A new deal for charities and community projects seeking funding was outlined at a meeting in the West Devon council chamber a week ago.
Among those attending the briefing on crowd-funding, and how local authorities want to use the idea, to relieve pressure on their own budgets, were councillors for Tavistock and surrounding parishes and representatives of causes including a farmer-led campaign to save Hatherleigh Market, an idea for developing Bere Ferrers as a watersports centre, a cycling scheme for the elderly, a local cricket club and the Horrabridge Times.
Nadine Trout, the officer representing West Devon and South Hams councils, said the councils had cancelled their old donation lists and put £10,000 in a pot called Crowdfund Devon, from which projects getting off the ground might get match funding.
Devon Council, Exeter, East Devon Council and Devon & Cornwall Police, are also chipping in and more Devon authorities may follow.
But they want to see evidence that an idea is good enough to raise a few sponsors on its own. And they expect applicants to test that by running a campaign through an online business called Crowdfunder UK, based in Liskeard. The company takes 8 percent commission on any payments eventually delivered and filters details of the projects through to the local authorities, according to postcode, so they can decide where they want to intervene.
An agent for Crowdfunder UK, Bertie Herrtage said the JustGiving kind of crowdfunding had led on to the idea of Rewards-based funding, meaning shareholders in a project were promised something back, such as free membership, entry into a raffle for prizes, product samples, etcetera. He introduced some projects already launched this way – a bakery employing handicapped people, which gave away sandwiches and so on to subscribers; a communal allotment which gave seeds and vegetables; and a Plymouth-based tool-sharing network called Borrow Don’t Buy which offered free membership.
He said a typical campaign was run in four weeks, after preparation work. Supporters pledged payments and gave their bank details, to be called on if the target was reached. Meanwhile, the public bodies had people like Ms Trout talent-spotting the best ideas.
She told the hopefuls in the room: “We want to see you get 25 percent of the way before we budge.”
She said the maximum grant from West Devon would be £500 but a scheme could get support from more than one authority.
Wannabe applicants are encouraged to go through an introductory course at