Freedom Bakery is a social enterprise based at HMP Low Moss, close to Glasgow, where they teach prisoners artisan baking. Through their scheme, prisoners don’t just have a higher chance of employment post-release (graduates attain a SVQ 2 in craft bakery), but it also helps them to view themselves as confident, valuable members of society. Not only does this mean big savings for society, but Freedom Bakery also state that sustainable employment has been proven to reduce reoffending rates dramatically.
Despite this win-win situation, Freedom Bakery receives no public funding and instead runs as a self-sustaining business. Matt, the project owner, told us, “We have been operating for 9 months now with a small base of loyal wholesale customers. Now we need to expand to meet demand and to provide further opportunities for the people we were set up to help.”
Raise money to establish a second bakery that will reduce reoffending rates through the baking of delicious artisan products.
Project owner Matt explained that they raised some money through a loan which was eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) that allows people to invest in social enterprises with a tax rebate from the government. “We also raised money through various charitable organisations with grants to fund our training and mentoring activities for our apprentices.”
So what inspired them to crowdfund? Matt explained, “When you’re ‘inside’, it’s hard to tell the story of what you are trying to achieve! We wanted the public to see what we had been doing, and where we’re going. And we did get noticed. We had stories in five national newspapers, a radio programme and some TV broadcast too. We also saw interest from new potential customers coming to the surface. We wanted to create our initial fundraising target through a Crowdfunder campaign, and use this to present a case for strong public interest to help us raise the further investment needed.”
The project was a huge success and they raised a total of £16,595, beating their £15k target, in just 28 days from 269 supporters.
Rewards ranged from £5 up to £1,000 and reflected the nature of the project beautifully; from pastries and loaves to baking classes and recipe cards. For each pledge, Freedom Bakery also offered a ‘rewardless’ option, for those who simply wanted to donate. This proved very popular, with two supporters even choosing the £1,000 rewardless pledge.
Freedom Bakery benefited from a lot of press coverage. National newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian wrote about the social enterprise aspect of the project, and there was also interest locally with The Daily Record, The National, Evening Times and Third Force News covering the story.
Fellow project owner Immy told us, “A big sigh of relief and a party for the team! We’re going to use this initial funding to help raise the further investment we need to open our next bakery in Glasgow!”
We asked Immy for her top tips to anyone thinking about crowdfunding…
View it as a full time job. “It is hard work and can take its toll emotionally, especially if you worry you won’t make it! It should always be thought of as business as usual.”
Always be shouting about it. “You have to try to constantly publicise what you’re doing. I’m sure everyone got sick of us on social media, but you have to try and reach as many people as possible. If we were to do another, I think we would plan more events, like a tasting for example, to take place half way through the crowdfunding project as we experienced a huge lull in pledges around this time, which I understand to be quite common, but for us issued panic! Keep calm and persevere!”
Don’t forget your supporters. “I think keeping up strong communications with the people who have already pledged is really important, because it is fair to say that once people have pledged they will probably put your project out of their mind, but this way it stays fresh and means that they are more likely to talk to their friends about it, and perhaps recommend that they pledge too.”
• Want to know more about Freedom Bakery? Visit their Crowdfunder project page here.
Do you have an idea or early stage enterprise to create jobs for ex-offenders or people in recovery? We have £100,000 to support charities and social enterprises that prioritise creating jobs for ex-offenders and people in recovery, two groups mainstream employers are least likely to hire. Find out more here.