The following article was written for the Men’s Shed newsletter by Mike Jenn from the Camden Shed. I believe it is of interest to us at Veterans Shed and in the very least can get us all thinking along the lines of what things we need to be doing if we are going to raise funds.
One of the most important things for Sheds, right from day one, is ensuring they have enough money to continue. One side of that coin is keeping costs as low as necessary and the other is to get in more than your costs.
The most sustainable Sheds will have kept their costs low by having a voluntary leadership and by waiting until an affordable property was found whose costs did not cripple it from the outset. Some Sheds have even achieved peppercorn rents but these options are rare.
In our case we had not raised funds in advance so hired a room by the hour, quickly increasing
the hours afterwards. Six years later we are still there, fifteen hours pw.
Last year it cost us £6700 to operate including £3640 in hire charges and £340 of insurance
excluding costs relating to our training courses.
The surplus was mainly spent on materials and tools.The biggest contributor to that cost was the members, despite the Shed being free to use. We have no set fees for membership or daily use because one of the first persons to join us was penniless and desperate. Some weeks later he told one of us that he had been suicidal at that time. Since then all our member contributions have been donations.
The way this works is that new people are told there is no charge but that we ask everyone to contribute in cash if they can or else in some other way. When they ask ‘how much is a donation?’ they are told that we do have people who put in no cash but who have taken on roles to compensate for that and that we also have a retired dentist who puts in £100 a month. We also have a Shedder who has agreed with Social Services a payment of £10 per day from his Personal Allowance, the fund that allows him to buy in services of his choice.
We tell them what it costs to run the Shed and then leave it to the person to decide how much they feel able to contribute. There are risks with this donations method but it does encourage a responsible attitude and it releases people to choose their own amount which can be much more than an agreed sum.
Last year our average donation was £6.50 per person, per day.
Getting people to pay directly by standing order or electronically has been better than by cash which tends to stick to people’s fingers more. Not only is the amount higher but it is regular, safer, can be directed through Local Giving for matching sums and provides evidence for a Gift Aid claim. Cash donations can also count for Gift Aid. See https://www.gov.uk/claim-gift-aid/small-donations-scheme.
Product sales last year were a few pounds under £2000. A third of this was commissions
(pre-agreed product and price) and £110 was through the website folksy.com. The rest was from selling at stalls, by far the best being a Charity Fair just before Christmas (3 x any summer fair). This year we hope to follow Milton Keynes Shed in doing a ‘sausage sizzle’ at Bunnings as well as offering a knife-sharpening service as Frome Shed have done. Any Shed can apply to Bunnings for a stall from which to sell sausages as prescribed by the company. Someone from the selling group has to attend a Bunnings food hygiene session beforehand and the Shed has to buy all the materials in advance (£150-£200). The Milton Keynes crew made nearly £400 profit on the day and had a very fulfilling time in addition to good publicity. No product sales are allowed unless you make home-made cakes.
Whilst there is nothing in this article about applying for grants and funding, one thing funders love to see is applicants doing as much for themselves as they can and not solely relying on funding to survive.