Funding and Financial Sustainability for Non-Profit Organisations in Ireland

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.

financial sustainability

Bluefire organises ‘igniting change series’ every last Thursday of each month: http://bluefiredublin.ie/our-programmes/igniting-change/

financial sustainability
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 in 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
  • to know how to get grants from organisations supporting social entrepreneurs.

It started with a talk from each speaker, followed by a workshop and a networking session.

1. Eoghan from Social Innovation Fund Ireland:

Before launching Social Innovation Fund, he founded his own not-for-profit, Reimagine Cork to tackle issues around homelessness in Cork. 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 was to think about ‘why’ you want to start up a company and why his company would fund you. He also strongly recommends:

  • having a clear plan in place,
  • having a good value proposition,
  • showing confidence
  • having good management skills.

When filling forms to apply for funding, keep it simple and answer the asked questions.

2. Hazel Hill, Marketing Executive and Programme Leader at The Community Foundation for Ireland:

Her organisation offers both open grants and private grants. The latter ones are given on a project basis with an end date. The organisation offers funds for mergers (shared between teams) to highlight the importance of collaboration and partnership between organisations.

You will be asked about what will happen at the end of the project to gauge how sustainable your business model is.

Her first advice was to not manipulate your core mission value (reason for existing) to get funding. Instead, only apply to relevant grants that fit your organisation. She also advised to:

  • have a clear mission statement,
  • document your research by backing up your project with analytical reports,
  • listen to your community/audiences’ needs,
  • take any constructive feedback on board
  • understand the impact your company will have.

3. Naomi AND MERISSA from Connecting the Dots, a start-up focusing on the community engagement in Dublin: 

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 was to volunteer for different organisations and network that way before you start up. She has been helping a lot at ‘Happenings’ organisation.

It is also important to speed up processes with a technology enabler. They are currently working on a software service (SAAS) application (transferring processes online for co-working events), in order to gain time and increase income streams and viability.

4. Ian AND his wife Monica from Center for Creative Practices, a company helping creative artists to come up with a more sustainable model:

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-page business model. It detailed their business model and value proposition:

  • 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 feels it is best not to be over-reliant on grants for the day-to-day running of the business.

5. participants needing help on setting up their organisations, PLEASE get in touch with the following bodies:

 

 

 

Fundraising tips for dancers

Whether you need to need extra money for a worldwide competition outside your country, or for an intensive advanced training, or just for additional equipment at your dance school, sooner or later you will have to fundraise to pay for all these extra expenses.

dance fundraiser

If you don’t know where to get started, I’ll review few techniques you can follow to achieve your goals.

First of all, to create awareness about your event(s) and request funds, you will have to write a full event proposal (several pages) for your most important sponsors (eg Arts City Council) or an event sponsorship letter of proposal (condensed into a 2 paged document) for smaller sponsors (eg local shops, theatres..). Obviously, before getting into this, you will need to plan and market smaller local performances as well as know how much expenses you will incur.

Indeed, as you understood, a partnership with local authorities will be key to success. If for example, you plan to have several street performances to target your audience, you will need to request few weeks or months in advance the permission to do so at your local authority (eg City Council). For this purpose, you need to ring their offices and ask them what is the procedure (forms to fill) and what are the limitations (noise, timing, busking…). For each country, it will be a different process, so if you are unsure who to contact, I would advise you to do an online search with this type of keywords: “city council street performance permission (request)”. Here is an example of a simple street fundraiser with guys busking at the end of the show:

Secondly, if you plan to do flash mobs in shopping centers or airport, you will also need to request their authorisation. Here are few examples of successful flash mobs tactics:

http://www.hotcow.co.uk/Buzz-Blog/the-top-10-guerrilla-marketing-campaigns.htm

Thirdly, if you want to create buzz around your event(s), you need to market it both online (social media, video content, newsletters, fundraising profile on crowd-sourcing websites such as fundit, idonate) and offline (flyers, posters, radio interviews, press releases). Consequently, you may need to contact your local radio, press, student union… You will need to reach them out via email or phone before your event takes place. You will either email them the information about your event (anticipated attendance count as if the event already took place, date, time, place, type of event and purposes, a picture of the dancers) or schedule a meeting. Be aware that most public relations agencies will be more likely to issue a press release if pictures are clear and taken outdoors during the daytime.

Also, you may also organise events creating emphasis on audience interaction, like for example a dance game competition or simply an event not necessarily related to dance such as film night (dance film or else). You can find few more ideas at the below link. They aren’t necessarily dance related but you can apply the same principles to your dance fundraiser:

 

http://performingarts.about.com/od/Production_Management/tp/20-Essential-Fundraising-Ideas.htm

 

Finally, please remember to send a thank you note to all your sponsors via email or your crowd-sourcing profile, and to your audience on your social networks (eg Facebook fan page, twitter…). Of course, advise them about how much you raised thanks to their participation and how you invested their donations!

 

Best of luck! If you have any other ideas, please share them with us!