Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ethical Funding for Community Groups

Cooperative Membership Fund

Having worked as a charity fundraiser, I know how difficult it can be for small community groups to find money to carry out their work. Many charitable trusts don't fund groups unless they are a registered charity (which is fair enough I suppose but can be problematic for small local groups run on a shoestring) and there is a surprising lack of trusts that will fund projects that just need a small amount of money - I guess a lot of funders like to be associated with big impressive projects!

So it is heartening all round to see The Cooperative Membership Fund. This grant scheme is funded by members of The Co-operative donating some of their share of profits, which is then given away in the form of small grants. This year The Co-operative Members have donated £1.2 million to small charities and other local community groups across the UK.

Another great thing about the Co-operative is that it is an ethical company - you can read about their commitment to tackle Climate Change here. Many community groups looking for charitable funds like to know that the funds they accept are not the proceeds of trade or activities that don't fit in with the groups ethics. (For example some projects don't accept money from the Big Lottery as they don't agree with gambling). A group can be comfortable applying for funds from the Co-operative knowing that the money doesn't come from the proceeds of, for example, selling weapons. Anyone who banks with the Co-operative (as i do), will be very pleased to see some of their profits used to support small community groups across the country.

The Co-operative Membership Fund supports a wide range of activities across the UK, including local food groups, such as Incredible Edible Rossendale, which encourages local people to grow their own food, increasing people's connection with the land and decreasing the carbon footprint of their food by reducing food miles.

You can view a selection of videos featuring supported projects on this page of the Cooperative Membership Fund website. The website also outlines how to apply for funds. In brief, to be successful a group must:

  • Carry out positive work in the community (it does not have to have charitable status to apply)

And the project must:

  • Address a community issue

  • Provide a long-term benefit to the community

  • Support co-operative values and principles

  • Ideally be innovative in its approach

Sponsored Post

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Lucy said...

I was really quite pleasantly surprised to see this was a sponsored post, it was interesting and informative and warmly written, in other words just like all your other posts! So often sponsored posts are dismal and feel false and spoil blogs for me, though I can't say I visit many who do them.

It's more and more important that we think about how we donate and how things are supported, small groups and charities often represent the best value for money, but don't necessarily have them means to promote themselves, and I often feel resentful that money I give goes back into publicity and marketing.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks Lucy! I only do sponsored posts where I can both agree with what I'm asked to write about and where I also know that I can write something reasonably good about it. I agree with you, so many sponsored posts seem contrived and half hearted and it can undermine the blog.

I agree also with your comment about how things are supported. I've worked for a number of medium sized charities where economies could have been made in the admin side of things and more money given to the cause itself. Having said that once a charity gets to a certain size then it can be really difficult to avoid a lot of admin. PR and marketing are fine if they are also genuinely raising public awareness of the issues and not just focussed on brand recognition and grabbign attention for the sake of it.

Naquillity said...

sounds like this is a good funding group. i think small businesses need a fighting chance like the BIG businesses. but, it doesn't always work that way.

we have one official who likes to do fundraisers here but ends up taking the majority of the money to pay all the ritz & glitz they hired for the project which leaves slim to nothing for the project to be funded. it's maddening.

hope all is well. have a great day.

liveotherwise said...

Have to say that I'm actually really enjoying the chance to write about some of these campaigns like the Sony/wwf one, and I wouldn't have found out about it without being offered the sponsored post opportunities. Great post.

Crafty Green Poet said...

liveotherwise - yes me too, good point!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I do agree with Lucy about what happens to the money we give. It is easy to buy charity cards at this time of the year but how much of the money goes to charity varies enormously. Agree also with you Juliet about savings on the admin - but that applies to every organisation doesn't it? When I think of the money wasted in education - but then it is easy to waste money when it is not our money we are wasting.
Food for thought here Juliet.

Crafty Green Poet said...

HI Weaver - if the cards are made and sold directly by a charity then all profits go to the charity (generally quite a high proportion of the total price). If you buy charity Christmas cards from a supermarket or high street shop then almost none of the money will go to charity.

Having worked in a lot of charities, I know there is a need for good, effective administration and management and that costs money. Efficiencies can be made of course....

RG said...

Thanks for sharing.

A local cooperative group (well, I think it is reasonably local although the web-site seemed to encompass quite a range of audiences) making small amounts of money available to small local groups where it could make a real difference in those group's agendas and success. The money might provide for printing and distributing a flyer that will attract an audience to a particular low-budget but needed educational event, for example.

It did take me quite a bit of digging to find out what kinds of projects fit their criteria for funding and so maybe a lot of groups apply but are way off the mark. But maybe I did not go at it right.