Can you run a community project without raising any money?

The CoderDojo Foundation empowers people all around the world to start their own local CoderDojo club for young people. Here Laura Ivers shares her experience with us on the best way to raise money for a local project like a CoderDojo.

Laura talking at Tedx Madera, Italy in May 2015.

Our ethos at CoderDojo is to be free, open and available to all, irrelevant of anyone’s economic circumstances. Parents should never feel that they must contribute financially as this will lead to feelings of exclusion for those who can’t afford it. That’s why, at CoderDojo, we encourage all our Champions to find indirect ways to get what they need to run their Dojos without relying on monetary donations. Dealing directly with money just complicates any project operation significantly and creates more work for the Champions in respect of having to set up a bank account and deal with accountancy tasks and legalities. The easiest way, and what we’ve found very successful, is to find a local corporate sponsor who can help you through pro bono support e.g. by covering the cost of equipment, Dojo rewards or venue costs.

This model could be used for any local initiative that is about bringing people together to achieve a common goal. For Dojos, which are youth and technology focused, there are many organisations willing to support in communities around the world. It could be a local bank, shop, supermarket or business in the area.

For a GIY group for example that might be a local garden centre or a local café that wants to support home growing.

Sponsors can make all kinds of contributions such as the donation of products or services or even the space where you host your regular meetings. To find this kind of support just start by asking around when you meet your friends or colleagues. Give everyone a chance to come up with ideas and you’ll be surprised how much help is at hand. It might just be that someone gives a laptop that isn’t in use anymore.

Of course, in the case of CoderDojo you should always bear in mind to work with appropriate sponsors for a youth based organisation and to be responsible with your sponsor choices. At CoderDojo we also provide templates for all our Dojos that makes it easy to apply for the sponsorship. The only work that’s left is finding the right companies or local businesses and then making the most of your negotiation skills!

It’s great to see more and more people getting creative around collecting the resources they need to run their Dojos. In Wilmslow, Cheshire the Champion created an amazon wish list to give potential sponsors, corporate or private, an easy way to see how they can contribute.

In fact, under 50% of Dojos actually need any extra support. Most Dojos find it possible to run with no costs associated by finding a safe and secure free venue, mentors volunteering their time and young people bringing along their own, or borrowed, laptops. It is very possible to run with no funding or support and this has been proven by Dojos all around the world and closer to home in Ireland, countless times.

Good luck with your fundraising endeavours!

What kind of sponsorship are you getting for your local project and how do you get creative around getting funding to realize your ideas in your community? Please share your experiences in the comments below. 

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