As a social enterprise we’re always looking for ways to generate income that is not funding-based. When I started the enterprise three years ago I was determined that I wouldn’t be a slave to pursuing endless pots of funding. Today I remain just as determined (having been that slave for three years!). It’s about more than just not wanting to spend my evenings meeting someone else’s random deadline. I genuinely don’t believe it results in good outcomes. How can jumping through the hoops of a national funder create a project that meets local needs? We have our mission and whilst keen to avoid mission-creep, in a world of lessening funds, we are required to twist our objectives to fit the requirements of a funder, some of which are sometimes frankly ludicrous in their demands. That’s why I prefer to talk about ‘customers’. Our commissioners are customers. They know best what they want. If they are buying, then they are in charge and should be getting the outcomes they want. In times of austerity we accept that their purchasing power may not be high. That’s why we’re looking at models of joint funding. We can secure a proportion of the project costs through traditional funding routes and a proportion from a our ‘customer’. That way we get their literal buy-in, they get a project better matched to their needs and it stays local and outcomes-focussed.