Assessing the costs

There is no simple answer for how much an initiative like this costs to start and run. The beauty of this kind of approach is that is VERY cheap for the amount of opportunities it provides and activities it generates. 

The biggest factor cost-wise is labour and professional services. Fortunately, it is also the easiest to reduce if you have committed and skilled volunteers. 

Renew Newcastle went from nothing to managing more than a dozen spaces using only volunteer labour. 

Now that it is managing more than 20 spaces and is actively dealing with many property owners, it has two part-time staff members - a role that could be undertaken by volunteers if the number of spaces involved were less. 

The key costs involved in establishing something like a Renew Newcastle project are: 

  • Labour and management time - this can be volunteer or professional depending on the scale of the project and the people who are around and able to help. Some of this can also be seconded from other roles (such as council staff, regional arts workers, etc) if costs are tight.
  • Legal and professional advice - a good pro bono lawyer, accountant and/or auditor can save a lot of money here but if you have to pay for legal advice it could prove expensive.
  • Insurance - at a minimum you will need to take out public liability cover for the spaces that you occupy. In Renew Newcastle's case the policy cost a few thousand dollars to set up and a few hundred dollars for each property added. Other insurance will depend on the requirements of partners and property owners but may include property insurance.
  • Company registration or incorporation fees. To establish a company costs about a thousand dollars. An incorporated association costs less.

Costs such as marketing, outgoings, and expenses will largely be determined by how you choose to operate. Renew Newcastle projects each pay the outgoings on their premises and a $20 per week participation fee that goes towards the costs of the maintenance of the properties.