FINANCE: DEVELOPING STRATEGIES
1. PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT
The second project was financed in three parts. The first third was raised in grants from District and County councils, large charities, some trusts and private benefactors. Local people were invited to give the price of a pint of milk daily for four years - which produced, with tax recovered, £500; and 35 people covenanted out of income on a regular basis to do this. A large hand-addressed mail-out produced further donations.
2. COMMITTED LENDERS
The second third was raised as loans from Triodos, the ethical bank based in Bristol, and the Ecology Building Society, which supported the ultra-ecological building.
3. ETHICAL INVESTORS
The remainder was raised, just as the interest-free period on the land-purchase loan was coming to an end, in 12-year fixed interest loans from private people wanting to support a socially-constructive project by a series of advertisements in The Friend, the Quaker weekly. This yielded £119,500 in the space of three months, with the benefit of fixing the project's finance costs, and guaranteeing its mainly-elderly Quaker supporters a steady income. The Quaker Housing Trust also converted part of its original loan to a grant, to help ensure rents could be kept low.
Since a recession had brought building costs down, this development was done on a normal open tender basis, and completed in six months flat. West Oxon District Council, to its credit, extended the interest-free period on its original loan while construction was completed, and then waived repayment of the last £10,000.
The main lesson learned is that letting people get involved, either by committing loans for a clear reward, or helping to raise money in small portions, can produce great results. There is a large amount of 'ethical money' out there (witness two Traidcraft £1-million shares offers fully taken up, and now the Cafe Direct share issue) and, if you go forward in faith, Providence tends to follow.