You’ve done your research about community shares and what acquiring a locally-owned asset could mean for your community, but how do you go about beginning this process?
We’ve put together our essential checklist that will help you along the path to success for your very own community share campaign on Crowdfunder.
First thing’s first – every community has some kind of asset with potential and if you haven’t done so already, you need to identify those assets. Organise a meeting, or even a series of meetings for that matter, so that you can begin to generate interest and community spirit as you map out the places that are most important to your community. You need to identify what the project is all about and make sure that this is clear and understandable – it must have a clear benefit to both the community and investors.
Acquiring a community share is a lot of work, there’s no two ways about it – but the reward will be worth it. Understanding the legalities and appointing a couple of members of your community to be in charge of this (which we’ll come to in our next point) is a great way to stay organised. 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.
The best thing about a community share is in the name – it’s all about community! It cannot be launched by a couple of people, because there is simply just too much to do. Having a team with varied ages and skill sets can ensure that you will have all bases covered. If you have a great idea for a community share, recruiting the help of people to join your team shouldn’t be difficult… If you’re having a hard time convincing people to join this core team, then it’s probably an alarm bell that the idea isn’t as exciting to others as it is to you.
You’re already on your way to starting your community shares campaign with Crowdfunder, but you must have a robust business plan before you move on to planning the campaign itself. Not only will it help to convince people that your offer stacks up, but most of all it will convince you too. You’ll need to plan out how much you need and what you could do with more or less funds than you’d ideally like. Potentially the most important question… How will you develop a sustainable business with the money that you raise – what does the future of your asset look like?
Without a crowd investing in your community share offer, it’s just not going to happen. You need to warm people up to the idea of parting with their cash in order to make it happen and ensure that they understand the benefits of being part of your community share. The point of a community share is to own an asset as a community and provide the dynamic for everyone to have their say. So, start as you mean to go on and listen to what people say in response to your plans – allow those views to shape your approach.
You need a plan in place to keep on top of your daily targets once the share offer goes live on Crowdfunder. 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? This is a great time to put together a detailed plan in which you outline what your messaging will look like for different groups. You want to ensure that no potential areas of investment are left untouched.
The time to turn all of your hard work into reality is here! You need to convert all of that good will that you have built up into real, visible money on your Crowdfunder campaign page. All of the time spent engaging with your crowd of supporters should come to fruition as people get excited about how the project is starting to take shape. Be sure to keep those noise levels up about what you are doing – you don’t want anyone to miss out.
You’ve successfully closed your community shares campaign on Crowdfunder and have raised the cash you need to now make the project a reality. Congratulations! As with any project, you might still experience some bumps along the way as timescales slip and plans change slightly in light of the real world, but it is vital to keep investors and other supporters in the loop about these changes. Communication is essential.
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.
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.
• Read more about how Crowdfunder can help you with your community share idea and use the form at the bottom of the page to get in touch today.