Spending

This module covers:

  • How to resolve issues in spending too little or too much
  • Revisiting your development plan

Everything you have worked through to this point is ultimately leading up to this – spending your money!

You have identified where you need to spend the money, how you will go about spending it, who will be involved in the process and how much you will be receiving. In this way, once you start receiving the payments, you should be in a strong position to distribute the funds.

There are several different models of managing the funds, but regardless of which you adopt, you will most likely need to assess grant applications individually. Once you start receiving payments and grant applications, you will need to assess and select which projects you wish to support.

Many communities will find that they lie somewhere between the two following situations:

  • Receiving more funds than they have ideas
  • Having too many ideas for the level of funds they receive

However, with the correct process, you should be able to use the same model for both of these scenarios.

Revisitin your development plan1

  • Aims are the changes that you are trying to achieve, e.g. make your area more sustainable
  • Objectives are the methods or the activities by which you plan to achieve your aims, e.g. regular talks, monthly energy efficiency home visits
  • Outcomes are the changes, benefits, learning or other effects that happen as a result of your work. They are often hard to count or prove. e.g. improved local economy, healthier environment, thriving social scene
  • Outputs are the tangible products, services or facilities created by your work, and are usually quantifiable. They focus on what happens once you have finished your work. E.g. numbers attending events after hall refurbishment, number of training sessions run

These indicators should be decided before the project commences spend, so that you can record outputs as you go along – this will be studied more closely in Module - Evaluation.

Spending the right amount on the right projects

Projects will first have to pass through the assessment process, and secondly, selection.

Spending

First you will assess which projects meet your criteria, and which are ineligible. This process should be a set of simple yes/no questions, and at this stage you will be able to rule out some projects.

Next you will need to look at prioritising the projects, using some method of weighting. For example, using the criteria in your development plan, you may wish to draw up a series of simple questions, such as:

  1. Does this project address the aims of the development plan?
  2. Is this project financially self-sustaining?
  3. Will the whole community be able to benefit from this project?

0 = not at all,
1 = slightly,
2 = to some degree,
3 = completely

Most projects which have a negative impact on any of your criteria should be excluded, except in certain circumstances where overriding positive effects compensate for the negative criteria.

Match funding

Having funds available in your community opens a huge number of doors, and often means you can apply for match funding from other external sources. This is a good path if you have a small amount of income from the developer, and some big projects that you are unable to fund.

Sources of match funding could be Big Lottery, LEADER, Climate Challenge Scotland, and many others, depending on your area and the amount of funds you have available.

Innovative approaches

If you are still struggling to think of ideas and cannot spend the money you’re receiving, don’t worry. Check that you can roll funds over from one year to the next, and you may find that in time, you can think of a larger-scale project to fund with the rolled-over funds.

Case study - Fintry

Fintry Windfarm in Stirlingshire negotiated an additional ‘community’ turbine to be added to a 14-turbine commercial development in 2007. The 15 turbines are now operational, and Fintry currently sees an income of between £40-70,000 per annum.

The aims of Fintry Development Trust were developed from Fintry Renewable Energy Enterprise (FREE), to use the income to “reduce energy use in the village - ultimately, making the village a zero-carbon, zero-waste community.”

The first project using the turbine income was to evaluate the energy use of houses in the local area, and to provide free insulation to eligible homes. FREE have since undertaken a variety of innovative projects, including a transport project, and improving the energy efficiency of sports and village halls.

You can find out more about Fintry Development Trust here: http://www.fintrydt.org.uk/

1 Adapted from http://www.communitymatters.org.uk/content/532/What-areoutcomes-and-outputs