About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

A crowdfunding toolkit for community investment

We know that to grassroots community groups, raising money through shares and bonds can seem confusing and complex. We have designed this Crowdfunding Community Investment Toolkit to help community groups navigate their options. It takes participants on a process from establishing which part of their project could benefit from a different type of funding, through learning about which crowdfunding community investment tools would suit the project’s needs best, to mapping out the support needs of the organisation to undertake the process.

Crowdfunding investment toolkit routemap diagram listing 6 stages of the process

Could crowdfunding community investment make it happen?

Investment based crowdfunding models, such as community shares and community bonds, have successfully been used to fund a broad range of community-led initiatives from saving local shops and pubs from closure to creating new art spaces and affordable homes.

Our recent work has shown how these models can help fund community projects that would otherwise struggle to get finance elsewhere, increase people giving their time to these initiatives, and strengthen local resilience and self-determination. However, community groups looking at using these tools often struggle to understand whether they’re right for their project, how much money they should ask for and from who, what they can offer in return and how best to run a campaign.

Who this is for

This toolkit is designed for the following users:

  • Individual community groups/groups of individuals (either with a project they want to develop, or those looking for inspiration)
  • Networks of community organisations/umbrella organisations
  • Institutions looking to understand how communities can use such tools, and in which areas they can provide the most useful support

How you can use the toolkit

The three activities in this toolkit can be run in a number of ways, depending on the participants, context and size of group. We have created a short facilitation guide which takes you through each stage, provides agenda suggestions and lists the resources required.

In the toolkit

The toolkit is based around three worksheets which guide participants on a journey to understand how crowdfunded community investment could help their project, which of the tools would suit it best, and what support they may need to make it happen.

Image of the collection of three worksheets

The collection of worksheets (high quality versions in PDF download)

Worksheet one - the project

In the first worksheet you will explore the project that you think could benefit from crowdfunded community investment and answer questions about the context of the community group, the specific project you would like to fund, and how much it might cost.

Worksheet two - the tools

The second worksheet introduces community shares and bonds, and guides you through consideration of which would suit your project best, how you could involve your community in decision-making, and what the investment campaign might look like.

Worksheet three - are you ready?

The final worksheet gets you thinking about how ready you feel to take on the task of raising community finance, and to identify the types of support you might need to have a successful campaign and a sustainable project.

In addition to the worksheets, the following documents make up the downloadable PDF toolkit, with the facilitation guide containing full instructions on how to work through each stage. We recommend printing the worksheets at A3 or larger size.

  • Facilitation guide - to help guide you through the activities
  • Slide presentation - to structure the session(s) and provide information on the tools

The toolkit is supported by the following online resources:

Sharing and feedback

We hope that this toolkit is helpful to the organisations that use it. We would love to hear how you used it and what it helped you with.

Share how you used the toolkit on social media using the hashtag #NestaCrowdfundingToolkit

Please do send any feedback on how the toolkit worked for you, to [email protected].

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Rosalyn Old

Rosalyn Old

Rosalyn Old

Researcher, Government Innovation

Rosalyn was a researcher in Nesta's Government Innovation team.

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Jonathan Bone

Jonathan Bone

Jonathan Bone

Mission Manager, healthy life mission

Jonathan works within Nesta Cymru (Wales), focusing on working across public, private and non-profit sectors to deliver innovative solutions that tackle obesity and loneliness in Wales.

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Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Director of the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design

Peter leads work that explores how combining human and machine intelligence can develop innovative solutions to social challenges.

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