We have explored the four main funding streams for charities and community groups in a previous article: donations, grants, contracts and selling goods and services. There are other ways for groups to generate an income. Let’s take a deep dive into three additional pillars.
Additional pillar one – Shares
If the legal model of your community organisation allows it then you could set up a community share offer.
Community shares are a form of share capital that can only be issued by co-operative societies, community benefit societies and charitable community benefit societies.
For the full definition of ‘Community shares’, check out the Community Shares website.
Community shares can be a great option for developing local shops and pubs, financing renewable energy schemes, transforming community facilities, supporting local food growing projects, funding new football clubs, restoring heritage buildings, and more.
By investing in community shares, communities enter a virtuous circle whereby it’s in their interest as members and investors to be active as customers, supporters and volunteers too. And the same applies to other stakeholders including employees and suppliers.
You can find plenty of advice and support on community shares from The Hive (who can offer access to a business advisor ) or The Plunkett Foundation (who are particularly supportive of community pub/shop projects in rural locations).
Additional pillar two – Loans
Given a solid business plan including income projections, you may be able to access a loan which you’ll be able to spend as you wish and pay back according to the agreed terms.
Loans are particularly useful for funding innovation costs or buying an asset for the community – the kinds of projects that will increase the value of your organisation to ensure you can repay the loan with interest.
Look to social lenders including Co-operative & Community Finance, Good Finance (which has a great diagnostics tool too), Big Society Capital, Charity Bank and Triodos for more information on loans and opportunities to apply for them.
Additional pillar three – Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a great way to raise awareness of your community project while you’re raising money. But the crowdfunding space is crowded so you need to make sure your project stands out. You’ll need a compelling story and plenty of followers ready to amplify your story and get the word out.
Communications and Marketing
This isn’t a key funding pillar. But Comms and Marketing are essential to achieving a consistent funding stream. Whether you’re trying to win a contract or sell goods and services, you’ll need to get the word out to gain support.
Top tips on digital Comms and Marketing:
- Embrace digital! It’s not going to go away. If you don’t have the skills then advertise for voluntary support.
- Think about setting up a website. Don’t forget the power of email and be sure to stay active on social media. Facebook was used by most charities as a central comms channel through the Covid crisis. Clever use of images and text can mobilise volunteers, generate donations and increase support.
- For support check out Digital Candle – a free service offering an hour’s free support on all aspects of digital from digital strategy to social media marketing.
For a list of useful links to recommended sites from Corinna, go here.
Now that you know all about the the different ways to access funding, it’s time to get to work!
Interested in grant funding? Sign up to ActionFunder for free and you’ll receive notifications when funds launch in your area!