Bright Ideas Fund: Live chat with the experts

This topic contains 66 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Rebecca Speidel 1 year, 1 month ago.

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  • #2630

    Join the three of the Bright Ideas Fund programme experts on the Advice Community Forum to talk about the last round of fund and how to make your application successful.
    Three of the programme staff will be online from 2pm – 3pm on Wednesday 25 October ready to answer any of your questions and talk through the third and final round of the Bright Ideas Fund.

    You’ll pick up helpful hints and tips, be guided through the eligibility criteria and can ask any questions you may have.

    You’ll be joined by:

    Sara Buchanan, Power to Change
    Kobie Cadle, Locality
    Charlotte Cassedanne, Power to Change
    Stephen Rolph, Locality

    There’s no need to RSVP – you can join the chat and ask any questions by signing up to the forum and logging in on the day to be involved.

  • #2634

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Hello everyone,

    Looking forward to answering your questions about round 3 of Bright Ideas at 2pm today! Here’s a link to the Guidance to have a look at in advance.
    Bright Ideas Guidance Notes: http://mycommunity.org.uk/resources/bright-ideas-community-business-fund-guidance-notes/

  • #2635

    Stephen Rolph
    Participant

    Yes, me too. Looking forward to chatting to you all at 2pm!

  • #2636

    Lawrence
    Participant

    Hello. how does this live chat work?

    forum posts, chat box kind of thing?

  • #2640

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Hi Lawrence – we’ll be starting in about 5 minutes – just post a question in the box and we will answer it! The stream of Q and As will be available after the Live Chat ends on this website.

  • #2642

    Kobie_C
    Participant

    Hi Lawrence, its a public chat using the Reply To box – exactly as you’ve done. You can type your question and we’ll do our best to respond, and you should also be able to see our replies to you.

  • #2643

    Welcome to the Bright Ideas Round 3 Q&A live chat for the next hour. We’ll be going through the criteria and top tips to make a strong application but feel free to ask us questions at any time. We’ll do our best to answer them.

  • #2644

    Helen Turner
    Participant

    Hello,
    Just wondering. This round of BIF funding is just for new organisations. How do you define new organisation? If a community group that has been in existence for some years wanted to set up a new and separate trading social enterprise would this be defined as new or not? Thanks Helen

  • #2645

    First, let’s meet our panel: Sara, can you introduce yourself?

  • #2646

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Hello everyone, I work for Power to Change, managing the bright Ideas Fund.

    • #2658

      Lawrence
      Participant

      I Know this is round 3. My organisation is Based in Milton Keynes, we are wanting to create a community focused company (legal entity not finalised yet, we looking at being Limited by guarantee to get started then process to another form that suits our purpose)

      The mission of the company is to become an enabler for community-led housing, facilitate the creation of communities, train and guide potential residents through the process. Also serve as a community housing developer. At this point, we do not have a business plan in writing. I understand have the Ideas stage of the grant. We know we want to apply for a grant for a feasibility study to aid us with gaining local support. I like to aim for the “Pre-venture stage”. any tips on getting ourselves eligible for that higher stage?

      also as this is round 3, other rounds set to happen, should we not be ready before the closure date and may have to get ready for next time? I’ve only recently discovered about this programme

      • #2669

        This is the third and final round of Bright Ideas. We expect to be able to support up to 20 new community businesses. Competition will be strong so please read through the guidance carefully and call the Locality helpline to make sure you submit the strongest application you can.

  • #2647

    Stephen and Kobie, can you introduce yourselves and then we can start answering questions like Helen’s.

    • #2649

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      Hi, I’m Stephen Rolph, I work for Locality and manage the Bright Ideas programme. Locality is delivering Bright Ideas in partnership with Coops UK, the Plunkett foundation and Groundwork UK.

    • #2673

      SaraBuchanan
      Participant

      Hi Lawrence, you don’t need to specify whether you are at the Ideas stage or pre-venture when you apply. We just use these categories to help us judge what form of support will be best for you and to give you an idea of how much grant you can expect to receive. Just make an application to the Bright Ideas Fund and we will see where you fit. It sounds like you are at a good stage to apply and you don’t need to have a business plan in place – that’s exactly what Bright Ideas can help you develop. There is likely to be a a similar early stage support programme opening at some stage next year, but it may not be until the second half of next year, so I would recommend applying to this round.

  • #2648

    Kobie_C
    Participant

    Sure, hi everyone I’m Kobie and I work with Stephen at Locality. We’re delivering the programme for Power to Change and DCLG along with our partners Plunkett Foundation and Cooperatives UK.

  • #2650

    Thanks Kobie! Would one of you like to reply to Helen’s question directly?

  • #2651

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Sure, I will

  • #2652

    Alison Elvey
    Participant

    If an idea is still at the “idea” stage what would you like to see on the application as part of the community involvement evidence. Thank you

    • #2654

      The Helpline or Live chat details can be found on the Helpcentre section of the MyCommunity website https://mycommunity.org.uk/help-centre/contact-us/

      • #2692

        Lawrence
        Participant

        is contact purely online forms. or is there a helpline number? i cant see it on that page

    • #2664

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      Alison, we appreciate that your ‘idea’ might be new, but we are still looking for evidence of community involvement, e.g. are there other people on your board from the local area, are there people working with you as volunteers (or paid staff) who are able to influence the direction of your business, for example through membership, ownership or regular consultation.

      For example: Moseley Road Baths Action group applied to Bright Ideas to help save their local swimming pool and turn it into a viable community business. The group already consisted of a number of local organisations and has continued to build a very impressive partnership which includes national players such as the National Trust, The Princes Regeneration Trust in addition to the many local organisations and community groups/stakeholders. All these organisations are putting time and resource into getting the Local Authority to keep the swimming facility open for a further nine months to allow the group sufficient time to develop their operational capacity to run the facility in the future.

    • #2665

      To answer Alison’s question, we’ll go through a few of the different questions we ask you in the application, and what we are looking for. Firstly there is a question called:

      Tell us what you know about your community, how your idea will meet local needs and how you know this.

      You know best what your community needs. Be specific, not general – we don’t need endless stats and research but we do need to know why and how you think your community business could make a difference.

      For example: In round 1 we supported Inside Workout in Salford – an idea to create an accessible community gym removing all barriers to entry so that people from all backgrounds can come together for improvement of health and wellbeing and community cohesion. A local community organiser developed the idea based on two years of community consultation which identified key issues in the community such as rise in gang violence, lack of youth spaces and activities, unemployment, poor health and lack of community spirit, in an area with 3000 new homes but a lack of new community facilities.

  • #2653

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Thanks Helen, in this final round of Bright Ideas we have introduced a new eligibility criteria – we are asking for organisations that have been constituted for no longer than 5 years – this is to ensure that we are really finding new community businesses to support. If you are not sure whether you fit this criteria, you can call Locality’s helpline to discuss with an adviser.

    • #2656

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      And just to add to Sara’s answer, we will be looking at your governance documents to assess this criteria. What matters is the year in which you were constituted, not the exact date. So for example, if you were constituted on 1st May 2013 – that’s ok we won’t exclude you!

  • #2655

    Helen Turner
    Participant

    Thanks Sara
    Will there be a further round of community business funding in 2018?

  • #2657

    Stephen, could you answer Alison’s question please? I believe that is the first of our top tips for making a strong application…

    • #2661

      Lawrence
      Participant

      I’m eager to know that answer too

  • #2659

    DNA
    Participant

    Hello

    Is the fund also available for the organisation members as a salary or it is voluntary unpaid work

  • #2660

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Our main Community Business Fund which is for more established organisations wishing to scale, with grants of £50,000 to £300,000 available, will reopen in 2018. Exact dates will be published on our website and in our newsletter.

  • #2662

    exchange
    Participant

    Hi, How much of the governance related issues that impact on ‘community business’ definitions are specifically related to articles of association / legal model etc? Do you look at other factors / governance docs in how we operate?

    • #2668

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      Hello exchange. What sorts of ‘issues’ are you thinking about specifically? My initial response is that we will look at both aspects – the governing document and evidence of operation to establish community business eligibility.

  • #2663

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    To answer DNA’s question – a community business can include paid staff and unpaid volunteers. However, a grant from Bright Ideas can’t be used to pay for ongoing salaries. It can be used to pay for short term consultancy fees or expert advice – for example, legal fees or building surveyors – anything that is part of the development of your idea, rather than ongoing running costs.

  • #2666

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    In reply to the question about governance and legal structures – we fund a variety of legal structures – registered charities, community interest companies community benefit societies, coops and so on. We don’t define a community business by its legal structure but by how you show the community is engaged and involved in decision making for example through membership or through participation on your board, or through regular consultation with your community.

  • #2667

    Lawrence
    Participant

    sorry I posted this twice. i thought had gotta missed as i did send as a new post before.

    • #2670

      Kobie_C
      Participant

      Hi Lawrence, sounds really interesting. Everyone applies for the programme, and if accepted they are provided with an Advisor who acts as a critical friend. The Advisors carry out what we call a ‘scoping meeting’ with the group which means talking through the idea, and developing an action plan. Once this meeting has happened, groups can then apply for the grant. The grant could potentially be used for things like feasibility studies.

      • #2674

        Lawrence
        Participant

        So that advisory would be better to ask this question to:

        I like to aim for the “Pre-venture stage”, get ourselves passed the “idea stage” asap. Any tips on getting ourselves eligible for that higher stage?

        • #2677

          Kobie_C
          Participant

          Yes that’s right Lawrence. The Advisor’s role is really to help groups develop their ideas. I think my reply jumped around a bit! The Advisors have various skills around business planning, financial modelling etc and they will be able to talk through the grant application process as well. Therefore, I don’t think you need to worry too much about which level you come into the programme as.

    • #2680

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      Lawrence, you also need to think about the community business idea at the heart. What is the business that will trade for local community benefit? Can you describe it in simple terms? Sometimes there’s clear idea about ‘community need’ but less idea about the business idea that could meet that need. You might need a bit more of a conversation with our Advice Service first before submitting a final application.

      • #2702

        Lawrence
        Participant

        ok, can I get a contact for your advice service?

  • #2671

    exchange
    Participant

    Thanks for that!

    • #2675

      Kobie_C
      Participant

      The Advisors have various skills around business planning, financial modelling etc and they will be able to talk through the grant application process as well. Therefore, I don’t think you need to worry too much about which level you come into the programme as.

  • #2672

    emmaadelaide
    Participant

    Hi all, thanks for making yourselves available to ask questions about this last round.
    We won’t be incorporated until the end of December. Will this mean we are not eligible to apply and will miss the deadline?

    • #2676

      Lawrence
      Participant

      How long does the process take? what legal status did you opt’d for?

    • #2678

      SaraBuchanan
      Participant

      Hi Emmaadelai – you can apply even if you are not incorporated. Just tell us where you are in the process and this may be one area that an adviser can support you with, if you are accepted onto the programme.

      • #2679

        Lawrence
        Participant

        Does that apply of not applied for being incorporated yet, or must have started that process?

        • #2682

          SaraBuchanan
          Participant

          It’s Ok too if you haven’t started the incorporation process yet, as long as you are intending to incorporate. However, if you are unincorporated when you apply for the grant element of the programme, you will need to nominate an incorporated organisation who can hold the funds on your behalf.

        • #2683

          Kobie_C
          Participant

          Hi Lawrence, just to add to Sarah’s reply – there’s lots of legal structures to choose from and its really important to choose the right one for the business as they each have tax and other important implications. Groups don’t have to have started the process but do need to indicate in their application where they are up to and whether they are seeking advice through the programme. There’s more info in the guidance: https://mycommunity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Bright-Ideas-Applicant-Guidance_Feb17.pdf

          • #2684

            Lawrence
            Participant

            Thanks – The advisor can help pick the correct one

        • #2685

          Stephen Rolph
          Participant

          Lawrence, you don’t HAVE to have started the incorporation process to apply to Bright Ideas, but any applicant who has is recommended to say so in their application. There’s a handy guide on Locality’s website about choosing a legal structure: http://locality.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Choosing-a-legal-structure-toolkit.pdf Don’t rush into this important decision without investigating the options.

  • #2681

    emmaadelaide
    Participant

    Thanks Sara – I guess the concern is that we would like to access the max amount of funding available for new organisations (if we’re lucky enough to be successful!). We are already receiving funded support to incorporate as a co-operative (takes a while!) so the application would be for the start-up / development costs after we achieve this.

    If we get through on the pre-venture stage would we be able to pause until we are fully incorporated and can then apply for the maximum grant amount? Ongoing support from incorporation onwards would be absolutely incredible as this is such a vulnerable stage for new community groups and getting the decision-making and participation right 😀

    • #2687

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      Timing is certainly important, for example: In round 1, we supported Dartmouth Hill Community shop. When they applied, the group had been in existence for less than a year and had come together to save the last retail unit in the village from a private development company who wished to turn it into flats. They had already engaged their community and gathered over 120 supporters for their vision of a community owned shop / hub.

      They had very specific time limited objectives linked to a planning process. They needed support from us to develop the right legal and governance structure for their community business so they could put in a credible alternative bid for the lease of the building.

      With guidance from their Advisor, this group has now recruited committee members with the right skills, chosen a legal form (Community Benefit Society) and completed a business plan. They have used the BI grant funding to engage a solicitor to negotiate their lease terms.

      They have completed their share prospectus, engaged the community with their share offer launch and successfully raised the target amount. They have recruited staff and volunteers and are about to fit out the shop ready for opening.

  • #2686

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Hi again Emmaadelai, the timing question is important. The Bright Ideas programme comes to an end at the end of July 2018, so everyone on the programme needs to have used up their advisor time and spent their grant by the end of July. So you need to be realistic in planning out what you can achieve in this timeframe. It would be ok to be using Bright ideas support to work on other activities alongside incorporation, for example developing your governance structure and a business plan etc.

  • #2688

    Lawrence
    Participant

    Thank you for answer my questions guys. very appreciated

  • #2689

    exchange
    Participant

    Is the bright ideas a good idea to apply for with a view to accessing com. business fund later down the line? Or would benefitting from funding here, make you less likely to be successful if applying for another fund in future? (we’re working towards purchase and renovation of a sizeable property) – Ideally purchase within the year!

    • #2695

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      Hi Exchange, it’s difficult to say for sure, but a successful Bright Ideas project might be in a better shape to consider the community business fund later on. Clearly, there’s a big difference between the two programmes, so you should ensure that you are looking at the right opportunity in relation to your project. If you are looking to purchase a ‘sizable property’ within the year then I assume that you are already quite advanced and perhaps beyond the scope of Bright Ideas? You’ll need to get in touch with us to explain more.

  • #2690

    Stephen Rolph
    Participant

    I’d just to expand on one of the core eligibility criteria that we ask about in the application: “Tell us how your community project will become a community business”? What we want to know is how will it generate earned income – what activities, services, expertise or products will you sell to make money that you can reinvest into your community?  

    For example: Permafurtue AgroEcology in Doncaster came to us with an ambitious scheme to takeover a disused urban farm and combat local food poverty through setting up a subsidised veg box scheme with training and employment opportunities for local disadvantaged people. With support from their BI advisor,  the group completed a successful revision of their Veg Box business plan and cash flow forecast/sales projections. This helped them to prepare for the launch of their scheme in May 17. They are currently selling 20+ boxes per week and developing a Training the Trainer programme to generate more income.

  • #2691

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Hi exchange, in brief Yes! You would be eligible to apply to our larger Community Business Fund further down the line if you had received Bright Ideas Funding. While not an automatic gateway for the Community Business Fund, the aim of Bright Idea is to support the development of early stage community businesses so they are more likely to be able to meet the criteria of the Community Business Fund.

  • #2693

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    We have a couple of minutes left – does anyone have any more questions!

  • #2694

    emmaadelaide
    Participant

    Great, thanks very much Sara!

  • #2696

    exchange
    Participant

    Excellent, we’re just in the process of tendering a feasibility study relating the premises / proposed use. Potentially capital grants would commence early 2018. What would you recommend in terms of the time line at your end? Don’t think CBF dates are out yet. My worry being that I’d love to apply for bright ideas, but could a bright ideas grant cause a potential delay in purchase? Which would be ok if less people were involved and waiting for progress. haha

    • #2701

      Stephen Rolph
      Participant

      Exchange – applicants to Round 3 should get our decision in this calendar year, so you would know before the end of December whether you were on the programme or not. All sorts of things could cause a delay in a potential property purchase, but I don’t see why Bright Ideas would be any more risky than say assembling the capital funding for a purchase.

  • #2697

    SaraBuchanan
    Participant

    Thanks for the great questions! Don’t forget to look at our case studies to see the kind of community business ideas we have supported so far and to help you understand our definition of a community business:
    Here’s some case studies about previous community business ideas we’ve funded: https://mycommunity.org.uk/take-action/community-business/case-studies/?subject=community-business&cpt=case_study

  • #2698

    Kobie_C
    Participant

    Thanks everyone!

  • #2700

    exchange
    Participant

    Thanks! Thats great.

  • #2703

    Thanks to everyone who took part in today’s live chat with the Bright Ideas Fund experts!

    If you have any other questions, please contact the My Community Help Centre: https://mycommunity.org.uk/help-centre/

    Best of luck with your applications!

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