I attended an event advertised on Facebook and organised by Bluefire Dublin called ‘Igniting Change: Funding & Financial Sustainability’ on Thursday 29th June 2017. The event was aimed at voluntary and community organisation, social-enterprises, individual artists or community-based project managers, and small-medium NGO’s.
Bluefire organises ‘igniting change series’ every last Thursday of each month: http://www.bluefiredublin.ie/igniting-change.html
The guest speakers at the event were a mix of social entrepreneurs and funding bodies:
• Ian Oliver (far right on the picture) from Centre for Creative Practices
• Eoghan Ryan (far left on the picture) from Social Innovation Fund Ireland
• Hazel Hill (right next to Eoghan) from The Community Foundation for Ireland
• Naomi Murphy (left next to Ian) from Connect the Dots
The purpose was for attendees to be aware of what is required to start up a successful business and how to get grants from organisations supporting social entrepreneurs. It started with a talk from each speaker and was followed by a workshop and finally by a networking session.
Eoghan from Social Innovation Fund Ireland talked first:
He explained that before launching Social Innovation Fund, he founded his own not-for-profit, Reimagine Cork to tackle issues around homelessness in Cork: http://www.reimaginecork.com/ Understanding the needs for Not-for-Profits, he felt he could help entrepreneurs best and joined Social Innovation Fund.
The company’s mission is to provide both funding and non-financial support to social entrepreneurs. It has also partnered with the government and every given Euro by SIFI is matched by the government. Eoghan’s first advice is to think about ‘why’ you want to start up a company and ask yourself why his company would fund you. He also strongly recommends having a clear plan in place, a good value proposition, showing confidence and making good use of your time. When filling forms to apply for funding, keep it simple and answer the asked questions.
Hazel Hill, Marketing Executive and Programme Leader at The Community Foundation for Ireland talked about her organisation:
She explained that her organisation offers both open grants and private grants. The latter ones are given on a project basis with an end date. You will be asked about what will happen at the end of the project to gauge how sustainable your business model is. The organisation offers funds for mergers, i.e shared between teams to highlight the importance of collaboration and partnership between organisations.
Her first advice was to not manipulate your core mission value (reason for existing) to get funding, but instead only apply to relevant grants that fit your organisation. She also emphasised to have a clear mission statement, to document your research by backing up your project with analytical reports, to listen to your community/audiences’ needs, take any constructive feedback on board and understand the impact your company will have.
Naomi from Connecting the Dots, is working together with Merissa from the USA for a start-up focusing on the community engagement in Dublin: http://www.connectthedots.ie/our-work/
Their company started off when there were many unoccupied vacancies in Dublin during the crisis by putting on events with artists, engineers, researchers. Over the time, they worked on a process for events’ organisation, i.e on improving the engagement with attendees, corporate donors. Naomi’s advice is to volunteer for different organisations and network that way before you start up. She has been helping a lot at ‘Happenings’ organisation. She also added that it is important to speed up processes with a technology enabler. This year they are working a software service (SAAS) application, i.e transferring processes online for co-working events, in order to gain time and increase income streams and viability.
Ian works together with his wife Monica for Center for Creative Practices, company helping creative artists to come up with a more sustainable model: http://cfcp.ie
His first advice was to start with a small plan before building a full-scale model and revisit this plan when necessary. Instead of going through a lengthy business plan, they worked on a one-paged business model detailing their business model and value proposition, i.e the company’s purpose, what problem it is trying to resolve and the solution offered. His first business model focused on having a cash projection, i.e ticket prices’ sales and getting people to utilise the space to generate further money. He said that he felt it is best not to be over-reliant on grants for the day-to-day running of the business.
To finish off the talks, participants needing help on setting up their organisations were advised to get in touch with the following bodies: