I need fundraising ideas for my forming commune! We are all saving what we can but most of us are low income and can only save a few hundred at a time max. We were thinking about a subscription box or selling merch. What would you buy to support another community? What would get a lot of traffic? Any ideas?
I want to offer a blanket apology in advance if I’m overexplaining anything because you never know what strangers know on the internet!
Here are some ideas I had reading your post.
Currently I subscribe to Commune Life’s Patreon, which is run by a group of dedicated folks in the FEC. They send a lot of physical rewards (I’m subscribed to the quarterly seeds tier) and also make media. I am trawling the forums right now and have found your posts to be thoughtful and well worth the read, so maybe starting a Patreon would be a good idea, with digital rewards that are doable to produce, like monthly blog posts and/or live chat sessions? Most Patreons I follow are from authors; I think Commune Life is the only one I get physical rewards from. I’m spitballing, but you could definitely offer different tiers where $5/month allows people to see each monthly blog post; then maybe some higher tiers at $10-50 dollars that offer live chat or advice sessions (only if this doesn’t sound soul-destroying, lol); and $30-50 or whatever is fair for the subscription boxes you’re thinking of. (If a monthly subscription box doesn’t sound doable, you could set the monthly rate at 1/3 the box price and send the boxes out quarterly; that’s what Commune Life does with seeds.) If anyone in your forming community draws or paints, they could upload some content as well and make that that month’s thing … the nice thing about Patreon is that at $1-5 per month, most people won’t even notice if the team needs to skip a month, and I think as long as the team is upfront about having limits and needing to take occasional breaks I think it wouldn’t have to happen every month. I’ve never been a Patreon creator, and I imagine it can be stressful. I think Substack may also offer similar functionalities.
Merch also sounds like a great idea! If you start a Patreon (or if you have a website – maybe you already do?) you’ll have a place people can go and it can also link to a Society6 store, Etsy store and/or whatever. The only terrible thing is that I think all these services have become worse and worse for creators (and in some ways buyers too!) thanks to the infinite growth mindset, so it’s worth doing out all the math on the commissions, etc to make sure it’s actually worth the maker’s time. But I would totally buy Willowhaven merch. It’s a beautiful name and I’m sure would go great on T-shirts and bags with a pretty design.
Would suggest that viable communities with people of a variety of businesses issue a type of currency either/or tied to the base currency of the country in which they live.
Examples exist in the UK such as the Bristol £ and Oriana (South Africa)'s Ora. Many more types exist. What makes these successful is that they are well designed, widely propagated in the media and non-member like myself ( email@example.com ) are extremely interested to purchase them and sell them to other numismatists at a profit.
The way that the community makes money is that almost all currency reaching a collector network will not be returned to be redeemed and though considered a liability in the accounts can be considered one that almost never has to be repaid.
Some communities have insisted on placing “Use By” dates on their currencies but this makes them lose some attractiveness in the collecting community.
I think this might be the topic I stressed the most in the survey (besides ‘more on community, oriented toward community, from communications’, etc).
Being ‘ol skol’ I say “Just do it”. One must start somewhere so declare yourself an intentional community. Publish that. Select something that brings you joy, monitise it (the most difficult step for some). Draw others to you who can contribute in some way (many tasks in there frm writers, organizers, tech [not just ‘puters’], managers, etc). Form a network business from these parties. As it goes develop it into a community business by using that income to purchase land. Throughout - keep a keen eye out for ancillary subsystem development. It can not be loosely ‘extra’ as it will draw off energy/interest. It must be closely allied. This way ur community can allow others with their own interests to flourish. The younger the community the more closely ‘aligned’ it must be. The “older” the more it can ‘stray’.
Assure the ‘product’ is of the upmost quality, become known as a community that provides the ‘best widget’ and folks look for ‘your brand’. Now this approach would be an ic w/its major “i” (intention) to be a community business BUT it can serve the same goal (living together cooperatively, “Business is just how we afford to do this.”). I’ve lived in ‘retreat centers’ (public service: workshops), builders (crews go out to build private homes), and agro-based (sell the public our farm production). Whadaya think?
Land has gotten expensive (near markets) and ol skol - often the property was gifted. I have ideas similar on developing community there but that is not the question asked here.
This topic is one close to my heart.
I offer this work which I do, and if anyone wants to be part of the next offering, let me know:
I think Chad Fuller has said things more succinctly and with more experience than I can (I wrote this before I read his post). Hopefully my two cents add something to the discussion.
As you will probably need an ongoing income source, I would suggest really analyzing things as a business. For a business to be sustainable there needs to be a need. Think about what your commune’s needs are, that are not being filled. Probably there are other people out there with those same challenges, and because you have them yourself, you have an inherent advantage in that you know the problem from the inside. For example, I have an abnormal gait from a bicycle accident and have found it really hard to near impossible find shoes that work to correct this challenge. After many years of frustration around this conundrum, I decided to start being proactive and begin developing my own shoes. Turns out, roughly 18% of the population has this same challenge of not being able to walk normally. This means there are possibly over a billion potential customers worldwide. If you currently have a low income like I do, there is probably some challenge that is getting in your way that is not getting addressed. If you and the rest of your commune can brainstorm “what are my challenges”, or more specifically, what are my personal challenges, those that, even if money and time were not an issue would still remain a challenge. Then do some basic research to find out if other people have these same issues. Finally, try to think of solutions to these problems. You don’t need to know how to implement the solutions – I knew next to nothing about the shoe business and how shoes are made about a year ago – you just need to find some kind of solution to a need that is going unaddressed. Then finding money to form your community to work and implement the solution will be a lot easier, and with money and a physical location, you can be more likely to find people and resources to actually realize on your idea.
I realize that just saying this is a lot, lot easier than having it become a reality (I have been trying to start some manifestation of a business for over a decade) but if you are focus on solving your internal challenges that may have the potential to help other people along the way, it is a lot more tangible of a task than trying start with the problem being a lack of money and then trying to work backward from there. Money is just an exchange of needs, or at least should be. The fact that some people do not get this is a large reason we have this rampant rise in inflation.
“… add something to the discussion…”
(no 'Edit" function on past posts?)
I can totally relate to this post. My husband and I are in that lower income category and I’ve given up on starting an intentional community myself, but I’m hoping to combine with someone else and be one of their founding group potentially, I just need someone who has more ideas about raising funds than we do. I’ll be keeping an eye on this topic both for myself and for a friend of mine, she has a longstanding goal of creating a commune specifically for people with differences (disabilities) and allies, with the goal of everyone creating what they need and also being self-sufficient re. funding to keep things running within. Her population focus is narrower than the original poster’s, but a lot of the same challenges apply.
I have 5 acres in Ireland with poly tunnels and water wheel, dogs cats chickens, donkey poney. I’m looking to expand into pigs ( for plouging ) and ducks.
I’m toying with the idea of making an intentional community, and am trying to make connections I would love to chat to you and husband of you are interested:)
I won’t deny that living in Ireland would be a dream that I’ve had since childhood, but realistically it would be too far away from family and close friends for us. Not to mention that Europe is hard to be allowed into unless we have skills that are needed. Yes I’m a performer and that in itself might help a bit, but I doubt I’m good enough, and I’m only known locally in the faire/Celtic/fantasy singing world, not beyond our local area, so I doubt that would get me in.
I love though that you like the things I’ve been writing and you want to communicate further, you’re welcome to do so if you still want to, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow, since I wrote in this post last we now have a group of 7 cofounders together, hoping to get at least one more before long. They say 8 is a good number, but I’m not opposed to going higher if folks want to and we can have good agreement abilities between all of us. Some of the people in the group have at least some capital/assets so that’s good. I’m starting the process of finding out how much myself and my husband could either get in grants or loans, to put into land collaboratively with our cofounders, and into a modular for the two of us. I’m hoping that there are some first-time homebuyer/working poor/disability related
I’m wondering why you want to re-invent the wheel. Look at where you are. Intentional Communities website. There are long lists of communities all over the world. ~~Back in the 60’s there was a whole Back to Earth movement. Lots of kids moved to the country and started communes and farms and communities. Many of those kids did not want children, because for many of them the world was so horrible and scary, they didn’t want to inflict it upon future kids. Now those 60’s folks are old and have no heirs. But they still have their ideals, and they have land with buildings. Many of them now need younger people to come along and help them keep the place going. Find one of those aging out communities and see about moving there. If you all get along, just maybe you will find home. And the Elders will enjoy the help, friendship, and “family” they need as they finish out their wonderful lives. ~~P.S. That is what I did. I invited a young family here, and now the place is legally theirs (along with other wwoof’ers and IC’ers). We’d like another person or two to join with us. With a preference (because of the nature of the situation) for a young mother and child. Stone Garden Farm. Ohio. -I know of another nearby community in exactly the same situation. Such opportunities are all over the place. Do some research.
What a thought-provoking and well-written reply. I’m not of the era you speak of but came up shortly after.
I followed my grandpa around in the garden when I should have been playing on my bike or with other girls playing with Barbie.
I have always had my heart in the soil. My grandpa grew “heirloom” watermelon (he never called it that) Moon and Stars along with some other veggies on his farm. He taught me as a young girl the importance of open-pollinated (heirloom) seeds and how his relatives arrived on Staten Island with their seeds sewn into their coat hems and hat bands as they were afraid to have their seeds taken from them. Imagine that passion.
When I had the opportunity to grow on an 8-acre farm, I grew only open-pollinated seeds and helped others discover the world of these beautiful crops. Unfortunately, my land was leased and a wine grower was able to offer my landloard more for the land than I could pay.
That ended my farming career as I could not imagine investing so much money and my body into something that might be taken away again.
I would love to be part of a farming IC but at my age, it’s difficult to do the hard work. I have so much talent and have so much to offer - canning, dehydrating, cooking, crafts, teaching, making incredible bounty from the land like vinegar, fermented veggies, shrubs, and many more. #heirloomseed #openpollinated #agingfarmer
Looking for my IC family
I have already started there and found that any deals people are willing to strike with our group are inequitable or exploitative. It’s a shame. If you know of a WA commune that needs young people to take over then let me know, but I have probably already spoken to them and it just won’t work out.
Cheryl (cprice), give us a call, or write. We’re looking for some more people to come here. In particular, we are interested in teachers. We run a Farm School/homeschool for (an awful lot of) kids, and we teach home steading classes for adults. It sounds like you have a wonderful amount of knowledge. Stone Garden Farm & Village. 1-330-212-9934. farmerSGF@yahoo.com.
I am not entitled for refusing to lead my people into modern day slavery.
I have been asked for free labor without food, housing, healthcare, or otherwise from my group in exchange for “considering.” I would rather us raise the money and buy it ourselves than be exploited.
I’m going to take a guess that you are from a much older generation than my own. If that is so, you had a much more generous economy to start adulthood than we have. We pay half or more of our income in rent, and the rest on food and essentials. We save what scraps we can for a hope like Willowhaven. A group of 40 people who have come together and promised to provide for one another without the barrier of money. I tried your advice. I really did. I moved to the other side of the state through the WWOOF program to learn more about agriculture. I found that I was treated as a slave, I had to scrape even more than I already had to to survive. I left with a day’s notice because freezing to death in a tent every night just to dig with rusted tools all day wasn’t worth it to me or anyone else who had come and gone for an “education.” I am now in an online PDC program, on a sponsored plot where I grow my own food. I have my bills paid. I’m fine now, but others aren’t. I know houselessness. And I know exploitation. I know that elderly landowners have an immeasurable advantage over today’s youth. So what do I do now? Do I advise my group of largely 20-30 yos to do what I did? Make even less of a living than they are now? Or do I ask that we all set aside 100$ a month, in the hopes that we can build our own cabins & hobbit holes, and craft things that we need, work to earn enough so we can have a few luxuries - all on our own terms? Raise our adopted or created children to take our place, or offer a better life to others free of charge?
That is what we are after anyway! We work now so that future generations don’t have to. We don’t keep a bitter attitude of “I had to work hard, so you have to EARN what I am giving you first!” We know that we have privileges afforded to us by generosity, and we hope to double it and hand it to the next. Maybe you consider me entitled. I don’t care. What I will say for the whole internet to read is I intend to be as generous as I can afford, BUT I will ALWAYS respect my own rights and boundaries - so I may continue being generous.
To reiterate my previous point I said ECONOMY. Don’t twist my words. You are obviously determined to fight with me about who had it worse. I don’t care who had it worse. I’m sure things were much more awful back then. What matters is that things are STILL awful… and what are we doing to change it? I’m done with this conversation.
Whats disrespectful about this is that I didn’t ask for that sort of advice. I asked for fundraising advice. Your advice was given without a thought of whether I had an interest in it at all.