Project Planning & Resourcing toolkit

toolkit imageThis guide to resourcing your empty space project in NSW was adapted by Nathan Wiltshire from the ‘Create Innovate Gosford City Resourcing Toolkit’ developed in 2011 by Amir Imami, Allan Laurie, Markus Mueller, Maneesh Rajagopalachar, Fiona Tschaut and Nathan Wiltshire from the Management Consulting class in the Masters of Business Program, Faculty of Business, University of Technology, Sydney, for the Create Innovate Gosford City project by Gosford Business Improvement District.

Here, the Gosford content has been remodelled for generic application to projects in NSW; but may also be helpful for projects located elsewhere.

The work was supervised by Dr Natalia Nikolova, UTS Faculty of Business, Lisa Andersen, UTS Shopfront Community Program, and the then-Manager of Create Innovate Gosford City, Deborah Lowndes.  Thanks also to Paul Brasch, Manager at Gosford Business Improvement District, and the Steering Committee of Create Innovate Gosford Ciy.

Disclaimer: All information in this section was correct at the time of finalising in March 2012. Content was provided from third party sources and, while every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Shopfront cannot guarantee accuracy.


The best way to make a difference in the world is to start by making a difference in your own life. To achieve real impact in your chosen field it is imperative that your project has adequate resources to remain viable in the medium to long term. This translates into dollars and cents as well as in terms of person-hours and expertise.    

The well established pathway to sustainability is developing an embryonic organisation that relies on charitable funding and government grants for financial resources and the unpaid assistance of volunteers for most human resourcing. However obtaining the desired level of financial and talent resourcing and creating a low or no-cost human resourcing model are significant challenges for Empty Space projects.

In addition, cultural funding allocations in Australia are becoming more difficult to win because of increased competition. The advent of ongoing economic fragility and global turmoil underline the very real dangers in over-reliance on singular funding sources.

This Project Resourcing Toolkit contains a number of resourcing frameworks to be considered by new or existing Empty Space projects before selectively pursuing resourcing options that may suit your project’s specific characteristics. Ultimately you should aim to diversify funding sources with options in commercialisation of your products and/or services, community funding, and government grants.

However, before you can get cracking tracking down much needed dollars, you should first understand and articulate your organisation’s requirements - dealt with in the first section 'Knowing your resourcing needs'.

Knowing your resourcing needs

Before you can get stuck into developing funding streams and securing the right human resources for your Empty Space project, it is crucial to understand exactly what your needs are.  This section addresses strategic planning, organisational structure and business modelling.

Set a strategic direction

Strategic planning should be the starting point and foundation for Empty Space projects.  Strategy refers to the fundamentals of who and what your organisation strives to be. Strategic planning is creating the framework to focus the organisation towards desired outcomes – your raison d’être – and to create a clear path towards sustainability.

The case for strategic planning has been laid out by economic turmoil in recent years. Non-profit community organisations are by their nature dependant on external funding sources for survival. Even more so without a self-sustaining, revenue generating business model. This creates an operating environment that can quickly turn against the organisation, as witnessed during recession and during times of government spending cut-backs. This situation provides greater impetus to maximise all potential funding opportunities. Furthermore, the issues and communities that Empty Space projects serve are not static. This means it is critical that your organisation is built on a solid funding foundation that is dynamic and regularly evolving.

Creating a clear road map for the future with strategic planning can help your organisation achieve better, more sustainable outcomes and motivate all stakeholders towards your desired future vision.

A strategic planning framework

Ongoing sustainability in non-profit community organisations is closely linked to formally engaging in strategic planning once or twice a year, depending on your organisation’s capacity and needs. A basic strategic planning framework includes:

1. Who we are

  • How do we view ourselves as an organisation?
  • How do our customers and partners within the community view us?
  • Assessment of previous activity; what worked, what didn’t work.  

2. What we want to be

  • Create or re-think your organisation’s vision and mission. Your vision contains broad long-term aspirations, it should inspire people to engage with your project. Meanwhile, the mission should focus on how you plan to go about achieving the vision in the medium term.
  • Re-state your key value proposition. When someone asks – “What is your project?” this proposition should summarise the essence of what makes your organisation unique. What is it that makes partners, customers and the community excited about your project?

3. What we do

  • Create a list of strategic objectives for the coming year. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable within a set timeframe, and relevant to your vision and mission.
  • Make sure your objectives can be broken down into specific tasks and activities, thereby creating a to-do list. 

4. What we want to achieve

  • The creation of specific, realistic and achievable key performance indicators (KPIs) are needed to drive you towards achieving your strategic objectives. This not only provides clear targets to strive towards, it also allows you to assess your performance retrospectively during the next strategic planning session. With this information you can best adapt your activities for greater success.
  • Assign KPIs to your project generally, then break some down into KPIs for the key individuals involved with the project. Use the outcomes as part of an annual or semi-annual performance appraisal. 

5. How we get there

  • Use strategic planning tools to assist in developing a financial budget and human resourcing requirements plan to achieve your aims.
  • Strategic partnerships; engage those who can help best achieve your aims.
  • Marketing and public relations strategy; create a plan for externalising your activities and connecting with target markets. 
  • What others are doing; e.g. fellow Empty Space projects and unrelated non-profit and commercial projects. Borrow from their lessons that can be adapted.
  • Create a timeline for key activities and milestones. Keep a schedule and stick to it. 

6. Sell your plan

  • Create a story that will engage your key stakeholders, allowing them to visualise the future. Focus on key outputs from the planning process, not the entire framework.
  • Tell them how they can help you achieve your objectives with calls to action.  

7. Regular tracking

With two strategic planning sessions each year, the progress of the organisation can be adjusted to ensure you achieve your goals. Between planning sessions, meetings will track progress. Apart from maintaining strategic direction, this process can build energy and cohesion within the organisation, along with generating ideas. 

8. Learn from experts

Strategic planning can seem a little overwhelming for the uninitiated so it is recommended you seek the pro-bonon assistance of an experienced strategy consultant to facilitate the above planning steps. If expert assistance is not available, the following books may be helpful:




Operating as an Incorporated Association

In setting up and running your project there are a number of organisational structures that lend themselves to specific legal structures. (Examples from Renew Newcastle are discussed here.)

For non-profit Empty Space projects, an 'incorporated association' may be a suitable NSW legal structure that allows opportunities for program offering and funding diversification. 

Before we look at the advantages of an incorporated association structure, a word of caution. When setting up as an incorporated association in a particular State or Territory your organisation can only operate in that jurisdiction. To expand beyond your home State or Territory requires registration under the Corporations Act at some ongoing expense. Nonetheless, Associated Incorporation will probably suit the majority of Empty Space projects that focus on specific precincts, suburbs or cities and there is a provision for an incorporated association to become registered under the Corporations Act so it can carry on business in other states or territories outside of its home jurisdiction without needing to register as a company.

Before starting your Empty Space project speak to an accountant who can take care of the documentation and processing. 

More information:

NSW Department of Fair Trading:

  • Business structures factsheets outline the most common business structures in NSW 
  • Cooperatives and associations factsheets provide details of structural requirements for incorporated associations under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act 2009.

'Business Structures and Governance: A Practical Guide for the Arts' book from the Arts Law Centre of Australia.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission's Registering not-for-profit or Charitable Organisations information sheet has advice on the differences between a company structure and an incorporated association.

A cheap website for processing your company structure is eCompanies. Otherwise, your accountant can make this arrangement on your behalf.

The main advantages of formalising your Empty Spaces organisation under the Associations Incorporation Act include:

Separate Legal Entity

 An incorporated association is a separate legal entity to its members, giving it a number of capabilities:

  • Liability is limited, provided management committee members follow accepted business and community standards;
  • The association has the capacity to enter into and enforce contracts, including generally the power to hold, acquire and deal with property in its own name;
  • The association can receive funds in its own right; and
  • The association can have perpetual succession - it continues regardless of changes in its membership.

Lower Administrative Costs

An incorporated association provides most of the benefits of being a company but at a lower cost.  Administrative costs of establishing an Incorporated Association are lower compared to incorporation under the Corporations Act 2001 as the structure is more simple and straightforward. However, there are some costs involved in ongoing reporting obligations.

Input from a lawyer may not be necessary to set up an Association, but they are likely to be able to identify avenues specific to your strategic plan. We recommend you seek assistance on a pro-bono basis from someone who specialises in these structures.

Lower Duties and Reporting Requirements

Generally the duties and reporting requirements imposed on incorporated associations are less onerous than for a company. However, as is the case under the Corporations Act 2001, persons vested with the management of affairs of an incorporated association will have certain duties and obligations. Disclosure and governance requirements of incorporated associations include:

  • holding annual general meetings
  • keeping accounting records
  • preparing a statement of accounts
  • auditing (which becomes more onerous as the gross receipts of the association increase)
  • lodging annual returns

Donor Tax Deduction

This will also allow you to take one further step and set yourself with a tax deductible gift status.  This status can achieved in the short-term by signing with the Register of Cultural Organisations which assists qualifying cultural bodies to attract support by enabling them to offer donors the incentive of a tax deduction. The Register aims to strengthen private sector support for the arts.

Business model analysis

Understanding the strategic direction of your organisation and the organisational structure with legal set-up is the basis for the high-level view of your Empty Spaces project. The next step is to develop and analyse the functioning of each aspect of your operation, along with the interrelationships between each function. This is commonly referred to as a business model. The need for understanding your business model exists whether you intend on running a for-profit or a not-for-profit organisation.

In relation to resourcing, business model analysis will help you gain an in-depth understanding of your organisation on a macro-level, identify key activities undertaken on a regular basis that form the core of what you do, and enable you to identify specific resourcing requirements.

To map and analyse your business model a helpful tool is the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Developed by Osterwalder and Pigneur in their work “Business Model Generation”,  a BMC is useful for visualising any Empty Space business model. It uses nine basic building blocks that depict the logic of how organisations function.

Business Model Canvas

  • Customer segments
  • Value propositions
  • Distribution channels
  • Customer relationships
  • Revenue streams
  • Key resources
  • Key activities
  • Key partnerships
  • Cost structure










Directional arrows highlight relationships and general activity flows between the different functions. Listing these functions and flows will give a clearer picture of the time and money required to make it happen, laying the foundation for knowing your resourcing needs now and in the future. 

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Resourcing forecasting should be designed with creative projects at its heart. This allows the user to input data to create a resourcing plan depending changing needs. With the fundamental aim of ensuring your Empty Spaces project has the money and people it needs, when you need them. It is recommended that Empty Spaces attempt to forecast number of projects and timing, human resourcing requirements in specific roles and person-hours, delivering a resourcing forecast for individual month periods.

The structure, activities and data that goes into a forecasting model are the building blocks that will make or break the task. The assumptions that form the background workings of any forecasting must be based on detailed and logical frameworks, avoid baseless assumptions and hunches. Generally Microsoft Office is perfectly suited for creating a forecasting model. Some suggested considerations, including some practical tips that can be adapted for the specific circumstances of your Empty Spaces project include:

Business model framework

A detailed understanding of your organisation’s resourcing requirements should be the foundation of any forecasting model. Analysis based on the Business Model Canvas technique can be used to identify and isolate the activities and interactions critical to the operation of the organisation.  

Groupings of tasks

With key activities identified, these were filtered into tasks that remain fixed regardless of the intensity of activity and those that are variable depending on the number of projects at any given time. Fixed activities tend to be operating overheads such as administration and marketing. While variable activities are generally those that can be directly attributed to individual creative projects and grow in line with the growth of the scope of your Empty Spaces organisation.


The importance of generating data from well thought out, rigorous processes cannot be understated. Whenever in doubt consider, if a key stakeholder requests an explanation of the forecasted funding requirements, can we satisfy those questions? Suggested methods of obtaining usable data include, reflective estimations based on the actual operating environment, also empirical studies of a week’s operation is another strong method. An average of these two methods (if significant difference is shown) can provided added rigor.

Human resourcing

The talent, passion and skills of the team assembled for your Empty Space project are the most crucial ingredients in making your project a success. The reality of most projects, especially during the start-up phase, is that this must be achieved with limited cash outflow. Particularly in an economic climate of on-going instability and uncertainty, a no-cost human resourcing strategy is recommended. There are a number of ways you can acquire these skills for your project.

Human capital structure

Advisory board

Recruiting needed skills, contacts, resources and expertise starts with developing an advisory board for your organisation. This should be a volunteer, skills-based board that incorporates leaders from creative industry, relevant corporate fields and government. (Read about how Create Innovate Gosford City set up their Steering Committee to start-up their project here.)

An effective board member is not just about affluence or industry clout alone, but rather actively demonstrates wisdom, integrity and commitment to the goals and values of your organisation. 

Research has shown significant correlation between the presence of a board and organisational effectiveness, and the board activities most strongly correlated with organisational effectiveness are

  • policy formation,
  • strategic planning,
  • program monitoring,
  • financial planning and control,
  • resource development,
  • board development,
  • and dispute resolution.

The Australian Treasury suggests that limiting a board’s size leads to improved performance. The optimal size of an Advisory Board that covers all key needs is likely to contain five or six members. 

More information:

Our Community's factsheets on Boards, Committees and Governance.

Board Connect provides factsheets, advice and support for the boards of non-profit organisations. 

'On Board: Serving on the Board of an Arts Organisation': written by David Fishel and published by the Australia Council, this is a guide to the basics of governance for arts organisations

Corporate employee engagement programs

Another great way to get access to experienced knowhow is to tap into corporate pro-bono support initiatives.

At the early planning stage of your Empty Space project you are probably focusing on the soft requirements of your start-up such as relationships, creative possibilities and branding. However, to be sustainable in the medium to longer term there are a whole host of other key technical areas that are traditionally associated with the corporate world. Over time you may need metrics to measure effectiveness, strategic and financial planning, mergers, pricing, communications, market research, human resources, information technology and facilities planning.

A number of professional services firms, for example PriceWaterhouseCooper, Ernst & Young and Deloitte, run employee engagement programs that can provide new expertise and ideas, while reducing costs for some of your crucial technical requirements. The expertise gained can galvanise informal knowledge to enable the greatest possible impact for your Empty Space project. All thanks to the growth of corporate social responsibility activities in employee engagement strategies.

The lowest cost way of obtaining this expertise is with skill-based volunteering programs. Not only does your project receive valuable input by experienced professionals but there may be cross-branding opportunities with your corporate partner.

Research by the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs, shows that seventy-two percent of Australian companies have ‘increased employee morale, engagement and teamwork’ as one of their key corporate responsibility goals. The key is to provide project-based engagement opportunities with defined boundaries, outcomes and timelines. This way everyone can be sure the desired outcomes are achieved.

Again, a word of caution comes with the old adage that nothing in this world is completely free. Engagement of volunteers requires time, planning and managing. There are many examples of community organisations that were not adequately prepared for corporate volunteers, who then became frustrated at the lack of meaningful tasks within their volunteer placement. So your project should understand the development outcomes sought by the corporate partner and ensure that there is a process in place that matches the volunteering experience to the skills of those volunteering.

More information:

Australian Business Arts Foundation's adviceBank and boardBank connect cultural organisations to corporate expertise.

Internships and volunteers

As with any project in the early stages of starting up, the ability of the founders to secure human resources at minimal cost can make all the difference. Empty Space projects are in the ideal position to make the most of internship structures and volunteer recruitment organisations to provide the general person-power required to set-up and operate programs.  Consider:

  • Volunteering networks
  • Formal university internship and experiential learning departments
  • Vocational education institutes, such as TAFEs

Note of caution: interns and volunteers are usually inexperienced and need support and resourcing - which equals your time - and there are no guaranteed quality outcomes for your project. Remember to interview and select wisely based on their skills sets to do the job, the time they have available for your project and the time you have available to support their work.

More Information:

Volunteering Australia's resources for volunteer managers

Experts in Volunterring (UK) has a list of resources that include recruitment, induction, support and reward for volunteers.

Third Sector's Ulimate Guide to CRMs (US) ebooklet examines the tools available for customer relationship management of members, donors and other stakeholders (free).

National Service Resoure Centre (US) has resouces on Volunteer, Member and Staff Management (US) has a huge list of resources on volunteer and intern management

Financial resourcing

Traditionally community projects have relied on a relatively narrow array of funding sources centred on government grants. While government, particularly local government, is likely to remain a key financial supporter of Empty Space projects, coordinators should consider opportunities diversifying funding and income sources as a way of de-risking ongoing sutainability. This section deals with community funding, government funding and corporate partnerships. 

Government funding

There are a number of opportunities for Empty Space projects to receive start-up and, to a lesser extent, ongoing funding from local, state and federal government sources. However, in recent years the competition for government funding has intensified. This translates to a riskier strategy if focussed on in isolation for financial sustainability. This section looks at tactics that can be used to maximise your chance of securing an all-important grant.

Government agencies are looking for thoroughly-researched, highly strategic project proposals that are the result of strong local engagement.

At a federal government level, proposals should offer integrated solutions across all three levels of government, health providers, universities, NGOs and the private sector. Currently, some questions these federal agencies are seeking answers to when distributing funding are:

  • How will your local knowledge and expertise gained from the investment be drawn up to a state and national platform?
  • What is the precise nature of the challenge/s individual communities are facing?
  • How does your project identify  and address local skills shortages and specific drivers of growth that align with state and national goals?
  • What evidence is there that your project will act for the interests of both families and businesses in your community?

Potential government grant sources for Empty Space projects in NSW include:

Commonwealth Department of Human Services Open Grants

Arts NSW – Quick Response Grants

Regional Arts NSW - Regional arts fund

Volunteer Grants 2011 - Commonwealth Program

Australian Council for the Arts – Projects in Community Partnerships

Festival Australia – Commonwealth Initiative

Arts NSW  - National Creative Education Partnerships program - Artists in Schools

Enterprise Connect

Commonwealth Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism – TQUAL Grants

The Enterprise Network for Young Australians (ENYA) - Microenterprise Loan

More information

The Easy Grants Newsletter and Database - which has a scaled, annual subscription fee - is a good source for regularly updated information on state, federal and philanthropic grants available.


Strategic government outreach

Developing strong relationships with government representatives is important for more than just funding. A government outreach program can seek amendments to the legislation that are barriers to the success of your Empty Space project, particularly if there is a move to alternative program streams.

A list of government targets for lobbying in NSW would include:

Federal Government Department




Treasury Ministers

General enquiries: +61 2 6263 2111 or email

Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities 

SEWPC Minister

General enquiries: +61 2 6274 1111 or email form

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

FaHCSIA Ministers

General enquiries: 1300 653 227 or email

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 

DEEWR Ministers

General enquiries: 1300 363 079 or email form

Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport


General enquiries: +61 2 6274 7977 or email

NSW Government Department


Department of Premier and Cabinet

Home page

General enquiries: 02 9228 55555 or email

Department of Trade and Investment


General enquiries:  02 9338 6600

Lobbying government

Key to the success of any approach to Government is utilising the right lobbying technique. Here is a simple guide to government lobbying for Empty Spaces.

A staged value proposition needs to be crafted before an approach is made. Firstly, successful government lobbying is to keep the strategy, the solution and the ongoing dialogue out of the media and the public eye. Secondly at all times you strategically control the dialogue in play. Thirdly, reach out to every single stakeholder and achieve buy-in. Finally lead the stakeholders to the solution with complete co-creation so that all parties receive shared value, for your government partner this will be positive public accolades.

  1. Connect with State and Federal Members. An initial strategy would be to present your idea to the relevant government funding agency - eg, Arts NSW - and also to your local Councillor and State and Federal Member of Parliament to gain their support. Then partner with them to raise the issue with relevant Minister or in parliament (on both sides of the legislative floor).
  2. Develop relationships with key policy enablers. At Commonwealth level you wlll need to connect with the Minister responsible for the relevant portfolios to garner their interest while also raising the issue at a policy level with the bureaucrats. Alongside, build rapport with the relevant Ministers' Chiefs of Staff, policy officers and Personal Assistants - as they are key enablers (and also key barriers).
  3. Maximise media for shared value. You will need to develop a good relationship the local media and other relevant media outlets. Your Empty Space project should seek to drive story development by essentially providing editorial content on any key activities or lobbying aims.
  4. Problems must equal solutions. It is critical whenever an issue or idea is raised, a well structured solution is also placed on the table at the same time.

More information on government lobbying can be found through the Independent Sector website, the Australian Education Union website and the publication “Citizens in Action” by Stephanie Vance. 

Writing a funding proposal

While government can be a great source of funding for Empty Space projects, it can be resource consuming fulfilling application requirements. Therefore it is important to get it right by delivering a clear value proposition and convince your audience with a well prepared and tailored message.

developing a proposal

1. Selling your value proposition

Decision makers behind government grant distribution will assess your application based on the fundamental value proposition that your Empty Space project offers the community. In your application, focus on these core outcomes. Points to consider include:

  • Community empowerment and social outcomes
  • Economic and regional development outcomes
  • Engagement opportunities
  • Relationship management
  • Geographical market reach
  • Value for money
  • Wholesome attractiveness of the emerging local creative industries
  • Passion and loyalty of audience

2. Application preparation

The quality of the preparation of your funding application should be immediately evident to anyone assessing. Understanding what you are applying for, the outcomes they seek and what matters most is key to delivering a tailored message. Points to consider include:

  • Desk research to understand the potential business
  • Investigate strength of synergies and identify brand alignment
  • Articulated social and 'public good' outcomes 
  • Assess ability to engage community, staff, clients and other key audiences
  • Map key messages
  • Gather information about the organisation’s decision-making processes

It is usually worthwhile to Initiate a 'discovery meeting' with potential funders before beginning the application process to see if your proposal fits will with their strategic and public policy outcomes.

3. The pitch/application

You can never spend too much time perfecting your written application and preparing for your verbal pitch. The more preparation beforehand the better to help you deliver a message and increase your chance of securing funding. Points to consider include:

  • Incorporate results of any prior conversation or discovery meeting
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the potential funding agency and their policy objectives
  • Articulate alignment of brand, vision, values and reach 
  • Communicate specific synergies and key shared objectives
  • Emphasise the strength of your project's connections within the local community

Regional development funds

With Empty Space projects expanding into regional Australia, there is an opportunity to access funds through the Australian Federal Government’s regional development strategy.

The Commonwealth’s Budget of 2011 contained over $4.3 billion for regional development, including: 

  • A $558 million National Workforce Development Fund - which will ensure training investment is industry-led and addresses the needs of regional areas.
  • $916 million for the first projects under the Regional Infrastructure Fund.
  • Extending the Priority Employment Area Strategy - allowing Local Employment Coordinators to continue their work in areas 'doing it tough'.
  • And an extra $20.3 million for Regional Development Agencies.

Any proposal submitted might consider some focus points of current political discourse:

  • Creative industry clusters would begin incubating the cultural potential of Australian regions;
  • Partnerships developed with education providers, could involve on-site access to your Empty Space facilities for vocational and distant education programs (which meets the government policy of improving the skills of the Australian workforce, particularly those in disadvantaged situations or on welfare);
  • Partnerships developed with Centrelink, Work Cover NSW, and Community Health and Wellbeing departments, could assist people in the community  to return to the workforce and recover from illness and injury;
  • Business incubation through provision of tailored mentorship programs;
  • Business innovation and networking hubs. This would be achieved by creating industry pods for sole traders or small business that take the form of office space with businesses support facilities attached;
  • Creating community activity (and programs) aimed at a range of different demographics (Ageing, Young Mothers, Young People etc) within your local region to improve social wellbeing;
  • Linking into Commonwealth immigration attraction and growth strategies;
  • Aligning with Infrastructure development programs in place to foster new industries within the region. 

Community funding

The power of the crowd is a major trend that has emerged thanks to the rise of internet-based online fund-sourcing combined with offline community building. A community funding model is supported by a stakeholder engagement strategy to enhance the cultivation of long-term philanthropic relationships between your Empty Space project and the communities in which you operate. 

Empty Space projects could tap into the crowd funding trend developing in creative communities; obtaining small sums in support from large numbers of individuals. For one-off supporter payments you may seek to utilise one of the many online crowd funding platforms such as PozibleStart Some GoodIndigogoKickstarter or Spacehive.

Additional administration will be required for on-going subscription-style support and you will need to be very clear on what the money will be used for, then follow through and be transparent on showing how it is used. In fact, communicating and showing how their money was used is a great way to deepen relationships with your supporters.

Heartfelt Connector model

One community funding model is the Heartfelt Connector, a framework adapted from “Ten Nonprofit Funding Models” by Foster, Kim & Christiansen. This program seeks to engage with individual donors by reaching out to local resident groups relevant to your project and seeking connection on personal and emotional levels by sending key messages on the social outcomes your project aims to achieve. Key messages might include:

  • Rejuvenation of listless precincts with new activity and vibrancy
  • Incubation of a local creative sector and creative community activity
  • Benefits of increased employment opportunities, skill development and recreation for locals
  • Advancing cultural, social and economic outcomes
  • Changing negative perceptions of an urban precinct

The levels of funding proposed and associated supporter benefits may include:

  • Empty Spaces Army $25 contribution – Supporters will receive one invitation to an exclusive pre-opening;
  • Empty Spaces Innovators $100 contribution – Innovators will receive one invitation to an exclusive pre-opening and name listed on a supporters website page;
  • Empty Spaces Action Heroes $250 contribution – Action Heroes will receive exposure on-site at your Empty Space project, two invitations to exclusive pre-openings showing and special mention on a supporters website page.

The sums and supporter benefits are indicative only, this framwork, of course, works works best when adapted for your specific project. Some of any initial funds raised should be invested in developing a series of networking events to showcase the local initiatives to penetrate further into your local community.

Beneficiary Builder 

This dimension focuses on developing your long-term relationships with the Empty Space Users. The relationship established between an Empty Space project and the artist/community users will assist in leveraging funding. In the long-term, the local creative enterprises, once established, may seek to return the support that was provided for them during start-up.

Your messages to artists should emphasise loyalty and benefits - career and brand development the project has provided. While this group is only ever likely to contribute small monetary donations, their contributions of time, expertise and personal networks will be essential for sustaining your project.

Empty Space Angels

Most Empty Space projects seek to address various social and community needs which adversely affect local residents and often drive negative perceptions of their precinct, suburb or city. With these strong community-building ambitions, it is important to enlist the support of local identities such as celebrities, business people and high net worth individuals. These people are potential 'Angel Investors'. Empty Space initiatives can engage Angels with the concept of creative activities as an innovative approach for addressing social and community needs facing their locality.

Such a strategy starts with using existing networks to facilitate connections to potential Angles. Suggested initial points of contact may include Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce and Business award recipients. In addition, relationships should be sought with Artsupport Australia, Australian Business Arts Foundation and Philanthropy Australia.

A word of caution, potential Angels are unlikely to be won over easily. As with the creation of any long-term relationship it is important to share values -  does your project align with an Angel’s values and emotional connection to social issues? Some social and community issues Empty Space projects aim to address include:

  • Tackling the high unemployment by creating job opportunities
  • Building community capacity for the arts to be a part of young or disadvantaged people’s way of life
  • Playing a role in lowering crime, suicide and drug use
  • Improving the quality of life in the community
  • Fostering a dynamic local creative industry
  • Instilling local pride
  • Enhancing connection to the arts
  • Facilitating creative exchange
  • Engaging professional artists to collaborate with the local community in creating art
  • Producing excellent art and long term community development outcomes: cultural, social and economic
  • Building community capacity to express and celebrate cultural identity
  • Rebranding and regenerating precincts as a vibrant, artistic, creative hubs

More information:

The Wisdom of Crowds feature by Storm Cunningham in NewStart Magazine looks at the success of the crowdfunding model on local renewal projects in the US and UK.

How to Crowd Fund Community Projects by Chris Gourlay, CEO of, in The Guardian, 7 March 2012.

9 crowdfunding sites to help you change the world by Paul Anthony

Spanner Films' How to Crowd Fund Your Film is their guide to getting investor funding for a one-off project based on their actual experience producing the 'The Age of Stupid' film in the UK.



Corporate funding

The growth of corporate social responsibility programs across corporate Australia has been driven by heightened consumer consciousness when it comes to business supporting community sustainability. There is growing acceptance of the view that organisations can create value by better managing natural, human, social as well as economic capital.

Empty Space projects can capitalise on corporate funding with three particular focus areas that can generate shared value for both parties. 

Corporate Community Investment

Increasingly, some companies recognise they have a number of legal and other obligations to non-shareholder stakeholders such as employees, clients/customers and the community as a whole.

This is now taking the form of Corporate Community Investment (CCI). A study by the Australian Centre for Corporate Public Affairs, in conjunction with the Business Council of Australia, found that Australian business regards CCI as an integral component to strategy and more companies are allocating specific budgets for their CCI activity. The bottom line is that companies see CCI as a way to influence consumer attitudes about their products or services.

The most difficult aspect of garnering corporate support for Empty Space projects has traditionally been identifying and articulating the impacts of their activities and the potential for shared value with corporate partners.

Despite this, a clear connection of shared outcomes can be made between Empty Space projects and national community development construction firms. Many of these firms have mandates to develop community infrastructure, develop aged care opportunities and have strong incentives to see the quality of the local community spaces improve. Furthermore, many large construction firms utilise significant corporate social responsibility programs as they seek to prove their worth for multi-billion dollar development partnerships with State Government and local Councils. Examples include Lend Lease, Leighton and Stockland.

Business alliances

Research carried out by the Australian Business Arts Foundation and Australian Council for the Arts suggests that many corporate decision makers recognise the unique qualities of the arts and see the value of connecting their brand to a particular arts initiative. They understand that by partnering with the arts they can achieve key social responsibility outcomes. In addition, it is widely accepted that arts partnerships can motivate and excite internal stakeholders, and help make any company an employer of choice.

The arts can be integrated across many organisational functions, fostering a genuine partnership rather than a less valued 'sponsorship' relationship. Furthermore, research shows that businesses have a good understanding of what benefits the arts can offer through partnership. Corporate decision-makers stress that arts organisations must understand their company’s business needs, and what the business seeks from a relationship.

The business advantages for corporate alliances with Empty Space initiatives may include:

  • Brand enhancement
  • Value for money
  • Relationship management
  • Passion and loyalty of audience
  • Geographical market reach
  • Engagement opportunities
  • Social investment
  • Wholesome attractiveness of emerging creative industries

Foundations and Trusts

Foundations and trusts value the role of the arts as a tool for bringing communities together, bridging cultural, social, generational or socio-economic differences, and contributing to the development of healthy, productive communities. Such values are closely aligned to the mission and vision of most Empty Space projects.

This stream includes the opportunity to raise funds from foundations and trusts to invest into projects and/or to provide mentoring and development services delivered to the artists/creatives.

Once you've done your research, your Empty Space project can also strengthen their core service offering by providing artists and creative projects with information on opportunities on foundations and trusts and guidelines on preparing competitive applications. Once enough scale is achieved, this may even take the form of workshops, which will benefit the sustainability and growth of creative project incubation. Some of the target foundations and trusts may include:

More information

For a scaled annual fee - starting at $55 per year for non-profit organisations - the Easy Grants Newsletter and Database is your best source for updated information on state, federal and philanthropic grants available.