CRAOL recognises that every community radio project is different – dependent on your stations focus and location different funding opportunities are available. The CRAOL helpline (firstname.lastname@example.org) can advise paid-up members on funding sources appropriate to their station.
Below are some important sources of funding for groups to explore in the set up stage. (see also Funding Section)
(1) Community based fundraising
There is invariably great goodwill towards community stations with people and local businesses often willing to make a significant once off contribution in the set up stage. In recent years one station raised 70K prior to going on air from open draws, car boot sales, quizzes etc. Another station regularly raises 75K+ each year from a large catchment area having been on air 5 years. However the average raised by stations is much lower at around 20K per annum. Community based fundraising is more difficult in urban areas. In order to make community fundraising a success, it needs a broad base of volunteers. Make the knowledge that the station needs everyones contribution to fundraising a part of any volunteer induction and try to raise money for specific things - a transmitter etc.
(2) LEADER funding for capital expenditure
The LEADER programme is administered by Local Development Companies in every county in Ireland. There is funding (up to 75%) available for capital investment by community organisations, plus grants for feasibility studies, marketing, and training. Several aspirant groups and newly licenced stations provide good case studies of how LEADER support has made a difference to community radio projects in their early stages. As LEADER companies wish to ensure that projects they fund have a long-term future, factors like being properly constituted (see the CRAOL Aspirant Handbook and the CRAOL Development Ladder), community fundraising used to source equipment for the first one-year licence on a shoestring, and an approved application for a second one-year licence, can all help make your group present itself as sustainable and solid.
Local Development companies can be a good source of other assistance also (mentoring etc). Aspirant Groups can suggest to their Local Development Companies to ring the CRAOL Helpline to discuss how support can be put in place to maximise impact on both the project and the wider community.
(3) Development levy/County Council
Any development, commercial or residential in the past few years has had a development levy placed on it. This levy goes into a fund which is administered by county councils to support the development of infrastructure of benefit to the community. Generally the fund is managed by the Community and Enterprise Section of the Co. Council who can either be approached directly or via councillors. Some councils have a formal application process. The monies can only be used for capital investment (studios, transmitters etc). Where budgets are tight, some stations have been successful in getting funding spread over 2 years but in quick sucession e.g 15K in Nov and 15K in January.
(4) Community Services Programme
Following lobbying by CRAOL, Community Media was designated a fundable activity of the Community Services Programme of the Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht affairs. This funding is administered by POBAL. A number of aspirant stations and 60% of fully licenced stations have received core funding under the Programme for staff. However, the accession of new participants to the scheme overall has been halted for the time being. Therefore it is expected that no more Expressions of Interest will be invited in the foreseeable future. Existing projects are expected to retain funding. Keep an eye on www.craol.ie for any changes to this situation.
Please also note that the overall funding situation is in considerable flux given the economic downturn.