Communities across Europe taking ownership of local services and initiatives.
A project of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
In a time of shrinking budgets and uncertainty in local services, the successful case studies have had to remain agile in their approach for funding. Strong community networks should help in securing support and funding from different sources, be it time through volunteering, local philanthropy or partnerships. The Community Foundations approach is a good example of a flexible approach to local financing. The Foundation brings together disparate funding sources within a flexible organisation that is focussed on community engagement and can ensure that the funds are distributed in a way that reflects the expectations of the community. As the organisation steps up to the challenge of increasing the size of its endowment, it is utilising the community support that has been generated by creating a new fundraising instrument - “Friends of BSW”. This encourages the uptake of membership from individuals within the community, where a small membership fee can be engaged to the Foundation work.
In contrast to the relatively secure financial position of the community foundation, Senior Partner in Schools (SiS) the stable funding, which goes beyond short-term project funding and could put the work of the association on a solid base, is still missing. Temporary funding has come from companies, a lottery fund, membership fees and The Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Partnerships with statutory services are seen as one possibility to ensure sustainability of the project, a cooperation agreement was concluded with the Berlin State Senate Department for education. They are also exploring how to get the most out of charitable donations, the form non-profit association was chosen not least because of the possibility of collecting donations and receiving tax exemption status.
The three UK case studies have had access to a range of sources of financial and non-financial support. Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership is funded by several of its partner organisations, including the rail operator who contributes to their marketing and communication budget. Some partners are not able to contribute financially but provide in-kind support instead. Originally both Organiclea and Carbon Co-op were operated at a very small scale and were self-funded. They then received grant funding for specific projects and grew from there. Funders have included the Big Lottery Fund (that fund the Local Food programme), Nesta (that co-fund the North-West Innovation Fund with Manchester City Council), Network for Social Change and local authorities.
Some of the case studies take an enterprise approach, and hope to be self-sustaining through generating revenue through the initiative. The E-Commerce project, for example, generates income through internet businesses and training programmes.