Re-Imagining Finance for Community Projects & Businesses

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Need funding to start your community business but not sure where to start? Our event Re-Imagining Finance for Community Businesses and Projects, held last week at the Impact HUB Brixton, generated quite a few ideas that are worth exploring.

The event was part of our How to successfully lead a community project course, which includes a rich variety of online and offline leadership training. Our amazing guest speakers for this event were: Deborah Smart from Social Investment Business, Sarah Henderson from Echo, Jes Bailey from Crowdfund 360, Georgina Wilson from BUD and Reetu Sood. With great opportunities for networking, nibbles and even balloons we had a great evening, reflected in the comments we received, such as “really useful info, really inspired and great vibe, I feel like I can keep going.”

There were plenty of practical tips and ideas for anybody who’s starting up a community project or business and needs to get over the initial hump of lack of resources. Here are a few of them:

  1. If you’re considering applying for grant funding and you have any doubts or questions about eligibility, pick up the phone. Funders love talking to prospective grant applicants and the big grant-makers always have a contact number on their website.
  2. Crowdfunding campaigns are a great route to funding as long as they are designed properly. A campaign should last 30-35 days maximum, and before you start you should have an engaged social media community and mailing list – you need a high proportion of recipients who actually open your newsletter email as well as a good number on the list. Also, don’t forget to give examples of your track record in the communications – successes you’ve had on previous programmes or pilots. If you haven’t done a pilot? Do one!
  3. You might think you need funding to get that shiny website designed, but you could also do it by trading your time and skills. Echo is a community where people trade using time instead of money with a handy exchange rate of 1 hour = 1 Echo. A quick brainstorm around the table showed us that we all do have useful skills to offer, even if you may struggle at first to think what they are.

The workshop was a great opportunity to begin these conversations, and the participants on the How to successfully lead a community project course will be able to tap into vital peer-to-peer support. Click here to find out more about the course.

Innovations in Leadership


I have designed a really exciting new course on How to Successfully Lead a Community Project. I am so happy to present it to you because I believe that everyone who wants to start a community project should be able to. I know that you all have brilliant ideas, it’s now just a matter of getting those ideas out there. I think one of the most important parts to being an effective leader is learning how to collaborate. For me, leading a community project doesn’t mean bossing people around. It doesn’t mean telling your team what to do. It means learning how to harness one another’s skills. It’s about identifying what’s special about each one of us and using those unique abilities to get our project off the ground.


And here’s what’s so revolutionary about my course: I believe so strongly in the power of skill sharing, and I want so badly for anyone who wants access to this course to have it, that I’m making skills sharing an option for payment. I know finances can sometimes be a barrier, but I don’t want it to be. I believe we all have something to offer, and tapping those skills is my innovative approach to leadership. Let’s start changing the world together!


If you’re interested in the course, I would love to hear a little bit about you and what it is you’re working on! If you could take the time to fill out this form with a few of your details I would really appreciate it.


The Fundamentals of True Leadership


We all have different approaches to leadership. But for me, and what I want to emphasize in my own life, is that we need to lead through love and fulfillment. We want to reach out and we want to lead others, but often I have seen people confuse leadership with projecting their ideas onto their group. For me, leadership is about questioning what I need to do to allow my group to feel satisfied and fulfilled. The answer to that question, most commonly, is love.


I think that being a leader means showing my team love and respect. I think that’s truly what people want, and what will allow others to respond in the same way. It means allowing people to feel included, to feel valued, and to to help them recognise that their role truly is important.


For my organisation BUD (Businesses Under Development), I like to take a nonconventional approach to teaching leadership. For me, this means teaching people how to empower others and helping them to feel empowered. We want to encourage positive change in our communities and in the world, but that starts within our own groups. This is one reason I love Pebble Magazine. They take the approach that each pebble makes a ripple, and that’s such a powerful belief. If we encourage positivity in one another, that attitude translates to the way our organisations work and the ways in which our communities grow.


When I offer a leadership course, I don’t teach others how to lead through power. I teach people how to lead through love. For me, this means showing others how to understand what your team is feeling, how to respect them, how to make them feel valued and cared for. We don’t try and force productivity upon people, we teach people how to encourage productivity it to blossom. If this interests you, I am offering a workshop on how to successfully lead a community project on September 19th and I would love to see you there.


And I think, even beyond our own organisations and community groups, that love and respect is what’s missing in society. As changemakers, community leaders, business owners, or organisational leaders, we can begin changing society by changing the ways we treat others around us. To me, that’s true leadership.


We know that so many of you want to lead change, but don’t have the tools. I like nothing more than watching people transform themselves, their organisations, and the world. That’s what I want to dedicate my life to! And that’s why I want to give you a guide I put together on how to successfully build a community organisation. You can download that here, and if you know someone else in need of a tool kit such as this, please do pass it along. We want to see love spread as far and wide as possible, and this is a good place to start. Join me?

If you’re interested in more, go to our website and sign up for our newsletter! 

The Power of Collaboration for Leaders: Unlocking Networks


The Power of Collaboration for Leaders:


As leaders, we are so often taught that leadership looks like power. We’re taught that we have to claw and fight our way to the top of the heap and then command everybody once we get there. But, from my experience working with leaders and community groups to lead positive change, I’ve learned that it’s just so much more special and so much more effective to collaborate with our peers. As individuals, we can’t possibly know everything. But as leaders, it’s tempting to pretend that we do.


Here’s the thing though: the moment we start admitting that there may be people on our teams and in our networks that have a skill we don’t is the moment we start being more effective agents of change. Groups tend to be far more successful when they admit that there may be someone on the team who does something better, just like there are things I do better. It’s all about recognizing the unique skills in our team members and acting on them.


Recently, I was at an event with Unlocking Networks  in which we looked at why some groups making social change are struggling. One of the key elements of this conversation was that to be successful change agents, to be a strong organisation, we should tap into the power that exists in simply coming together and growing together.


This is something I am personally trying to emphasize in the project I’m leading called “Lead Positive Change.” We have had several events called “how changemakers can lead positive change,” and what was key there is that we created the space to learn and grow from one another. This made me wonder when we thought it was okay to try and create alone, to really try and strive without collaboration. So with my business, BUD (Businesses Under Development), I’m really trying to change this way of thinking, trying to take a unique approach by supporting leaders of positive change through teaching a participation based approach. We want to create so much collaboration and partnership that people truly feel valued, and to encourage the idea that each individual can truly contribute something incredibly important. On a personal level, I want to work with other people and I want to share my skills with them and learn the skills that they have. We want groups not only to learn how to collaborate, but to gravitate towards collaboration. We want people to start seeing it as both appealing and natural.


I’m working on a series of workshops about how to successfully lead a community project (you can register for one here), and one of the things that worried me the most about it was that I knew not everybody could afford to take the course. Of course, it is a businesses so I can’t just offer it for free because that would make it unsustainable. I did decide though that I could have people offer their skills, their knowledge, their networks, so that they could learn and grow from me and I could learn and grow for them. I’m also offering a free course on how to Successfully Launch Your Community Project. That’s how valuable I think peer-to-peer collaboration truly is. 


What I have learned, and what I want others to learn, is the importance of understanding and respecting one another. I want individuals to gain experience outside of themselves. And I want people to see how when you put two people next to each other, you can create something that has never before existed. Collaboration is a fusion of ideas and skills and networks that turn into something new and beautiful. To me, it is one of the coolest concepts in the world and I want others to see it as well.

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