The cost of running Speakers’ Corner projects is generally modest, particularly when they are supported in kind or otherwise by local authorities or other organisations. But it may be necessary at some stage for a Speakers’ Corner Committee to seek funding, perhaps to cover the cost of a part-time administrator, the expenses of volunteers or the costs of room hire or refreshments at events. Very occasionally, a Committee may also decide to seek more significant funding, for example to mark the creation of a Speakers’ Corner as a public space.
The following guidance provides advice on how to raise the funds you might need. It has been prepared by Charity Fundraising Ltd, the leading fundraising consultancy which works with a range of charities and voluntary organisations.
Starting fundraising from scratch can be a daunting prospect if you have little experience of the field. But there are a number of organisations which provide useful departure points and helpful signposts to potential sources.
National Association for Voluntary and Community Action
National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) is the national voice of local third sector infrastructure in England. On their website you can search their directory of members to find your local Voluntary Sector Support Agency which will be able to offer advice on potential funding in your area, including funds administered by the local authority.
To find your local Agency visit http://webdb.navca.org.uk/home.aspx
Directory of Social Change
The Directory of Social Change offers a range of information, resources and training to the voluntary and community sector including the Trustfunding directory service (please see below).
Sources of Charitable Funds
While there are certainly more potential sources of funding available to registered charities, registration may not be appropriate for Speakers’ Corner Committees as the reporting and accounting requirements can be costly and time-consuming and there is a £5,000 minimum income threshold before groups can apply for it. However, the Charity Commission does provide advice and a model constitution for small groups seeking funding from charitable sources below the threshold. To benefit, a Speakers’ Corner Committee could establish an unregistered charitable body but would have to take care that its combined income from that and other sources did not exceed £5,000. The Charity Commission’s website sets out further information on charity regulation which a Speakers’ Corner Committee should consider if contemplating these options.
But some grant-makers will support not-for-profit groups such as Speakers’ Corner Committees. They include
- Awards for All – a National Lottery grant scheme which funds small, local community-based projects in the UK
- Community Foundations – charitable trusts which promote and support local voluntary and community activity through grants to local groups and organisations. Visit www.communityfoundations.org.uk to find your local community foundation.
There are a number of online directories which can help you identify potential sources of funding according to specific criteria including activity and/or location:
- The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) provides a free directory at http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/default.aspx
- Most other directories, including Trustfunding and Grantsonline, are only accessible via a subscription service – though some allow you to trial their service for free.
Institute of Fundraising
The IOF is the professional membership body for fundraising and fundraisers. Its website provides a large amount of information, including codes of Fundraising Practice, guidance on the law and best practice in all types of fundraising activity (including organising events).
Local companies may be willing to help fund your project. Companies like to support the voluntary sector for a variety of reasons: to increase consumer awareness and increase sales; to improve their public image and create goodwill in the community; to enhance relationships with employees / suppliers / government / peers; to attract and retain staff; to gain access to people they would not otherwise reach.
Corporate sponsorship differs from charitable giving in that agreed benefits to the sponsor are normally negotiated in return for their support. These benefits can range from marketing opportunities such as prominent displays of company logos on materials and/or at events, press coverage or opportunities to attend networking opportunities. As essentially a business deal, companies want to see a return on their investment and, of course, you need to be comfortable with that.
You may be able to identify suitable companies to approach via your local chamber of commerce which can be found at http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/find-your-local-chambers.
Events can be a great way to raise modest sums for local causes. These may be one-off or part of a regular programme. The range of opportunities for fundraising events is as wide as your imagination! You could organise a Christmas ball, a Summer BBQ, a coffee morning, a sponsored bike ride or anything else you can think of. The main thing to remember is that to encourage as many people to get involved as possible the event should be sociable and fun. You will also need to promote it extensively with posters, emails to friends and colleagues and, if you can, get interest from local media. But often the effort is more than repaid not just by the funds you raise but also by the new contacts you make and the awareness you create about your activities.