Six ways to fundraise for your community

Six ways to fundraise for your community

A man with a red nose bobble on his nose.
If you’re looking to fund a project or idea, why not consider fundraising ideas such local collections, events, community shares, crowdfunding and sponsorship before you start applying for grants?

There comes a time when you’ve begged, borrowed and called in every favour you can to get your project going and you just need some funding to keep up momentum, or take it on to the next stage.

It’s easy to think that all of your problems will be solved by a huge grant, but while grant funding can make a significant difference to both the schedule and the quality of your project, it has its own headaches, so look at all of the options before you start form-filling.

Once you’ve got real money, you’ll need to think about a bank account, a treasurer and possibly an accountant. You may need to form a community organisation in order to manage your project. If you’re looking for funding for a community enterprise like a pub or a shop, then you’ll need to be considering these things anyway.

Here are six different methods of community fundraising:

Local collections

The best time to collect for a project is at a related event, where people will make the connection without a lengthy explanation. If you can, make an announcement and explain what the money will be spent on at the beginning or end of your event. Mobilise your volunteers, get some fundraising buckets (labelled with the name of your cause) and get shaking.

Need to know: You'll need a licence from the local council to collect money and you have to be over 16 (over 18 in London).

Running events

Events themselves can also prove a good way of bringing in one-off funds. You could charge an entry fee, which would give you an idea of how many people you need to come to the event. It is hard to charge for events in public spaces, unless you’ve hired it as a venue, but running a food concession is another way of bringing in extra cash, but be sure to work out your margins first.

Sponsored/fundraised activities

Getting people to sponsor a trip to find the Yeti or cross the Gobi desert is one way of getting funding in, especially if you pay your own costs. But if you’re fundraising for your own community, it makes more sense to keep it local and simple — pub quizzes, raffles, treasure-hunts, virtual bike rides, car boot sales and fetes are all relatively easy ways to get some money in.

Need to know: Some fundraising sites like JustGiving.com charge a percentage of the funds raised. Virgin Money Giving is 100% not-for-profit and passes on Gift Aid in full to your charity. Also, GoRaise is a simple way to raise to collect donations from shopping online, you can get up to 15% from your purchases back as a donation for your charity.

Business sponsorship

If you’re putting something into your community, the chances are that local businesses stand to benefit — especially if it’s an event. So give them a chance to get involved and provide the means (leaflets, programmes, online shout-outs) to businesses that know what it means to be local.

Need to know: It’s best to be clear what you’re offering in terms of publicity — and put it in writing.

Crowdfunding

It’s a local project, so why not ask local people to support it? Crowdfunding usually has a specific ‘ask’ — funds for running costs are best sourced from elsewhere, but if there’s something specific you want to raise money for, such as a community garden, shop, or skate park then crowdfunding could be the way to go.

Be realistic — if you live in a small community then don’t expect thousands of pounds (unless you have incredibly generous neighbours) and make sure everyone can see the benefit; explain what the money will be used for.

Crowdfunder is a great site to get started. It enables you to raise funds; test, validate and market your idea; and build loyalty.

Community shares

Community shares are a way of allowing people to have a stake in your project. It works best for community assets (pubs, shops, other amenities or services such as energy) rather than events. Running a share offer might sound a bit daunting, but the Microgenius website enables communities to do just that. It’s not just the obvious assets; in Hastings they’re using a community share offer to restore the town’s pier.

Counting on crowdfunding or share offers for all of your funding may not be realistic, so if you’re looking at a fairly big project, grit your teeth and see if there are fund-matching opportunities out there.

Need to know: You will need to set up an industrial and provident society and abide by the rules for co-operative societies to run a share offer.

Community shares is a great resource for community enterprises considering or developing share offers.