I’m very happy to finally announce that the UK Hackspace Foundation has received a $300,000 donation from Handshake - this is around £225,000 at current exchange rates.
I’d like to emphasise that this donation is completely unrestricted and comes with no publicity or reporting requirements.
This money will allow us to provide grants and potentially loans to hackspaces around the UK, as well as securing the operation of the Foundation for the foreseeable future.
We will not be spending any of this money (aside from covering the current, extremely minimal, operational costs) until we have accepted a reasonable number of members and have appointed a committee to distribute grants.
I will also write up a short proposal for how we should manage and distribute this money in the next few weeks, on which comments will be welcome.
If anyone has questions or ideas about how we should use this money, do fire away - but remember that we’re very unlikely to receive a donation this large again so we’d like to make this last and benefit as many people as possible.
Spend some money promoting the Foundation, and thus all of its member Hackspaces?
Perhaps through some advertising and media exposure that individual spaces lack the skills, contacts, or money to achieve themselves.
I’d love to see some of this grant go towards helping hackspaces become more accessible to groups of people who are currently underrepresented in our community. This will have a great longterm impact (since engaging a wider demographic will help to make hackspaces more sustainable), and will help to spread the hackspace awesomeness even wider
My suggestion would be an Edinburgh-sized (1200 x 900mm) laser cutter for every Hackspace that ‘needs’ one. I suspect we’re not the only space where the laser cutter is one of the top attractions for new members.
I’d rather see it as a fund for a startup kit, maybe working with some companies like RS, Rapid, Farnell to get the funding to go further by having in kind donations of tools as well, to make a Hackspace start up bundle or something?
But also keeping the organisation funded is important.
I think a recurring posting the map in the Hackspace magazine could be a good idea.
Loads of tools or one laser cutter? Difficult to choose!
Helping smaller spaces that have a good growth pattern with a loan for the first few months of rent would be good, but after saying it sounds like a very labor intensive work for volunteers to manage by committee.
Travel expenses for a get together of reps of Hackspace foundation to take it forwards.
In terms of suggestions one that jumps out to me is perhaps loans towards sustainability:-
I think it could be useful (And provide legacy) for a funding body (UK Hackspace Foundation perhaps) to run a “Sustainable Hackspaces” loan fund. With an objective of maybe making match funded loans available to cover the deposit of an established hackspace that wanted to buy land/heritage buildings for themselves. Rental is so un-sustainably expensive and is dead money. We are finding this in our search for more space to bring on metal working space. Buying is more cost effective both in terms of monthly payments and long term investment. Once a mortgage is paid off the running costs (Bottom Line) of the Hackspace falls to something trivial, and the Hackspace is an appreciating asset.
It would be nice if the UK Hackspace Foundation could pull of a package like this with a mortgage lender including a matchfund loan to cover the 20% needed to secure the deal. The benefit of running this on a loan basis is the repayments make this an appreciating fund so that it can help out more Hacksapces over time than a grant system would.
Might also be worth looking at some of the Co-operative lenders too for this.
Excellent idea, but are there many hackspaces that are going to commit to the number of years of planning applications and/or physically building a space that would be required?
A broader remit that allowed the Hackspace Foundation to buy the property and rent it back to the Hackspace concerned might work, while still providing the revenue for long-term benefit to the Foundation.
One obvious problem would be that this would only cover the cost of a few properties in the short-term. But long-term it could work well, East Street Arts-style.
We could certainly could do with a little funding to get everybody at Makers Central, pay for merchandising material etc! This massively promotes hackerspaces and makerspaces so I feel definitely worth a bit of money if its available.
This is brilliant! And great suggestions from everyone already.
Would definitely support sponsored/subsidised kit (Especially Laser Cutter, we still haven’t gotten around to one after 7 years in Farset Labs because we’ve been shoe-stringing it all these years).
Also support sustainability loans; we’ve an opportunity to get the unit above us which is very daunting from a cashflow perspective but if it works would secure our place in the Belfast/NI tech ecosystem for many years to come!
Just an update to say that we have finished the currency conversion and the total amount received was £230,728.12 net of fees - the exchange rate was averaged over three transfers approximately one week apart.
The bulk of the money is being moved to a 95-day notice savings account paying (currently) 1.6% interest.
It’s superb news. As I said in a tweet when you first announced it, we at LHS need funds to provide disabled access. We were forced to move from somewhere that did have access by a doubling of rent. We are now in a first floor old mill-type property. The problem with normal charities is that being a rented property, the ‘improvements’ benefit the landlord, so they are not too keen. I saw access mentioned above so others may be thinking along the same lines. Am also happy to get suggestions of other ways to raise the sort of money we need - of order £12000 - £15000 to provide an external inclined stair lift wheelchair platform.