I really didn’t want to be doing this. It’s hard work. It’s stressful. It’s tiring. It can be demoralising. It can be disappointing. It can lead to feelings of rejection. But, here I am, putting myself through it again.
And the “it”? Another Crowdfunder campaign.
So why am I doing it again? Because it feels like my only option. Which is also worrying.
When we moved to this new area, I read a leaflet that had come through the door (I like learning about things going on in the local community, whichever community I am in) and saw that there was still time to apply for local council community funding (how many times can you fit the word “community” into a sentence? ;-) ).
I did a detailed explanation of what I wanted the money for: £2500 was to raise awareness of my Community Interest Company, VieNess Discover You Love You CIC, in this new area, through marketing, PR, and print; £2500 was to fund ten days in schools in this new area, free of charge to the schools, running my self-esteem and confidence workshops. All of this would lead to more people knowing about the CIC, which would lead to more paid bookings, and more free workshops.
And they said yes!!! Sort of.
They said “yes” to half of it (surprisingly, the marketing side; I thought the free days would be preferred) and that I have to match fund the other £2500 to receive anything.
I started contacting local businesses, applying for community funds; my other plans were pushed aside as this was the priority. Many had already spent their community funds; others were only funding food banks (very much needed!); others were only funding specific areas, such as sport, engineering, the environment. I was getting nowhere.
One day, I got home from a meeting and, very unusually for me, I had a nap (I’m generally not a napper; are you? I tend to find that any minute napped during the day is doubled in minutes lost at night). I woke up and decided that I had to try another Crowdfunder campaign.
I hoped that, as June is the CIC’s birthday month, people might be more willing to support. And, as the CIC turns 3 on June 26th 2022, I decided to try to fundraise £3333. A bit more than I needed to match fund but a much needed buffer for the business.
I broke down how much it would cost to reach a child/young person as part of a group, how much it would cost to reach four children, ten, a class, a school, and put them as rewards, hoping people would think they would love to cover the costs of reaching x amount of young people.
And I really hoped that all the people that say how much my work is needed, that tell me they wish their children had someone like me in their school, that they wish they had had someone like me when they were at school, would contribute, knowing how important it is. I hoped all the people that say how inspirational, and lovely, and change-making, and kind, I am, would think, “I would love to support Vie in what she does” would donate, too.
I’m ever-hopeful, me.
Many social enterprises are struggling. All of us do good work, needed work, yet funding is, post-lockdowns, even harder than it was before.
When I set up VieNess Discover You Love You CIC in June 2019, I planned to have at least two fundraising events a year; one on International Women’s Day in March and one on the business birthday in June; then maybe little ones here and there. I wanted to provide value for the fundraising; I wanted people to enjoy whatever event I had sold tickets for and not feel I was begging for money.
After founding in June, I had three clothes sales, a dance night, and a big event in March 2020; the clothes sales and the dance night raised a few hundred in total; and the big event, well, that happened just before we went into lockdown so it wasn’t very big (It was fabulous, though!). All of these meant there was a little bit of money in the bank to tide the business over for a few months.
Through the pandemic, I struggled to raise much. I set up a Kofi account, where people could donate the cost of a cup of coffee to me; a generous estimation is ten cups of coffee were bought for me. I asked people to make regular donations, and I am very grateful to the five that do. But, sadly, it’s not enough.
I do wonder if people think I should do my work for free, as it’s community based, or because I am a nice person, but then I wonder what they expect me to live on? I still need to pay daily living costs yet I don’t earn a living wage.
Our attitude to social enterprises and charities can be skewed; the giant charities, paying their CEOs £150k plus a year, spending lots of money on staff, spending lots on marketing, spending lots on schmoozing, but often missing those of us in the community that would benefit, have little trouble attracting donations, whereas those of us on the ground floor, with direct links to the people that will benefit from our organisations, have to fight and struggle for so much. I love this TEDX talk with Dan Pallotta; he explains it beautifully; it’s based on American figures but it’s still relevant for the UK. https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong?fbclid=IwAR0HqkyKgbTeqh_2cCEwxstVeVt5rIiDat-1k9IXOIvojsJuksukNNgNklY&subtitle=en
I genuinely LOVE what I do; I am grateful I have the skills to do it (that I gained through hard work and determination); I am privileged to hear the stories that are shared with me in classes, and to see the changes my workshops make; but I can’t keep doing them for free. Some schools do pay for the workshops, which is fantastic! However, some can’t afford to; neither can the youth groups or the groups for vulnerable women that ask me to teach classes for them. I set up as a CIC so profits could go to the community, so I could reach those people that couldn’t afford it but, sadly, if I can’t get funding, I won’t be able to offer those free sessions; it will only be the children and young people in more affluent schools that can afford it; the children and young people who live in poorer areas will not benefit because of their circumstances.
It doesn’t seem fair. It isn’t fair.
But, with more support for local community organisations, MY community organisation, we can reach those children and young people that might get missed otherwise.
In one workshop with me, a child or young person will learn tools to carry them through life; tools that will boost their confidence; tools to help them see their worth; tools that will help them reach their potential. These might seem like lofty dreams but they’re true statements; one young person I worked with had grown up in a horrible situation, where they were told how stupid and worthless they were; their dyslexia and ADHD diagnosis had come late, and they had slipped through the net of extra help because they had had to move frequently because of the dangerous situation at home; I said to them that I could help them see how wonderful they are, and they didn’t believe me because they believed, they said, they were “a piece of crap”; by the end of the session, where I worked with several young people, that young person had seen how resourceful they were, how, even though they couldn’t read or write well, there was still so much they could do; how they had potential; how they were a worthy and wonderful human. This is not a rare incident; I work with young people like this far more than others would imagine; in every class and group I teach, there will be at least (at LEAST!!!) one person who will feel worthless, and my workshops help them see that they are very far from that.
Isn’t that worth £10, £20, £40 of your money?
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