About six months ago I attended the launch of Open Future_ North’s latest intake “Fair by Design”, this intake was for businesses that address the poverty premium, a situation where people on lower incomes tend to end up paying more for goods and services. This was far more inline with what we had been doing and Hack Oldham and while Open Future_ North’s funding is very different it got me thinking about my own experience in applying for funding for Hack Oldham.
By comparison I’m fairly new to the whole grant funding thing but in my limited experience applying for funding isnt easy, what’s even more frustrating is applying for small pots of funding isnt particularly any easier than applying for big pots, which meant it can cost you more in time and effort to apply, win and report on a grant, than you actually get in cash.
I began to wondered if it had to be like that, and following the event I had a chat with @WelshLizzie CEO of Action Together, and the inklings of a plan started. Liz put me in touch with a group of local people who might be interesting in doing something different and we set to work.
This is where the hacker mindset kicks in…
Traditionally anything to do with funding is complicated, there’s forms, interviews, reporting to funders that has to be considered, then you have the issue of whether your project actually fits what the funder is looking for and if you meet all of their requirments. You might have to most worthwhile project in the world but you havent constituted your group in most cases you are out of luck.
My thinking was simple, let the community fund the projects that they like, no forms, no requirements just people putting money where they wanted it to go, in essence instant crowdfunding.
Bias to Action
We arranged a meeting about a week later with a group of people we thought could help make this happen, in the mean time we had done some research and found the Detroit Soup model. The lovelly people at Real Junk Food Oldham were part of our group and commited to provided catering for the event so we decided to make it a joint project between them and Hack Oldham, and Funded with Food was born. We set a date for the first event and announced it before we really had too much of a plan forcing ourselves to act, rather than just talk about what we’d like to do, and we set ourseves a list of actions that we needed to do before the first event.
One of these actions was to find a compere and first on the list was Andy Hall who thankfully said yes, and offered his time to support the steering group too.
Fail Forward and Learn
Our first event outwardly went without a hitch, inwardly it was chaos but the worth that could have happened was we spent an evening in a hackspace and chatted about how we’d put the worlds to right, so not that different to any other night.
We made notes throughout the evening about what went well, and what didn’t go so well and having raised and awarded Chatty Cafe Scheme £550 we decided that the basic model worked, we just needed to tidy things up a bit, which is exactly what we did for the second event.
The second funded with food was more polished, many more applicants, a better system for random selection, attendees were given piggy bank tokens to place in voting boxes and animated slides kept track of the progress through out the night. This time round awarding £617.06 to The Edge Youth Group we knew we had something that worked.
Having started small and decided to just have a go at doing something different on the basis that the risk was so minimal it was almost non-existent we had created something that was actually making a difference to people, and so the plan now is to be less small, dates have been set for the next 12 months and were now looking forward to bigger and brighter things.
So on that note, a huge thank you to everybody who has made this happen, and hopefully we’ll see more of you at the next event.
We’re looking for corporate sponsors to help make funded with food bigger and better, if you would like to get involved please get in touch.