Sometimes you just need that Do-Re-Mi
Even if you’re not planning to start a full-scale tax-exempt organization, there are lots of ways to raise funds for your project. The first thing you need is a can-do attitude. The next thing you need is a clear, well-designed plan of action. (Hint: use GOBRADIME!!)
Grassroots Fundraising, in a Nutshell:
There is a lot of crossover between categories, but we’ll define eight methods, based on the benefit to the person providing the funds.
- Grants are made by private or government corporations, to other corporations or associated community groups, based on a succinct and specific project proposal. If you want grants for permaculture-related activities, this website will get you started.
- Donations come in many forms, and are given without expectation of reward. You can ask for donations by passing a hat at events, sending email, tabling at events, or even going door to door.
- Crowdfunding is when people pre-purchase a product, service, or entrance to event. Here’s an article on Crowdfunding Your Permaculture Project
- Memberships. Recurring donation and/or purchases can be shaped in the form of memberships, which may or may not include publications and/or special access and discounts.
- Workshops. Teaching classes online or in person is a great way to raise money for yourself and your projects. Even better, get really good at inquiry-based permaculture pedagogy.
- Events. One of the best ways to raise quick money, as well as build community resilience, is by hosting an event.
- Products. Goods such as farm produce, handcrafts, value-added merchandise, and more can be sold to raise money for your project. Several of the videos below discuss different products folks commonly sell.
- Services. Consulting, creative services, design work, and so many more aspects of our permaculture skillset can be sold. In some ways, services are the most renewable fundraising technique.
Fundraising Do’s and Don’ts
Asking people for money, whether you offer a direct reward or not, can be tricky. Here’s a list of things to remember.
- Do create a clear, detailed proposal based on tangible, measurable goals and focused on the benefits to people other than yourself.
- Do expect rejection and meet bad vibes with positive ones.
- Do collect email address for every person you meet, and keep in touch on a regular basis.
- Do document everything meticulously. Photos, feedback forms, journaling, video. All of it…
And replicability is what makes your project have lasting value to other people, and ideally, to other species.
- Don’t launch a vague, “Save the World” campaign to raise money to buy yourself a farm. Those don’t work well. Instead, hone in on the tangible, measurable benefits of your project, to others.
- Don’t use fear, guilt, and/or shame as fundraising tactics. That’s scarcity mindset, and it’s a good idea to edit your final drafts to make sure you aren’t doing that. Instead use ethics, facts, and proactive solutions, and try to meet people where they are at.
- Don’t ever spam people (no more than 1 email per week is a general rule) or share your email list, ever. Protect your people’s data!
- Don’t miss chances to pay it forward, whenever you can. Document your work, document what you learn from it, and take in a healthy dose of feedback every day. Then, share as many resources as you have taken. Keep the flow moving.
You can “raise” money, or you can earn it.
The best way to ensure continued funding for your permaculture projects is by designing income-producing products and services into your whole system design. Here are some examples:
- How do you plan to raise money for your projects? Brainstorm some ideas based on what you learned in today’s class, and share them with your stakeholders. Can you include finances in your closed-loop system? Design it in!
Relevant Links and Resources
The Ultimate Guide to Non-Profit Fundraising includes a solid overview of the many ways to raise money, once you’re a bonafide non-profit organization. Some of these techniques also work well for grassroots groups who aren’t incorporated through the government, and it’s also possible to get a local nonprofit to “umbrella” your small group, for funding.
If you’re at all ashamed or nervous about the idea of asking for money for your work, (and even if you aren’t) read these: