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Choose an easy to fund project first and a passion project later.

We are motivated by our passions but we need to be practical first. 

When starting a CIC the first project should be one that's easy to fund. I tell CIC founders all the time you have to pivot your idea to be fundable. That may mean stretching away from your main idea. 

Just practical common sense because we need to get money before we can establish ourselves and grow our CIC's. 

If you want to quit the day job, or pay the rent or get money behind you to pay debts or move you need a money making strategy. 

My advice is start with a project that's easy to deliver and easy to fund. 

So let's look at at what that could look like; 

-Tip one. Check what funders are prioritising and trends. For example this year was Windrush 75 which released loads on grants funds to commemorate. Look ahead at what is coming up or tie a project in with a yearly awareness day or month like black history month. Try to be unique as some of these topics are now over saturated and highly competitive.

-Tip two. Low risk small community focused project. I see that it's common for funders to grant for big events, festivals, concerts. These are these as high risk. Instead the fund workshops before the big event. Running a series of workshops teaching skills to disadvantaged people ending in an exhibition or showcase performance or installation is one of the easiest project formats to get funded. You could be smart and put all the workshops over a weekend and just not call us a festival but essentially it is!

-Tip three. Similar to the above. Grant funders like to fund the process, not the end product. Don't ever ask funders for find a published book or a film. Instead ask them to fund a series of writing workshops, a research project or drama or media skills workshops. These workshops can lead to you having an end result of a book or film and you are free to then go self publish that. You can even make money from the end product; you just never talk about this part of your plan in the grant application. 

-Tip four. Best use of public money. You got to get them to fund something that they will consider good value. They don't want to spend on high cost venues, equipment, admin, overheads, assets. They want to fund the grass roots project. Target your project to this high impact grassroots work delivery. Mix in volunteer costs so it shows a lot of the project uses volunteers. Mix in a few overhead costs but not many, and show you have this covered by other income. 

-Tip five. Apply for as many grants as you can and make them all pitot a slightly different part of your overall project plan. For example, apply for the arts council for youth art workshops, then apply to the Community fund to cover the young people mentoring for 18-25 year olds mentoring. Then apply for children in need for mentoring the under 18 year olds. Then apply for the heritage fund to research and produce an exhibition or book on music culture heritage or heritage of the community you are working with. That's about £85k in funding and all the projects slot together well and have some crossovers making them easier to manage. 

Now, say after all that you have an idea you're really passionate about but it is hard to fund. You may not mind by this point working on it as a volunteer project. You've generated enough money to buy yourself a few months off. You've generated money to cover materials and equipment you have left over from these projects. Maybe you can piggy back off the funded projects venue hire and get in a few other workshops. Utilise every opportunity. 

A CIC is for community benefit but you shouldn't be confined to do what grants funders priorities. You are free to design your own CIC and as an individual social entrepreneur you should design your own career and follow your passion project. 

As you grow your own independent income you will be able to do more of what you want and not be beholden to grant funders. 

Think about projects you could do over the next three years. Choose some grant funded project and a couple of your own self funded projects. 

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