Donors and funding sources

Feedback needed

Who would donate to a fund to support collective housing in the Boston Area?
From whom would we be soliciting funding? 
Would we want to use grants and foundations or raise money within the community?  Why?

Monthly contribution from Boston Co-opers

We propose that our main funding source come from ourselves-- Boston-area co-opers.

We would invite co-op houses to agree to add a voluntary $5 contribution to each housemate's monthly rent, much like many houses already tack on a small "house fund" contribution for purchasing shared food or household supplies.  House treasurers would pool the money and send regular donations to the Fund at a set interval.  This need not be our only funding source, but we believe it should be one of the major ones. 

Using low-ball figures, at $5 per resident with 7 housemates (a small co-operative), 12 months a year with 10 houses participating, we would raise $5,000 per year.  We estimate that there are at least 50 co-op houses in Boston, and at least 30 of them have actively participated in Collective House Assembly events.  We have already approached many Boston co-op houses with this proposal and they have responded positively.  Given this enthusiasm and these conservative estimates, we believe we could raise at least $10,000 to $15,000 annually based on this collective donation system alone.

This proposal has several strengths:
  • Community building - When the funds come from co-opers, the cooperative community in Boston will be (literally!) invested in the success and growth of the new co-ops we support with these funds.  This won't just be a nice side project of the Collective House Assembly, but instead would become another concrete mechanism through which co-opers throughout Boston interact, personally and regularly, encouraging engagement and participation.  By centering co-opers as a major funding source, we would keep the Fund focused on the priorities and needs of Boston's collective living community; at the same time newly funded co-ops would be more likely to benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience of collective living since it would behoove donors to ensure new co-ops succeed.
  • Independence - By funding ourselves (at least partially), we ensure that local priorities and needs, based on the ideas of co-opers and housing justice activists who live and work in the Boston area, will not be subsumed by the goals of national organizations or foundations, which may be out of touch with the nuances of our region and community.
  • Reliability - Creating a regular source of income spread out over a wide base of support (goal: every co-oper in Boston!) will ensure that the Fund gets funding even if we miss a grant cycle or don't receive foundation funding.
  • Spreading the wealth - Boston's cooperative community has a lot of wealth in it-- from the assets of cooperatively-owned land and buildings to the income of the many workers who choose to live cooperatively.  By pooling a small portion of this wealth together, we can directly, tangibly redistribute it so that cooperative housing becomes affordable, accessible housing in our city.
[I urge people to check out the book The Revolution Will Not be Funded for more ideas and discussion on funding community projects from within the project's community.    - Kyla]

Other funding sources (because diversity is a strength!)

Foundations and grants
There may be many foundations that would offer grants to support the growth of cooperatives, cooperative houses, or potentially housing justice.

Donations of money and property

We can solicit donations of money and even property from the general public and local cooperative businesses.

We would need some kind of non-profit status or an umbrella 501-c3 (maybe BCC?) to make these donation tax-deductibe and handle any large sums.

Allied loans
We may seek loans from supporters and community members.  Allied loans would be used as supplemental financial support for the purchase of future houses.   Loans would be for a 5-year term at a fixed interest rate of 0-3%, as agreed on in advance.  These loans allow for future co-ops to gain capital at a lower interest rate than their mortgage would allow, but still offers a higher interest rate than individuals might get at their banks.   Minimum loan amount may be from $1,000-$5,000. 

Grassroots Fundraising
Basic grassroots fundraising tactics could all apply to a project like this: tabling, mailings/e-mailings, benefit events, etc etc.

Delayed Start
We may want to create a minimum # of houses or people before money would start being collected.  We might say that we'll only starting collecting money until, say after 50 people are signed up. 

Please add your comments or ideas!