The inevitable question always arises: “So how are you funded?”
Answer: I’m not. Or at least not yet. The Tour concept really only developed in September 2010. Interest in the program has expanded so quickly that I can barely keep up with my daily emails, let alone have adequate time to pursue each funding opportunity that comes along.
However, reality is slowly beginning to set in: Yes, I DO need money. One girl with a limited income cannot support an entire health promotion program alone. Thus far I have been fortunate enough to receive a few generous donations through the Paypal button on the website which have propelled me forward and kept my motivation level high. However, more substantial resources will eventually be necessary. How does a start-up organization move forward in a situation such as this?
I’ve considered a few options – a fellowship, creating a nonprofit, or partnering with an existing nonprofit – each with its own benefits and disadvantages. I recently applied for the IATP Food & Society Fellowship and am waiting to hear whether I will advance in the selection proceedings. Cross your fingers for me: with over 500 applicants and only 9 fellowships, the competition is tough. This program would provide a two-year stipend to complete the Tour. A second idea is to create my own nonprofit for The School Food Tour which would qualify me for numerous grant opportunities & tax-exempt donations. Unfortunately this process is costly and time-consuming – two resources that are currently at low levels in my world. The final, and perhaps the most promising option, is to partner with an existing nonprofit. This method would allow me to utilize their 501c3 status to apply for grants for which I am currently ineligible as an individual. The difficulty comes in selecting an organization that both supports the School Food Tour’s mission and also has the time and energy necessary to negotiate a partnership.
Additionally, I need to consider the sourcing of equipment – cycling gear, camping supplies, appropriate clothing and bicycle accessories. I hope to connect with sponsors who operate their companies on philosophies similar to my own – promoting conscious, healthy living through the enjoyment of the outdoors. The Tour is an excellent opportunity for brands to receive substantial exposure to a diverse audience as I pedal across the country.
I think that my dilemma of how to proceed with the Tour highlights the barriers that many young and innovative individuals face as they attempt to break into the social entrepreneurial world. There is no blueprint and not much guidance for those creating a unique initiative from the ground, up.
I have received so many wonderful notes from individuals and organizations all over the country who are eager to become involved. These daily positive responses motivate me to continue refining my ideas so that when I hit the road, the School Food Tour will be a program of the highest caliber. I am reaching out to each of you, my readers, for suggestions on securing financial backing for the Tour. I am seeking your input on potential non-profits to partner with and companies that might be interested in supporting the Tour. Furthermore, spread the word that I have some School Food Tour schwag (e.g. caps, stickers, etc) for donors in the works and each contribution will be recognized on the website. If interested, you can donate using the Paypal button on the Tour’s homepage.
Any insight from those who have gone through this process would be greatly appreciated – thanks heaps in advance for your support!