Community functions are a great way to raise funds and support.
The funding dilemma
When starting up, or going through a growth phase, a men’s sheds often faces the “Catch 22” dilemma of needing to be professionally managed at a time when there is the greatest challenge to your time in finding the financial resources to pay the bills.
Some of the key issues
- Raising the capital to fund a men’s shed can be one of the most difficult and frustrating activities to be undertaken.
- Raising funds should be a continuous process in a men’s shed if it is expanding. You will need more money for programs, stock, debtors, and equipment.
- Those who maintain their men’s sheds in a ‘Partnership Ready’ position will find in much easier and quicker to raise the necessary funds.
- Funding can be provided in both cash and kind (expense relieving) to the men’s shed.
- Your men’s shed should be incorporated, funders like to know who they are funding.
The way you fund your men’s shed will be critical to its future and the rate at which you can add services to meet the needs of the members and the community. The ways to fund a men’s shed could include:
- Funds from the sale of products and services.
- Fundraising activities of the members.
- Members funds.
- Government grants.
- Leasing and renting.
- Private loans.
How much funding is required?
You need to make a realistic assessment of the financial needs of the men’s shed, including start-up costs and how long it will take before your men’s shed can become self-sustaining. This will form part of your business plan and is essential for funding applications.
Your assessment needs to demonstrate that you will be able to manage the funds, taking into account possible risks. Will the men’s shed satisfy the needs of the members and for how long? Do you have enough skills to run the men’s shed? Can you demonstrate that you have a clear direction and understanding of the issues involved?
“A men’s shed without proper funding is usually run by people with limited practical experience and who are not financially savvy”. Peter Sergeant
Applying for Funding
Learn as much as you can about your proposed men’s shed. Be realistic about the effort, time and money it will take when applying for funding. Use the services of a finance broker, accountant or legal advisor to assist you in putting proposals together.
You will need to prepare a comprehensive business plan and budget.
Funding the future
Everyone will chase the dream of starting and growing a men’s shed, but very few will achieve remarkable success. How can you turn a poor-mediocre men’s shed into a valuable and sustainable asset in the community?
One of the most important factors is having a good leadership team. If you relied on some of the popular notions you might think it takes only an individual to run successful men’s shed.
No single person can possibly keep all the essentials in motion without help. Successful men’s sheds, apart from those that are largely exclusive and receive special funding and support from government health services, have outward facing leaders. Leaders who are highly exploratory, particularly with relationships and marketing opportunities.
Leaders need to be good communicators. They need to have chemistry, the charisma that lets them bridge the gaps between members, partners, customers, industry leaders and importantly, funders. They must be accomplished at finding, qualifying, and shaping the deals and relationships that ultimately will shape the men’s shed’s positive financial position.
If you are considering starting a men’s shed that’s going to be part of the next great generation of men’s sheds, don’t let the naysayers discourage you. Do your homework and then let us get together and find a way to fund your ideas and build the necessary team.
A must is to be prepared to bring a quality business plan to the negotiating tables. These days you have more people and seasoned entrepreneurs who are taking a closer look at accessing the scarce resources for ideas. Even though you are a non-profit you should understand the competitive forces at play.
What professional services does your men’s shed require?
- Finance brokers.
- Real Estate brokers.
- Business brokers.
A broker is an independent agent used extensively in some industries. Their prime responsibility is to bring sellers and buyers together and thus a broker is a third-person facilitator between a buyer and a seller.
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The first thing funders usually looks for is a strong, mature management team followed by signs that the men’s shed has already gained traction in the community.
It is also considered that forging strong alliances and partnerships can help, as opposed to going out and starting from scratch to find funding. Doing anything in isolation can be difficult, including starting and running men’s sheds.
There are plenty of people who will provide you with some sort of process, but be wary of people with limited experience. Someone who has run a business is most likely to know what needs to be done and where the pitfalls are.