Fundraising December update

It’s been a few weeks since we launched our Big Rebuild campaign and laid out a plan to stop Freedom from slowly dissolving in the rain, making nine campaigning and support service groups homeless. So it’s high time for a roundup!

In short we’ve made at least some progress and there’s been some good news in the form of donations and pledges, but there’s also some worries and shortfalls.

The good news

There’s been some income, and many thanks to everyone who’s donated! So far we’ve had:

  • Cheques and donations worth £1,014
  • Pledges worth £3,000
  • £153 pledged online

Total: £4,167

Which makes our year one targets look something like this:

Freedom-Fund-2911.jpg

One thing keen-eyed building project types will note about this list is that the repointing (fixing up the bricks and mortar so that they’re protecting against leakage and damp) is a big chunk of the money, but isn’t a massively skilled job — there’s even people in the building who already have some experience of doing it. And this is true. In theory, we could save a big whack of the necessary money by getting in volunteers to do the work.

However, as anyone who’s run a volunteer-led rebuilding project will tell you, what people will promise to do and what actually happens is not always one and the same. If we spend £2,500 on scaffolding for a month but no-one shows up to work it’s just a massive waste of funds. So we’re playing this one safe. We need enough money to make sure that when the scaff goes up, the job gets done regardless. If people then show up to make the job cheaper that’s all good  — we have another £30,000-worth of works to be done which isn’t so immediately pressing like fixing the windows, the stairs, the inside walls etc. This is a multi-year project and all the money will get spent on things that are needed.

What we’re doing next

Various kind people have helped put together graphics and print runs for other bits and pieces, some of which you may have seen at this year’s anarchist bookfair, including a range of tote bags, T-shirts and stickers which can be picked up either from the Freedom shop, or bought online.

Following on from this, we’re looking at setting up a gofundme campaign with some interesting tweaks on what you can get hold of. Author-signed merch, that sort of stuff. When we have more details on that we’ll pass ’em straight on.

There’s also been a couple of very welcome offers to put on gigs, which if they come off will help both to raise funds and get the campaign noticed — as we also have a year two and year three to sort out at some point that’ll be no bad thing!

And of course along with running this blog soliciting people like you for cash we will be needing to send off funding applications to various grants organisations, and good old begging letters to people who we think might be able to  get our totals looking a bit less daunting.

The worries

Essentially our main worries at the moment revolve around the very ordinary problems of long-term volunteer organising. The Freedom Building user group has nine member organisations (more on them another time), but all are typically quite stretched doing useful stuff like investigating corporate malpractice, or helping people to not lose their homes, or sending books to prisoners.

So while we have various people seconded to the fundraising group it’s quite difficult to, for example, be volunteering at a group in a core capacity, working to keep heads above water and running quite time-intensive fundraising campaigns.

So we could very much do with a hand if there’s anyone out there who is enthusiastic and/or skilled at:

  • Letters asking folks for a bit of money
  • Writing grant applications
  • Organising fundraising events
  • Coming up with good ideas (and acting on them!)

You can get in touch via freedombuildingcollective@gmail.com or via the shop.

How you can pay in

This is the bit where we ask you to put in a few quid to get rid of all the red on our building graphic (hmm maybe we should reverse the colour scheme so you can add red…) Any donation no matter how small helps us get to our target. A handy paypal button is at the top of this page, or you can send a cheque payable to “Freedom Press” to 84b Whitechapel High st, London E1 QX, or call the shop to get details for a direct transfer on (07952) 157-742.

We’ve got a unique resource in central London to bring back to its best, a building that has been in the hands of the anarchist movement for nearly 50 years providing space and support for innumerable libertarian projects and which today provides a home for many important organisations. We hope you can join u in making it ready for the next few decades!

2015: The Bug

In 2015 the Freedom Collective was treading water financially, dependent on book donations and in the longer run publishing new books of its own at low cost. This however marked an improving trend over previous years, as even before the death of former editor, proprietor and leading Collective figure Vernon Richards in 2001 a dependence on legacies from friends and fans of the press had made for an unsustainable long-term position.

In an effort to find its feet and move beyond mere subsistence, the Collective undertook a major re-organisation, splitting the finances so different parts of the operation were semi-independent, and aiming to be self-sufficient, while reporting back to the collective at the monthly meetings. It also, working with other groups within the building, set up the Building Users Group (Bug) to bring about a consensus-led approach to running things, as it was felt an “anarchist landlord” scenario would be against libertarian principles.

The Bug set its own rates at the April AGM, with groups coming to a consensus on reasonable payments bringing in all cash needed for utilities and business rates, plus some extra for contingencies and small works to be done. All groups at Freedom are non-profit, and all work on a shoestring budget, so each group gives what it can afford — essentially practicing a “from each according to their means” approach.

Late in the year, a survey commissioned by members of the Friends of Freedom, a “dormant company” which holds the building in trust for the Collective, found a number of works that needed to be done to secure the building in the long term, which has since provided the focus for the founding of the fundraising group which runs this website.