So, you’ve recently started your own community project. That’s fantastic! You’ve got your team of enthusiastic volunteers and the resources you need to kick start your initiative, and you are now turning your attention to how to fund the project. The set up costs of your project will of course vary depending on what type of idea you are starting; a community garden or Community Fridge will have more associated costs than a local Poetry in the Park (which is essentially free!). Whenever it’s possible, ChangeX will endeavor to provide funding for your project, however, at present, we only have funding available in certain locations. So we’ve put together this guide to give you some tips and tricks for finding funding sources in your community. It’s very unusual for funding to become an insurmountable hurdle for a community project that has a committed team behind it – so take heart, you’ll find a way to realize your project!
Run a fundraiser
A fundraiser is a great opportunity to get your volunteers together for the first time to work together and raise funds for your project. It’s also a great way to engage with the community and spread awareness of your new idea. You can fundraise basically anywhere, such as on the streets (this may require a permit), in your office, or in your community center. Fundraising can be as straightforward as a bake sale or something a bit more exciting like a karaoke night! Here are some of our favorite ideas that anyone can start:
- Dress down day at your office
- Charity Hair Shave/Chop
- Car Washing
- Yard Sale
Given the circumstances of Covid-19 and its restrictions, make sure you follow all guidelines in your area and that your fundraiser is in line with community guidelines.
Oxfam Ireland has provided a shortlist of fundraising ideas to inspire you to fundraise in your community.
Start an online fundraiser and share with your network
To raise money for your cause online, there are a few platforms that you can use to start your fundraising. GoFundMe, IndieGoGo, and Fundly are platforms that support fundraising for any cause. GoFundMe and Fundly have some great tips on how to get started and share your story of why you started this fund in the first place.
Once you’ve launched your fund on their platforms, then let people know about it! Your network of friends and family on social media can be your biggest champions. Are you in any Facebook groups where you’re currently interacting with other members? Share it with them! Sometimes, the more people know about your cause and why you’re raising money, the more likely they are to donate to your fund.
Get a local business to sponsor your project
If you’re starting a local community initiative, local businesses are likely to be interested stakeholders. Local businesses want to see the communities they work in thrive and you might be able to get them on board to be a part of your project.
Here’s a suggestion of how you could go about it.
- Contact the business and organize a meeting with the manager or whoever is responsible for sponsoring projects
- Bring them through what the project is and the impact it will have on the community
- Explain the costs to set up the project and the funding you are asking for
- Communicate the benefits they will receive (as well as greater wellbeing in their community!) – for example, a mention or branding on a project sign, website, newsletter, or in press.
Get your company or employer to sponsor your project
Having a connection to a company will definitely help you get a foot in the door when looking for a business to sponsor. Your employer already knows and trusts you, and that’s half the work done.
Many organizations have implemented the Matched Giving initiative to help boost employee engagement. Essentially, whatever amount you fundraise as an employee, your employer will match this amount in sponsorship. It might be a good idea to investigate if your organization has a policy like this in place, as this could really help boost your funds!
You can also check out our own guide on how to get local businesses to sponsor you.
Depending on your area and country, there may be grants for projects and causes. A grant is “a financial donation given to a person, organization, project, or program.” Grants are mainly provided by governments or community foundations. In many countries, governments offer funding for community projects. For example in Ireland, these grants are often offered at a county council level. Alternatively, you can look for grants through foundations – organizations that provide funding to individuals and small businesses to serve the common good.
The best way to find these grants is through a quick google search such as “community project grant *your locality*”.
Another option you have is to structure your community project as an organization to improve your likelihood of receiving grants from both governments and foundations. In the US, it may be unlikely that the government lends a helping hand to individuals unless it’s a nonprofit organization because they have a 501(c)(3) status. Having a 501(c)(3) status usually means that the organization is a “tax-exempt, public charitable organization,” and to be officially granted that condition involves a lot of paperwork from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Although a full charity structure is likely unnecessary for your community project, it may help you in the future if looking for long-term funding and support.
Another option is partnering with a non-profit organization to gain fiscal sponsorship. Fiscal sponsorship is “the practice of non-profit organizations offering resources, like their legal and tax-exempt status to groups or individuals that projects align with the sponsoring organization’s mission”. Organizations that are likely to give grants or fiscal sponsorship are foundations and partnerships. For example, in Baltimore, MD, Fusion Partnerships provides traditional fiscal sponsorship management so that each program has the stability they need to be successful.
So, it might be a good idea to try to find a local non-profit that is working on the same social issue as they’ll be most likely to provide you support.
Check out the Fiscal Sponsors Member Directory for a full list of sponsors in the US. For non-profit organizations searching for funding, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and Ben and Jerry’s Foundation are good places to start.
At first, fundraising may seem challenging and unrewarding, but with the right people and attitude, it can be a fun and worthwhile way of ensuring sustainability and long term impact for your new community project. People are often reluctant to ask others for help, whether it’s for financial support or even advice, but there are plenty of people who are willing to help, especially those in your community. Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you to support your plans and projects so that they can grow to help many more in your community.
Do you know of any more ways to raise funds or find support for new community projects? Let us know at [email protected]
Stay safe, and stay connected!