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15 April 2014 minutes (fundraising)

Fundraising Group minutes

15 April via Skype
Present: Peter, Patrick, Cath, Sophie (with notes via email from Susan)


Everyone was happy with the draft budget. In the early days we talked about the fact that we may need to spend up to 30% of funds on admin costs (including covering travel etc) but it’s now looking like a lot less than that. However, we agreed we shouldn’t focus too much on that as it may then affect decisions around inclusivity.

Each budget item should be seen as an opportunity to raise funds. For example, the Forum for Radical Sharing could be eligible for funding, perhaps even seen as a ‘charitable’ educational project. Raising smaller sums, such as £2,000 to cover the forums, could be quicker and easier than larger sums, although you’d need to write more applications. When fundraising in this way, we should always add in a % to cover associated admin costs.

A suggestion has been made that we have a pot of money to use as sessional fees for members where they are taking on a substantial project and for which the member may need to be paid. We thought this could be around £5,000 and could add a line to each budget item to cover those costs. One of the areas that might need more paid capacity is where Advisory Group members give support to applicants in the early stages. However, we agreed it was not our decision to make. We’d probably need an agreed policy under what circumstances we would pay someone and how we’d decide which member would do it.

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

We had a great meeting with Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and were surprised that they were open to providing ‘hands off’ funding to us. We now need to work out what we would like to ask them for. It seems they are most interested in getting funds to the grassroots, so we should give them the option to put funds into our pot to distribute to groups. Outreach and publicity is also crucial for us to be able to reach potential applicants and to become financially sustainable (and not dependent on grant funding). Our core costs, including publicity and outreach, are less than £30,000 a year, so that seems like something we could ask them – plus an amount into the pot. It is important that we do not loose control of the funds. For example, they cannot tell us to only use their funds for a particular community or type of group. We’d also like to ask that they offer long-term support, ideally 5 years. Whilst members have agreed that we can apply to foundations, to be transparent to the membership we should send a message out and give people the opportunity to raise any concerns or make suggestions. We will also talk to Rose (who was at the meeting) and the Facilitating Group.

Raising money from individuals

XminY Solidarity Fund (Netherlands) and Bewegungsstiftung (Germany) have good models for reaching individual donors. Both are entirely funded that way (XminY have 2,500 people giving an average of €10 per month, whereas Bewegungsstiftung ask people to give €5,000 to join and work with activists to distribute funds). We should also think about how we can reach people who invest with Charity Bank, Triodos and Shared Interest plus Guardian readers etc. The Communications Group need to work on getting more publicity through the likes of the Guardian, perhaps Comment is Free is a good place to start.

We need to make a concerted effort to increase the number of monthly pledgers since typically people don’t give unless they’re asked.  Currently we have 54 monthly donors. We would like to set an internal target of 100 by the end of the year and to start the appeal at the same time as we open for applications (June) since this is when we have most traffic to our website. When we get closer to the end of the year (September?) we can see where we’re at and then set a public target for the end of the year. When we launch the appeal we can say that we have funds for Round 4 but are now raising funds for Round 5.  We need to let the Communications Group know about this so they can try to get publicity for it.

We have some individuals to approach for larger amounts too, but will wait until we know what’s happening with Esmee Fairbairn.

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