Aug 17 2006

When funding comes to an end

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Many communities are launched with the benefit of a grant or seed funding. What happens when the funding to support runs out?

It’s helpful to have an “exit strategy” (even from the beginning) since communities that really work for their members tend to have a longer life-span than a grant. If the funded activities are designed carefully, the community’s work together may continue gracefully after the funding has disappeared.

Of course finding other sources of support for a community is the first strategy to consider.
If you plan for the (possibility of an) end to the funding from the beginning, it’s just one more transition for the community, but not necessarily “the end. ” Preparation can begin early since increasing the communications repertoire of the community should always be part of the goal. Consider these ideas:

  • Setting up free or almost free (i.e., supported by advertisements) mailing lists like Yahoo groups
  • Consider development of a platform where “alums” have ongoing, unmoderated access to a self-organizing space. Normally it’s the facilitation and support that’s expensive, not the computer or the platform.
  • In face to face or other synchronous meetings, try to include a little agenda item: “who’s going to be where: speaking, meeting, listening.” That can help develop the network of contact outside of the grant-supported activities.
  • Offer to update a low-tech directory of “members” in the largest sense with email addresses, phone numbers, job titles as an unfunded contribution to the community. It costs you very little, but can be immensely useful to the community.
  • No-cost collaborative practices like tagging do not depend on the funding once people know how to use them.

What else?

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