Hello - I'm new here, but my husband and I have always had self-sustaining goals/dreams. Well, a piece of property has come up for sale and we've decided it's time to raise funds for a non-profit self-sustaining ranch for families who are homeless or nearly homeless (unemployed, underemployed, etc). The vision includes subsistence farming, animals for milk, eggs and meat,an education center so families can homeschool their children (it's a quite rural location and the surrounding schools are bad), and a work/technology center so community members can work towards a GED or online college degree, and so as a community we can produce products to sell online and at markets to help our community buy things we can't grow or make. (Upcycled furniture, hand made soaps, knit/crochet items, handmade jewelry, etc). There's a lot of details to be thought through, and a lot that may change because we're very new to the process. I'd love to hear some resources, perspectives, ideas, etc.
Oh - the families that are accepted into this community will be more of at-risk families, not ones that struggle with addiction or mental illness. I'm not aiming to make a 'recovery' ranch - more of a 'second chance' kind of ranch, if that makes sense.
So...anyone care to dream and plan with me? Again, I'm new...be gentle... lol
Check out Indiegogo and GoFundMe for crowdfunding options (I don't suggest kickstarter for this, I think GoFundMe is ongoing so ideal). Making a facebook and blog and twitter, if you haven't already, are good ideas as well. Getting word out will help you find people who can help as well as help you with funding. Tumblr's not bad for getting publicity- but it can be negative publicity much more easily as well. Blogspot and wordpress are good free options. They can help you find more knowledgeable people for advice as well. You can apply for grants and loans as well, but this seems like the sort of thing that crowdfunder types would love as well.
Ask for more than you think you need when applying for grants (and possibly loans, but be careful)- first, because sometimes places will automatically ask you to drop how much you need, so this will give you flexibility in negotiation. Second, because you never know when hiccups and such will come up. If you get more than you need, you can put it towards other things (upgrading equipment or something).
Get in touch with local homeless shelters and volunteer places and farms (or non-local ones, if there aren't any local ones), they'll likely have good information and it'd be good to network with them. With farmers and the like, you'll also probably want to have people who can buy or trade any surplus you have. You'll need to figure out what permits and such you'll need, especially if you have kids there- the rules are a lot stricter whenever kids are involved. You'll likely need to offer a daycare, even if it's a very unofficial co-op style one, and need to find out what you need to do to do this. This seems like it may be tricky legally- definitely find a lawyer who has familiarity with this sort of thing. You'll also probably need an accountant unless one of you is just awesome at tax law. Reach out to homeless people and find out what they need. If you've never been homeless, it's easy to have an ideal- you need to talk to people who are living or have lived the reality.
Figure out what the bare minimum staff you'll need is and have plans for expansion. This is another place that talking to established shelters and farms will help you.
Once this is a reality, consider having a scholarship fund people can donate into to help cover schooling costs for people living there.
I serve as a board of director of a foundation and work directly with two other foundations. I'll give you some advice on what you will encounter when you get to the point of applying for grants.
The first thing any foundation will want to see is that you have 501(c) 3 status. This take a while so you should start of getting this first thing. I am working with an upstart youth program right now and they found a lawyer to do it for free. I was told it would typically cost a couple of thousand dollars to hire an attorney to do it. You might want to investigate the process and if you do crowdfunding, put it out there as a wish list item. People seem to like to attach their contribtuions to something concrete.
The foundations I work with (and the one where I serve on the board) will not fund general operations. Grant requests need to be specific, such as "to provide educational materials for the reading program for 2015." And yes, the grants are typically less than the amount requested so aim high.
Here is something similar you could take ideas from: http://bitcoinmagazine.com/6939/seans-outpost-announces-satoshi-forest/
I recommend looking into accepting bitcoins for donations as well.
May God bless you and His Blessed Mother Mary keep you! :-)
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