In 2021, Buddhafield Base began developing a multi-faceted fundraising strategy which included:
- large and small donations
- crowdfunding from the public
- crowdfunding from within our Buddhist community (which we call sangha funding)
- ethical bank loans
- low and no-interest personal or business-to-business loans
- angel investments
- and creating a share offer.
Over time, we have streamlined our strategy to focus our energies on a few of these possibilities. The share offer seemed like an obvious choice from this list given that Buddhafield has always been a community-led project. We want to welcome new voices and support. There are a large number of people who want to invest in us in some way. Many welcome the development of the Base project to merge and expand Buddhafield’s resources for generations to come.
Setting up the Share Offer
There are a few ways that we could have set up the share offer. After taking legal advice and working with Co-operatives UK, we decided on a Charitable Community Benefit Society (CBS) model. This is a variation of the co-op structure except that a CBS is usually project-focused rather than people-focused. This was a deliberate choice so that the project and its aims would be at the centre of the development of Base. People can come and go as needed without destabilising the larger vision.
A New Kind of Local
A community benefit society allows you to issue shares for fundraising. They are generally aimed at helping local groups buy something like a local pub or old building and save it for the benefit of the community.
Using the CBS model for our project is quite radical in that the Buddhafield community is geographically disparate. However, we are clear that a new kind of local exists in the world. Community spirit needs to extend beyond our immediate areas. Our shared issues and awareness are far more widespread now than they have been in the past. We aim to offer support through this share offer to strengthen and empower a wider community.
Features of the Share Offer
Full details about the share offer- including information about the risks involved are in our share offer document. Some of the notable and interesting points are:
- Shares in Buddhafield Base don’t appreciate in value – Shares are worth £1 and they do not rise in value like shares in a commercial company. You might think of buying shares as a donation that you could one day have back under the right conditions. The ‘interest’ on your investment is the benefit of seeing the project blossom. Benefits include the knowledge that you are investing in a resourcing tool for current and future generations. We are creating the right conditions for Buddhafield Base to be a successful business. This includes the thriving enterprises we already have and new ventures for which we know there is a ready audience. The latter includes training for young people, solitary retreat huts, and long-term apprenticeships. However, we are not planning to perpetuate the model of profit and ownership that has caused harm in the world. We aim to pay back our shareholders out of gratitude and ethics rather than corporate motivations. We will be able to do this in a number of ways including future share offers. The momentum around the Base project will continue to grow after the initial purchase of the land and property. That stage is just the beginning. Any profits from Buddhafield Base will be reinvested in the project.
- One member, one vote – The minimum investment in the Buddhafield Base share offer is £250 and the maximum is £100,000 (unless another society is investing in the project – contact us if you wish to invest more than this). However, each investor gets one vote in any meeting. This encourages financial accessibility and power equality in the project.
- Involvement in the community – As a Charitable Community Benefit Society, we will hold an Annual General Meeting each year. All our members will get an invitation. This is where we will report on the activities of Base, vote on any matters that are brought to the meeting, and, when necessary, elect new directors. Being Buddhafield, we’ll also make sure these are fun, cosy events with some practice, celebration, and good, vegan food. Members will also be able to apply to be Directors if they meet the qualifying criteria and time commitments.
Why invest in the share offer?
The main aims of Buddhafield Base are to help us:
- Create a hub where we can work out how to be together in this changing world and creatively approach the challenges we all face.
- Sustain Buddhafield for future generations to enjoy the fruits of practice and our events.
- Further our educational and support aims that resource individuals and communities.
- Create stronger bonds within the Buddhafield community and give us a chance to expand.
- Allow us to employ people for more time to further the community aims.
- Support growing ethical enterprise opportunities that help to meet people’s core needs.
- Create more volunteering opportunities so people can connect with Buddhafield year-round.
- Look after around 70 acres of land and use it to exemplify living simply and harmoniously. This will also help to further these aims on the existing Buddhafield land.
If you want to be part of realising these goals, then becoming a shareholder in Buddhafield Base could be for you.
There’s so much more that we could say about the share offer. Developing it has been a journey into the values of Buddhafield Base and the long-term vision of the project. These are just some of the highlights.