"Had a great idea and pursued it. "
How I did it:
Firstly this is a community business or not for profit. We will make money of course but it will all go back into the organisation.
Getting started involved talking to people who might be interested in being part of this project. The phone book was helpful. An association needs members so you have to talk about your project to lots of people to give them an opportunity to say they want to be involved. I signed up 20 to my email list and now i've signed up 10 as full members. We need to grow the membership now if we want to achieve the more ambitious objectives of the organisation. I spoke to the local media and got letters and articles about the project published. I also held a couple of petitions but although this enabled me to share the idea with the general public it isn't really necessary or the best way to accumulate local support as funding bodies don't take much notice of petitions apparently.
On the other side, i started talking to community groups and government organisations who might be able to help with their various know how. The local government has been quite helpful in connecting me up with other relevant people who can help. So talk to your local government reps early on. Also government departments give you advice about grants, other legal and official aspects of what you are planning to do.
I talked to local business as well about how they might be able to help. One of them has provided us with a place to start our activities so long as we can get public liability insurance. So this leads on to fundraising. There is a lot of help from businesses in the community for fundraising. I've only just learnt that having a raffle can raise a decent amount of money quite easily and many businesses are willing to offer their products as prizes. And other organisations, such as banks and community groups can have small grants which we've been eligible to apply for.
We eventually incorporated as early as we did because we needed to in order to apply for larger government grants.
Lessons & tips: 1. To become a not for profit in Australia you need to get in touch with the Department of Fair Trading.
2. In order to win grants you should seek letters of support from other community groups because funding bodies want to see that your organisation has the support of the community.
3. Grow your membership because its membership that ultimately influences the funding bodies to give you the money you need.
4. Talk to lots of people who might be able to help you with advice and other forms of support.
5. Sometimes groups who you think would support your idea don't for reasons of their own. Don't be discouraged. There will be plenty of others who will support you and in time those others may come around.
6. Don't be afraid of fund raising. It doesn't seem to be that difficult. If you don't know how to write grant applications, get advice from other organisation, particularly your local government.
I can't think of anything else right now.
Perhaps the main thing to keep in mind is that a lot of time is involved in getting such a thing off the ground so it works well if you don't have too many other obligations or your have a small group of people who can share all the jobs that need doing. Its taken a lot of my time to get this far but as I don't work, i'm very happy to do it all. However now that i have a management committee, and members, i also have other people who can help with some jobs at this next stage of our organisations development.
When i started out, i didn't have a clue about how this would all come together. I just had faith in my idea and went forward from there. I learnt what to do as i went along. I took advice from people who had more experience than me. You have to listen and take the advice of people who are have the experience. You don't have to listen to the opinions of general bystanders although they can often be correct too. So keep an open mind.
Be honest, open and reliable always.
Resources: ourcommunities.com.au - a fundraising website for not for profits.
department of fair trading
any organisation who might be doing similar things to you.
local council website for grants funding.
look at all funding opportunities. research and understand their limitations. Council grants do not fund public liability insurance and i only found that out by accident quite late in the day which sent me on a different track. But a good one.