Apt Creations a unique charitable enterprise founded in 1998 as part of Camphill St Albans, a community-building venture based on living and working with people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.In June 2010 Cause4 was engaged by Apt Creations (Artists Producing Together) to undertake an assessment of the financial viability of the current Apt Creations operation and to prepare a feasibility paper on alternative business models for APT Creations with conclusions and recommendations particularly focussing on potential changes and reductions in statutory funding.
Cause4 spent a day with Apt Creations in July 2010, meeting the residents, carers and workers of Camphill St Albans and touring the different ventures constituting the operation, including a boutique, gallery, café and studio workshop. The primary aim of the visit was to get an accurate snapshot of the current financial situation and to speak to those who had a personal stake in the venture about what worked and what could be done better to improve profitability and guarantee the future sustainability of Apt Creations.
Cause4 followed up its visit to Apt Creations with an in depth study of the current and projected financial information for the venture and made some further enquiries prior to producing the Feasibility Study. The report produced took as its starting point the importance of Apt Creations for the local residents of Camphill St Albans and also emphasised the need to balance the vulnerability of the residents against any profitable new ventures. Broadly speaking, the greatest obstacle faced by Apt Creations in the short term future was the imminent withdrawal of local authority funding for the studio workshop, which had previously allowed the venture to survive. The new funding structure meant that each resident would receive a personalised allowance which they could choose to use to work in APT Creations but that did not allow for any forward planning and would be considerably less than the current levels of funding.Each component of the enterprise was assessed separately and the study analysed current performance levels, barriers to increased profitability and posited potential strategies for raising funds in the future.
Cause4 produced recommendations around eight main strands of development for the whole of Apt Creations and also suggested fundraising ideas for each arm of the venture. The strands were the structure of the enterprise; advocacy, general reduction of costs and increase of income; staffing and volunteers; increasing enterprise; PR and promotion; charitable fundraising and new ventures.
Coda Music Centre is a Dorset-based charity which has an ethos of using music to create change. This is enacted through championing and delivering creative music making opportunities for all ages, abilities and sectors of the community. Cause4 was engaged by Coda in July 2011 to enable it to develop a business plan to overcome its immediate funding gap and to secure its future profitability through organisational and capital development.
Cause4 visited Coda to meet the Chief Executive, discussing the charity’s vision and operations in order to understanding its needs and future aims. A detailed phase of research and analysis then followed which allowed, Cause4 to develop a detailed business plan to enable Coda to realise its key aim of building a sustainable music village. Four key areas of strategic development were set as well as a three-year plan of implementation:
- a move away from traditional charity practice which focuses on core funding from public sources toward a co-operative social enterprise model to ensure self-sustainability and eventual profitability;
- fundraising strategy;
- the expansion of health and music programmes and the formation of partnerships with other organisations;
- capital development on-site.
After further consultation and feedback from Coda a final business plan was developed with projected profits of £60,000 by 2012/13 and with the potential for around £100,000 per year in the long run. Cause4 is excited about the future of Coda and is looking forward to continuing its support to help the organisation develop a sustainable future.
The Reading Agency
Cause4 started work with The Reading Agency in September 2009 to support strategic development and build fundraising platforms for three main strands of their audience development: children, young people and adults.
We started by consolidating pilot work in the young people’s area into a new programme called MyVoice, a nationwide, youth led literacy initiative, working in partnership with 20 library authorities. MyVoice seeks to inspire disadvantaged young people to engage actively with reading, and become active citizens within their communities. The total budget for the programme for three years from 2011 was £738,870 and Cause4 developed a fundraising strategy which has led to a major award of £346,500 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme. This in turn helped to unlock funds from several other sources including the Rayne Foundation, Grants for the Arts, the Dulverton Trust and the Laing Foundation as well as in kind resources from library authorities and national publishers to meet the overall target.
Cause4 is now focusing on the strategic development of the adult literacy strand, concentrating on expanding the scope and impact of The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge programme. Six Book Challenge is a UK-wide scheme to inspire and support less confident adult readers, helping participants to develop their literacy skills and discover that reading can be a pleasure. Cause4 has supported the delivery of the programme in workplaces around the country and we are currently working on new pilot initiatives to take place within women’s’ prisons, specifically working with older people to encourage wellbeing and health and around exploring the development of a gaming platform to build on the digital offer of the programme.
In addition to the above strands Cause4 is also providing generalist fundraising and development support across The Reading Agency’s whole portfolio of projects including developing new sponsorship relationships and beginning a new programme of engaged philanthropy.