Guest blogger Pete Johnstone talks about how the way we fund our environment is changing.
Fundraising and writing grant bids can be a daunting prospect at the best of times. Depending on the scale of the grant it can be a time consuming one as well. Grant funders will want to hear about your vision for the project, what plans you have in place and how your application will meet their aims and objectives. Coupled with this you need to spell out how the grant will be spent and what the end result will be. The list can go on and on and if you manage to complete the paperwork and send it off to the grant funder your application will be assessed by an assessor and maybe even go to a Grants Panel for a decision.
If you are lucky you will eventually get a decision and be delighted or disappointed depending on the outcome. I say lucky as some grant funders will only tell you if you have been successful, having said at the time of submitting the application that if you have not heard within a certain time period you must assume you have been unsuccessful!
However, having managed multi-million grant schemes I can see that these processes are pretty much essential in order to account for the money going out and to ensure that the grants are being used to best effect. However, it doesn’t make it any easier for the grant applicant as what they want to do is to get their project up and running and the grant application is just a means to an end.
So how can you make the fundraising process simpler and more transparent? Well I reckon crowdfunding is one answer to that question. It is still important to have a clear vision, communicate well and have clear outcomes and associated costs for the project you want to raise money for, but the difference is that you can ask for funds directly from your supporters, be they your local community, nearby businesses or from people further afield who want to support your work. In addition the feedback you get from potential backers is far more instantaneous and probably more rewarding as a result.
Spacehive have a strong focus on supporting fundraising for public space projects. My interest is in exploring and growing the environmental side of Spacehive and encouraging the environmental sector to get their own branded pages and to test the potential of crowd funding for themselves. I can see crowd funding working well for tree and hedge planting type projects, green space creation and improvements, walking trails, school nature gardens and even nature conservation research projects, particularly where the public have the opportunity to interact and see the results of their support in a relatively short space of time.
Signing up to Spacehive will not replace other more traditional forms of fundraising such as from foundations and local authorities but I firmly believe it will add an exciting new dimension to raising funds for much needed environmental work and one that will help you generate support for your cause.
Pete is passionate about the environment and in enhancing people’s connection to it in their everyday lives. His career spans 30 years from nature reserve work on a remote Scottish island, to managing urban green space in London to running numerous England wide grant programmes with Natural England, with the aim of getting more people to access and enjoy nature. Now based in Cambridge Pete runs his own environmental business with a focus on project development, fundraising and photography. Check out his website here www.pjelements.co.uk.