One of the three REconomy Guides published recently was Jo Taylor‘s Transition Core Resourcing. It explores 6 different approaches by which Transition groups might look to bring in finance in order to support the core of their work. Here we present some extracts from that Guide, presenting the 6 approaches, and a selection of examples from across the movement of them in practice:
The challenge of securing core resources is not unique to Transition Initiatives. Most charities, community groups and social enterprises are constantly managing the balancing act of funding both their projects and core work. There is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to core funding. Rather, Transition Initiatives are funding their core activities by mixing and matching different approaches. Transition Initiatives appear to use one or more of these six main approaches to fund core work:
1. Grant fundraising Grant fundraising Grant fundraising
Sustaining Dunbar secured a grant of £90,000 over two years from the Climate Challenge Fund for the Dunbar 2025 project – a two year community engagement project which included the development of a Local Resilience Action Plan.
Transition Town Totnes used this approach successfully in its early years. They secured £5,000 from a local benefactor, and used this to pay a skilled fundraiser who secured £80,000. The donor really liked the idea of multiplying up their impact in this way.
2. Securing donations from local people
Transition Town Lewes pays someone about £250 a month to keep their website up to date, and to produce their newsletter. Monthly donations (£5 to £20) from local Transition supporters cover two thirds of the cost, bringing in about £150 a month. People donate via Paypal or standing order (preferred as Paypal makes a charge) using a simple form. Donors were recruited via the Transition Town Lewes newsletter, and 1,000-strong mailing list. Most have continued donating since the scheme launched two years ago.
Marburg im Wandel, in Germany plan to partner with a community land project and local co-op and introduce a system of ‘fair founding points’. This 1/10/100 strategy collects money in three steps: 1. donation of 1€ via paypal to sign up to the joint project newsletter 2. donation of 10€ to be a supporter of the initiative 3. payment of 100€ to purchase a share in the project Payments 1.and 2. are non-returnable so can be spent during the start-up phase. Payment 3. is for a share where a return on investment is anticipated.
3. Working in Partnership
As a result of the good links they have at the town, district and county level, Transition Town Dorchester were invited to include their work in a bid for Big Lottery ‘Communities Living Sustainably’ funding. As a result, they secured £7,500 over three years to pay a co-ordinator to focus on outreach for half a day a week. The time spent by the co-ordinator is tiny in comparison to that put in by volunteers, but crucially, they do the work that the volunteer team doesn’t really want to do. Paying someone also brings a focus to things that might otherwise not get done.
One of the founders of Viver Telheiras in Lisbon has secured funding to study for a PhD at Lisbon University. He is undertaking action research into the work of Viver Telheiras and similar community groups, and is able to spend time working on core activities as well. This partnership with the university has also allowed Viver Telheiras to use the skills of university students to support core activities.
Inspiring others to take action is a key part of Transition Linlithgow’s approach. This enables the group to deliver core activities through partnership. One result is the Black B’tch magazine (named after a dog story in the town’s past). The magazine was created by members of the business association and others, with Transition Linlithgow helping to kick start the idea. The magazine is funded by local business advertising. The main costs are graphic design and printing. Articles and photos are contributed for free and it is hand delivered by volunteers to every house in town – about 6,000 properties. Transition Linlithgow love the magazine, which allows them to inject positive messages, stories and event information. Amongst other things, they have written about energy saving, food co-ops, REconomy, and orchards.
4. Selling knowledge and services
Transition Sudbury and District rent out their apple press and gazebo (purchased with grant funding) to other organisations to generate income. They are fundraising to buy a smoothie bike which they are planning to rent out. The group also runs refreshment stands at their own and other local events to generate income.
Transition Town Wigan, and Billinge and Orrell is seeking three years of funding for two staff members to roll out the Billinge and Orrell approach and set up a self-sustaining network in each district within the Wigan area. As part of this package, some core resource will be allocated to Transition Billinge and Orrell. This approach is ‘selling’ Transition Town Wigan, and Billinge and Orrell’s expertise in setting up a successful Transition Initiative, to do the same elsewhere.
Viver Telheiras in Portugal is seeking funding for a communications and design worker to provide free services to the Transition Initiative and its partners, but also sell paid-for services more widely to generate income.
Members of Den Haag in Transitie in the Netherlands are not paid for their direct work for the Transition Initiative. The Transition Initiative seeks to create jobs for, or help its volunteers get paid assignments through its network and reputation. As a result, many of the core volunteers work part-time as self-employed entrepreneurs in Transition-related activities and have enough time left to invest voluntary hours in the Transition Initiative.
Transition Sudbury and District run ‘Greeniversity’ skill share events. Workshops to date have included bread making, Christmas wreath making, composting, vegetable growing, knitting, felting, and keeping chickens, and are aimed at beginners. Workshops are run by volunteers from the group or people they know, who give their time for free. The local Sainsburys provides a free training room. Attendees are invited to donate what they can towards attending.
5. Setting up and income-donating Transition enterprise
Sustaining Dunbar initially looked into establishing a community wind turbine, but this is on hold due to planning issues. A community-owned solar farm is at the feasibility stage, and community owned, hydrogen-based, energy storage is being considered. Asset ownership is also being explored, with the group looking to secure a two acre site to create a community enterprise park which will generate income from leasing land and buildings.
6. Securing contibutions from enterprises you have set up
Some Transition Initiatives, including Sustaining Dunbar, and Transition Town Brixton have agreements with their spin-off enterprises to covenant a proportion of profits back to the ‘parent’ Transition Initiative when financial performance reaches a certain level. In practice, the enterprises are not yet ready to do so. Whether there is the financial potential, or motivation for spin-off enterprises to provide funding for core Transition activities remains to be seen. Some Transition Initiatives feel that generating income by providing services to spin-off enterprises or providing a paid-for membership package of benefits to enterprises appears more viable.
You can download Transition Core Resourcing here.