A checklist

The checklist

Ten steps to a successful community shares project

What’s the idea?

Identifying what the project is all about is critical. It needs to be concise and understandable, with a clear benefit to the community more generally and better still, a clear benefit to investors..

Build your team

A community share offer cannot be launched by a couple of people because there’s too much to do. It also shouldn’t be organised by a couple of people because if you can’t convince people to join your core team, it’s an alarm bell that the idea isn’t as exciting to other people as it is to you.

Get the right legal structure

A community share offer involves withdrawable share capital, exempt from the usual rules that make raising capital from the public in companies so expensive. You will have to register with The Financial Conduct Authority—either as a co-operative society or community benefit society.

Cost effective

Make a business plan

If you have a robust business plan, it will help convince other people that your offer stacks up, but most of all, it’ll convince you too. You’ll need to plan out how much you need, what you could do with more or less than you’d ideally like, and how you’ll develop a sustainable business with the money you raise.

Grow your crowd

This is probably the most critical aspect. You need to warm people up to the idea of parting with their cash to make this happen. This isn’t just about talking about what you want to do, but listening to what people say in response and allowing those views to shape your approach. 

Plan the campaign

You need a campaign to make sure that you keep on top of your daily targets when the share offer goes live. Are there different groups of people who would respond to a different message about why the project needs support? How will you get your offer in front of people? How can you use your supporters as advocates? Are you engaging hearts and heads? 

Raise the cash

Now it’s time to get serious and convert all of the goodwill you’ve built up. Your hard work engaging your crowd of supporters comes to fruition as people get excited about the prospect of the project becoming a reality.

Cost effective

Make it a reality

The cash has been raised and now you can make the project a reality. There might be bumps on the road, with timescales slipping and plans having to change in the light of the real world, but it is vital to keep investors and other supporters in the loop about these changes.

Engage your ambassadors

You’re up and running, but the hard work doesn’t stop here. Your investor members are probably your biggest customers and users, so keep them close in order to help make you sustainable. If they feel that the community ownership goes beyond an invitation to an AGM and there are meaningful roles within the project, they will become the biggest advocates for what you do.

Move to an open offer

The best way to create a pool of capital in order to enable people to withdraw funds, is to have new investors wanting to become part of the society. Offering an interest rate is really attractive in an era of historic low returns to savers. Through the process of moving to an open offer, community shares change from being about a specific enterprise through to enabling a more effective use of the community’s capital to better serve its needs.

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