Success stories

Chequers Kitchen brought back to life

A winner of the 2018 Calor Rural Community Fund, Chequers Kitchen improves the quality of lives in their community by teaching people how to cook healthy, low budget meals from scratch.

Success stories

FenSong brings community together

Winners in 2019, performing arts group, FenSong, has been able to support children and adults with a place to meet, socialise and learn new skills thanks to a £5,000 boost from the Calor Rural Community Fund.  Watch their story to find out more.


What does a crowdfunding journey look like?

So you’ve made the decision that you want to crowdfund and raise money for your idea, business or organisation. Welcome to the beginning of your crowdfunding journey! But what does it look like from here on in?

We caught up with Bertie, Crowdfunder Coach, to find out what you can expect to happen along the way. 

As a coach here at Crowdfunder, I have the wonderful job of keenly following the progress of some of the best projects that are raising money with us. In my experience, the most successful projects, disregarding how much they intend to raise, follow very similar patterns meaning that there are some key things to know, such as what you do before going live and what you do during your campaign, that can contribute to the success of your crowdfunding journey.

In an ideal crowdfunding world, the total lifespan for a successful project would be seven weeks, which breaks down into three weeks of preparation, which includes planning and creating your project, and then four weeks of running your campaign and crowdfunding to make it happen.

Planning + Creating: The first three weeks 

It’s no secret that we believe the preparation of your campaign to be arguably the most important stage during your crowdfunding journey. If you can put in the hours here, then you’ll be sure to reap the fruits of your labour later-on.

This planning period is essential and will help you to manage any risk in your campaign before going live, by giving you a strong understanding of where the money is going to come from.

If you’re not sure where to start when planning your project, then don’t worry because we’ve distilled everything that we have learnt over the last five years into three guides that will help you every step of the way, including planning, creating and running your project.

If you use these guides prior to going live, I can guarantee that you will raise more money for your idea.

Rolling it out: The following four weeks

Now that you’ve got a heck of a plan in place, it’s time to roll it all out. The crowdfunding part of your whole journey should be a short and sharp exercise. Crowdfunding is a small window of time that should inspire urgency and intrigue and it is this which will ensure a buzz of activity around your campaign.

Not only is it naturally difficult to sustain the necessary momentum and dedication, but any longer than four weeks and you may find that your Crowd (current and potential supporters) will start to switch off and become disengaged.

Good to know: Twin peaks

So you’ve hit the middle point of your four weeks and it seems that support has dramatically slowed down. Well, I want to assure you that this is more common than you may think.

Traditionally in crowdfunding, we tend to see a peak of activity at the beginning, a lull in the middle and another peak towards the end of a campaign. And why? Because there isn’t the same sense of urgency in the middle – it’s as simple as that. Therefore, the challenge is to make sure that there is enough activity taking place in this middle section to ensure that you maintain the levels of engagement within your audience and the momentum towards your target.

Furthermore, to capitalise on the natural peaks at the beginning and end of your campaign, it’s important to make sure that the engagement here is as high as possible. Communications around each of these periods should be ramped up to full volume to drive people towards your Crowdfunder project page.

Below is a prime example of the kind of pledge activity that we see happening on a successful project, and you’ll notice the huge increase on the first and last day of the amount of pledges being made.

Make a schedule: Your crowdfunding plan

To make sure that you have got all bases covered, I would recommend creating a crowdfunding calendar. This should include all of the necessary daily and weekly activities that you’ll need to implement to capture the attention of your audience and sustain their interest.

If you have a plan in place for each of the key channels, then you can make sure that you are firing on all cylinders and effectively marketing your crowdfunding campaign.

What are the main channels? This might include phone, email, social media, traditional media, your projects update tab (to keep all of your current supporters in the loop) and events. Not all of these channels will be effective for your idea, but you can decide on your approach during the planning period of your crowdfunding journey.

Crowdfunding is hard work

The bottom line is that crowdfunding is a lot of work because it requires consistent attention throughout. My advice would be to allocate enough time to it and to save your holiday until after its finished! You’d be surprised the amount of people that go on holiday whilst their project is running, and you’ll definitely appreciate it more if you wait until the hard work is over. After all, it is a relatively small period of time that has a clear start and end date, so if you can focus your attention and energies throughout, then you can sit back afterwards and take a break knowing that you have managed to achieve more in a month than you might have in a whole year!


Planning a press release for your Crowdfunder

You’ve got a great project, but how do you get that all important coverage?

One of the key ingredients to launching a successful crowdfunding project is to make sure that you are not just making a lot of noise about your project, but to ensure that this noise is as effective as possible. As true believers in the power of the crowd, we think that connecting people and resources to make ideas happen is the best approach to keep in mind when planning your crowdfunding project. By working together, human beings can achieve incredible things – and you can have a lot of fun with your PR in the process!

Most importantly, as we say to all project owners, don’t ever underestimate the power of social media and press coverage. You can connect with local papers and notable figures (don’t be shy!) via Facebook and Twitter to get a real buzz going around your project.

If it’s relevant to your project, you can go one step further and get in touch with the local, or even national, press to gain some serious coverage. How do you go about this? You can use search engines to find the details that you require to contact various media outlets – this is a great way to form your own press list.

Local news reporting companies are a great resource to help build momentum and target potential backers. We know that this can seem scary, but they will be waiting to hear from you (and often saves them going out to find the story themselves!)

Don’t forget that it’s always a good idea to have some high-quality images to hand as a newspaper loves to put a photo to a story. Also, be sure to chase them – it’s important to follow up on that juicy press release you sent over with another email in a couple of days, if you hear nothing in the first instance.

So, now we’ve dropped the term ‘press release’, what exactly should you include?


This needs to be catchy and sum up exactly what you’re doing. Make sure your project name is in there and remember to include your location.

For example: ‘Manchester based ‘project title’ launch ‘what your project is about’ to raise ‘x amount’.

First Paragraph

A one-sentence paragraph/opening statement that gets straight to the point. Think about this sentence as the one you will use if you had 30 seconds to explain your project. Remember to include your project name, what you need the money for and how much you want.

For example: ‘Project title’, need ‘x amount’ to help them …’

Next Two Paragraphs

Now it’s time to explain your project in a little more detail. Your headline and first paragraph will be so punchy, that everyone will want to know why they should back your project! Outline what exactly the money is being used for. Explain your project in more detail – it’s okay to use information from your project page.

For example: ‘The ‘x amount’ raised through crowdfunding will be used for …’


It’s now time to get a really interesting quote in there, that stands as a testimonial to your idea. Make sure that you use your quote to say how important your project is and why people should pledge. Always make sure the quote is from the project owner, or someone influential.

For example: ‘Your name, your title’, said: We believe that ‘project title’ is a great project that will benefit the local community. The ‘x amount’ of money we are hoping to raise through crowdfunding will enable us to …’

Last Paragraph

This is the time to really sell your project and sum it all up. Mention your rewards, or the impact your idea will have on a greater scale and remember to put the URL to your project page.

For example: ‘Project title’ are offering some great rewards, for ‘x amount’ you can get etc…’ OR ‘Project title’ will have a huge impact on the community by…’


5 things you need to know before crowdfunding

So you’ve had a great idea and you know that it’s going to have an incredible impact on those around you and your community, but now you need the funds to make that idea happen – and word on the street is that crowdfunding can do just that.

It’s true. Crowdfunding is an excellent way of raising the funds needed to transform an idea, and can bring with it many other benefits such as raising awareness of your brand/organisation, gaining validation from the Crowd that they think your idea is a great one too and, once your project has successfully closed, you’ll have your very own Crowd of supporters joining in on your journey with you.

The thing is, however, that not all ideas are suited to crowdfunding – perhaps because the idea needs some development before it can be launched into the world, or you simply haven’t told anyone about it yet (and you need people to support your project!) In fact, the most common question that we get asked by new projects is, ‘Will my project successfully crowdfund?’

The team have put their heads together, and we think that it really comes down to these five things.

1. Can you reach enough people?

It is really important to have your own Crowd to get the ball rolling. What we mean by this is an engaged audience – whether this be via social media, an email database, or through conversation.

Facebook: Having a thriving Facebook page or group is a big step in the right direction for anyone looking to crowdfund. If you’re looking to raise over £2,000, we would really expect to see a Facebook page with a following of 500+ who are really engaging with your posts.

Email: Having a group of people that you can email is a fantastic way to reach lots of people and spread the word. To raise over £2,000, a list of over 500 people is a good starting point.

Real world: Although crowdfunding is online, the best way to ask someone to pledge is either face to face or on the phone. Holding events, like a launch party for example, is a great way to get people in a room and tell them all about your project, as well as being an opportunity to answer any questions.

2. Is your idea good enough?

Ideas have the unique potential to change the world, but it’s a good idea to test the idea out with some people first and find out if they would back your project. If so, how much would they be willing to pledge?

The answers that you get back from people can really help you to sculpt your project description and video, as well as give you an idea about whether your target is realistic.

3. Do I need to add rewards?

There are lots of different types of crowdfunding, but this is both a rewards and donation based crowdfunding platform. Therefore, yes! Add rewards to your project. Rewards are a great way of increasing the amount of money a supporter will pledge and it’s a great way for generating excitement around your project.

More often than not, a potential supporter will have an amount they want to give in their head before they even land on your project page, and good rewards (exclusive and good value for money) can help them to make a decision to pledge more.

When planning your rewards, make sure that you cover all types of budget by having rewards starting from as little as £10 – give everyone a chance to get involved.

4. How much can you raise?

Whilst there is no limit to the amount you can raise, we recommend crowdfunding for a realistic target that will enable you to make your idea happen. The amount that you can raise will come down to how big your current Crowd is and how popular your idea is with new supporters.

The average pledge made on a crowdfunding project (using ‘all or nothing’ funding) is £50. Therefore, a project looking to raise £2,000 will need around 40 people to make a pledge.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone who sees your project will make a pledge, so you should be looking to get over 800 people (on average, 1 in 20 people make a pledge) to the page to achieve a target of £2,000.

5. Make sure that you get off to a good start

No one wants to be the first to arrive to a party, and it’s just the same with crowdfunding – nobody wants to be the first to pledge! Make sure that you line up the first 10 supporters (friends and family) to pledge when you go live.

It’s a good idea to hold back on promoting your project on social media and in emails until you have 10% already pledged on your project page; it makes it much more appealing for potential supporters if they can already see others getting behind your great idea.

Success stories

2019 – the year we decided to mix things up

We all know good things come in threes, that’s why we made the prize pot our biggest so far in 2019; dishing out £70,000 to lucky rural community projects. Applications opened in March and we saw an astounding 325 projects apply to the fund over the 8 week application period. 

We saw a wide variety of applications come forward; some ideas were weird, some wacky, but all were inspirational. From the buzz of a beehive fully equipped for over 80 beekeepers, to the calming hues of a refurbished living room for those living with Alzhemier’s and Dementia, Calor’s Rural Community Fund was attracting hundreds of projects from all over the country. 

Prizes available

Not only was our prize pot the biggest we’d ever had, but so was the number of prizes we were giving out! The £70,000 prize pot was broken down into three funding categories: £5,000, £2,500 and £1,000. We made as much noise in rural communities as possible to encourage projects to apply and make sure they didn’t miss out on their chance to with a share.

Crowdfunder partnership

As well as providing top prizes, we wanted to give rural communities the best chance we could to raise money for their local project. This is why we partnered with Crowdfunder to offer projects the chance to raise even more money through match funding. Many projects grabbed this opportunity with both hands, and saw their projects come to life.


Once we’d asked the public to vote for their favourite projects, we had 42 shortlisted finalists making it through to the next stage, and it was now over to the judges!

The judges, made up of representatives from Mind, our corporate charity, Business in the Community, Crowdfunder, Plunkett and Rural England had the extremely tricky task of whittling our 42 finalists down to 21 winners; they assessed project applications based on four factors: Impact (40%) Sustainability (35%), Submission (15%) and Originality (10%). 

The competition was extremely tight in attempts to win a share of the £70,000 prize pot, however, the moment we’d all been waiting for… drum roll please…. The winners for 2019 were announced!

Somerford Keynes Village Lake 

Gloucestershire | £5,000

Their small village lake is a quiet space, an oasis of tranquillity. The community uses the area as a safe space which can be enjoyed by families of all ages.

Their funding has been used to improve the biodiversity of the site and make it more interesting/educational for children and families.

Refurbishment of Tafarn yr Heliwr

Gwynedd | £5,000

The pub had always been used by a variety of community groups, but had become an eyesore on the High Street. The funding was used to give the pub a complete refurb; by giving it a paint, updating the lights and signs and purchasing flower post and a bench, the pub tidied up the street and helped boost the moral in the community.

A Modern, Safe Drainage System for our Community Shop

Wiltshire | £5,000

The Community Shop is a business run for and by the community. They have a large team of volunteers who work in the shop. The grant helped them to provide the staff and volunteers with hygienic WC facilities. This facilitated them in developing café style services in the future by providing a toilet for public use. 

New Infrastructure for Abergynolwyn Children’s Play Area

Gwynedd | £5,000

The aim of their project was to revitalise their younger community in the old Welsh mining village of Abergynolwyn, now a centre for tourism. The village wanted to drive increased use of the Children’s Play Area, attracting more young families to the village.

The funding provided the community with the development of new infrastructure in the children’s playground, providing safe flooring for the main area.

Manton Community Outdoors

Wiltshire | £5,000

A team of 5 local mums set up this project to redevelop and extend the small, outdated village playground. The funding provided an opportunity for the village to extend the current play area and replace the old equipment with new, exciting play structures made from natural materials that complement the surroundings. They were also able to purchase sports and fitness equipment for older children, teenagers and adults, providing a space that is accessible to and utilised by everyone.

“The Living Room”

Dumfries and Galloway | £5,000

Those living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s need a place to go and to be within a comfortable setting to allow much needed interaction. The grant has enabled a complete re-decoration of the room; using calming colours on the walls, along with a number of memory boards created for stimulus and interaction. The room will also be fitted with a small kitchen and suitable furnishings to make it like any modern day rest home.

See and Be Seen

Wiltshire | £5,000

See and Be seen are a group of volunteers who help when a crisis arises in the community. The funding has gone towards the purchase of torches and helmet lights for their water rescue teams, hi vis clothing for their search teams and a camera and monitor to assist with riverbank searches and to see over walls and hedges. They also purchased signal flare packs for use with coastguard helicopter training and operations. All equipment requested for this project will massively assist the team during their searches for vulnerable people and help them to save lives.


Norfolk | £5,000

In an area of rural deprivation, FenSong wanted to give children the opportunity an experience they would not otherwise have. The group teaches children performing arts where they can learn to dance, mime, puppetry, song and much more. With the funding they received, they have purchased 5 portable keyboards and a lighting and sound desk, so the children can continue to boost their confidence and boost the sense of community in an isolated area.

HART Wildlife Rescue

Hampshire | £5,000

HART is a community hospital providing rescue, treatment and rehabilitation services for wildlife in Hampshire. With their winnings, they’re purchasing a custom made building, installation, heating and electrics for within the building, which will allow them to continue the great work they do in their community.

Corevedale centre for children – our new polytunnel

Shropshire | £2,500

Their vision was to create a new vegetable, herb and wildlife garden at their nursery, pre-school and children’s centre, with the intent to provide fresh produce grown straight to the children’s school dinners. The grant will fund the construction of a new polytunnel, raised beds, fruit trees, fencing and more; and will teach the children the importance of growing fresh produce, the skills of nurture and patience, as well as providing habitats for important wildlife.

Ogwell Youth FC – Community DWC – Accessibility for all

Devon | £2,500

The community was in immediate need for a DWC at their football club. With the grant, they bought this wish to life; installing a DWC, basin, handrails and a new door with RADAR compatible lock. They used the remaining funds to improve the facilities at the club.

Ilmington Community Shop Chiller Project

Warwickshire | £2,500

Ilmington’s Community Shop is the hub of the local community. With the grant they were awarded, they purchased a brand new temperature controlled fruit and veg chiller, improving the shelf life and quality of the food they store, in turn reducing the waste they produce.

Squirrel Wood Scout Camp

South Yorkshire | £2,500

Squirrel Wood is 72 acres of natural woodland with open grassed areas for camping, used by a number of scout groups and girl guides. With the funding, they purchased new tables and chairs for their indoor accommodation, as the ones they had were rapidly deteriorating and becoming unusable.

The Friends of Queens Park Community Group Craig y Don

Gwynedd | £2,500

The main aim of this project is to maintain and enhance the Queens Park for the benefit of the wider community. They applied for the funding so they could replace the safety area beneath their most popular piece of essential play equipment, their zip wire. 

The Transformational Thriplow Tree

Hertfordshire | £2,500

Thriplow’ s Tree is a mural in the central school stairwell which promotes personal and social awareness and wellbeing. The investment they received was used for the plastering and re-painting of the damaged stairway to give the tree the prominence it needed. 

Apiary for rearing Queen bees

Cumbria | £1,000

The aim of this project was to improve the Queen rearing process and develop the skills of the Cumbrian beekeepers. The funding has gone towards material for build new beehives, storage and bee suits for the beekeepers. It will help raise healthy, appropriate strains of bees to withstand the wet, cold conditions in Cumbria and offset the decline in bee stocks.

Blackout blinds for Holbeton Village Hall

Devon | £1,000

Those in an isolated community in Devon needed blackout blinds in their village hall to bring people together for local events such as film nights. The grant funded the blackout blinds for the 7 windows and now the community is thriving.

Equipment for conservation volunteers

Shropshire | £1,000

An ever-increasing group of volunteers in Shropshire applied for funding for more equipment and a trailer to safely carry the tools they need from site to site. The group undertake conservation tasks in over 40 areas within their community; a main one being the planting hedges, sowing seeds, pruning trees and clearing brambles in the local churchyard. The grant got them the appropriate tools to continue their good work.

Modernising the Village Hall Kitchen Facilities

Kent | £1,000

The village hall needed a reliable cooker in their kitchen to enable users of the hall to serve hot food at events if required. With their £1,000 grant, they purchased a Smeg Ceramic Range cooker so they can continue to cater for a variety of events.

Thrive Room to support children’s social and emotional wellbeing

Suffolk | £1,000

This project works with young people who need support and helps develop their social and emotional wellbeing. The grant has funded equipment for the Thrive Room such as building toys, Lego, toys, games, puppets, craft activities and much more, which will now enable the group to thrive even more.

Success stories

2018 – bigger and better

Calor’s Rural Community Fund was launched back in 2017 to improve the lives of those living in rural, off-grid areas, by providing them with the opportunity to receive a grant that would benefit their community. 

We were incredibly proud that the funding we previously donated to worthy causes had been used to make a difference to local groups and residents: from children to the elderly, through to the vulnerable and the fit and the healthy – there was a project for everyone. However, our work didn’t stop there. In 2018, to make sure that we could help even more communities who aren’t connected to the mains gas grid, we decided to double the Rural Community Fund pot from £20,000 to £50,000.

More prizes

Applications opened in March, and once again, applicants had two months to submit their entries. More than 200 projects applied for the available funding; with the prizes being broken down into the following: five top grants of £5,000, six totalling £2,500 and ten to the amount of £1,000. From the Orkney Islands to Penzance, we saw a wide variety of organisations apply for funds to renovate outdoor play and nature areas, buy vital equipment, improve much-needed facilities, teach essential life skills, restore community landmarks, access musical traditions, and help community members to get together. 

Voting begins

When the public started to vote for their favourite projects to help them get through to the final shortlist, we watched as 182,604 votes were cast in the space of just one month on Calor’s Rural Community Fund website. As per the year before, the projects with the highest votes in each funding category were shortlisted as finalists.

The shortlist

Out of the 216 projects that applied for the funding, 40 were shortlisted. They were then scored by a panel of independent judges made up of representatives from the national mental health charity, Mind, Business in the Community, Rural Services Network and Calor. 

The panel of judges then faced the hard task of going through the shortlisted projects, scoring and working out which particular entries would receive funding across the regions, with winners being announced on 20th July 2018.

The winners

Roger and Geraldine from Shutford Hall, winners of 2017’s Rural Community Fund, presented the 21 winners with their prizes live on Facebook. Each and every one of these funds has gone on to benefit the wider community now and in the years to come.

East Worlington School Garden Project 

Devon | £5,000

Rejuvenating the garden, which is not usable for three months of the year due to mud, so that it can be used all year round by children and different community groups in the local area

Spaxton School Outdoor Environmental Learning Area

Somerset | £5,000

Restoring the pond and pergola to provide a suitable outdoor area for primary school children to learn about nature.

New Kitchen for the Clubhouse at Ely Outdoor Sports Association

Cambridgeshire | £5,000

The grant was used to provide a hygienic working kitchen so that the clubhouse can be used for match teas, local social events, community meetings and fitness groups.

Dochas extension

Argyll and Bute | £5,000

£5,000 donation went towards relaying the flooring at the Dochas Centre which provides much needed support and information to carers in the local area.

Orkney Isles Music Instrument Bank

Orkney Islands | £5,000

Setting up a musical instrument bank so that local residents can borrow the instruments for free and learn how to play traditional Orcadian music.

Castlethorpe Sports Ground extension of car park

Buckinghamshire | £2,500

Increasing the number of parking spaces so that parents and children can make their way safely to and from the playing pitches.

Mount Hawke Academy Outdoor Adventure Playground

Cornwall | £2,500

Providing an adventure play area for children at the school and in the community to use in a deprived area.

Buckland Dinham Village Hall Facelift

Somerset | £2,500

Repainting parts of the village hall, built in 1880, and now used daily by many village groups and the wider community.

Inverie Primary School Playground Revamp

Highland | £2,500

Revamping the school’s playground, which serves a very small community of around 120 full-time residents. 


Kent | £2,500

Replacing kitchen equipment to continue providing cookery lessons and social activities for people on low incomes, older people and vulnerable members of the community.

Referees showers

Devon | £2,500

Providing separate shower facilities for referees at the rugby club, which run both adult and junior teams.

Tarbert Toppers Junior Sailing Club

Argyll and Bute | £1,000

Purchasing a SailQube dinghy, so that children can learn how to sail in a fun and safe environment, without the usual prohibitive financial costs.  

Buckland Primary School community pond

Somerset | £1,000

Installing a non-slip surface that is accessible year-round and wheelchair friendly, so that the school children, as well as the local community, can enjoy the pond inside and outside of school hours.

Inchmarlo Village Hall Overhead Projector

Aberdeenshire | £1,000

Purchase a fixed overhead projector for existing community groups to use in the hall, and to expand the hall’s usage to cater for talks and show children’s films too.

Hartington Rural Social Group

Derbyshire | £1,000

Purchase of chairs with arm rests to assist the elderly who take part in the group when settling and rising from seating. Also replacement and relocation of two defunct sockets in the kitchen to better provide refreshments for the 18 user groups who use the same village hall.

Defibrillator Project for North East Wales Search & Rescue (NEWSAR)

Denbighshire | £1,000

Purchase of defibrillators for NEWSAR team members to use when they are first on scene, delivering life-saving treatment in remote areas.

Rocking Ukuleles of St Ives

Cambridgeshire | £1,000

Purchase of audio equipment so that the group can continue to perform at charity events and help raise money for local good causes and charities. 

Stockton Community Bus Shelters

Norfolk | £1,000

Purchase of concrete bases for two bus shelters in the village.

Indoor and Outdoor Cooking Skills

Northumberland | £1,000

Purchase of cooking ingredients and equipment to enable the local scout group to learn cooking skills, hygiene and nutrition, and enable them to run a restaurant in the village which will teach them key skills such as time management and budgeting.

Scole Nature Trail Trust

Norfolk | £1,000

Provision of seating, benches and picnic tables in the parkland.

Kilsby War Memorial Restoration 

West Midlands | £1,000

Materials and labour for the restoration of the war memorial.

Success stories

2017 – the year it all began

Here at Calor, we’re so passionate about the rural British countryside. From its rolling vistas to its serene and tranquil ambiance, there’s really no place better.  But we know living in rural areas doesn’t come without its challenges – and that’s why we decided to give something back. 

Making an impact

By giving back, we didn’t just want it to be a one off goodwill gesture. We wanted to make a real impact to rural communities and to those residing within them. We wanted to help communities to thrive, to improve, and to fundamentally remain a place where people love to live. So we thought what better way to achieve all of this than to offer a Community Fund to rural community projects that have been designed to improve local life.

The launch

In 2017, we saw the launch of the Calor Rural Community Fund. We encouraged community projects far and wide to apply for a grant of up to £5,000 from a £20,000 prize pot. These projects had to demonstrate that they were located off-grid (not connected to mains gas), would leave a lasting benefit to their community, and would improve the lives of their wider community.

Prizes available: 2 x £5000, 2 x £2,500 and 5 x £1000

Applications opened in March and we excitedly watched as community project applications began rolling in. And by the end of the application stage we’d received a total of 127 entries! From the weird, the wacky and the wonderful, the variety of different projects were a delight to read. 

Over to the public

Then it was down to the public to shortlist these projects, to help them get through to the finals. Each and every person that registered on the Calor Rural Community Fund website received a total of 10 votes, and they could use these votes to support one or more of their favourite projects. The projects with the highest votes in each funding category were shortlisted as finalists. More than 17,000 took to their screens to cast their votes.


From the 127 community projects competing for funding, 30 were shortlisted as finalists from the public.  These projects were then presented to our panel of impartial judges for final scoring.

Celebrating the winners

On the 12th July 2017, we announced our first ever Calor Rural Community Fund winners! A total of nine communities were granted funding, and this money has gone on to leave lasting benefits for their local people.

The winners were:

35th South West Cheshire Scout Centre. Provision of Heating and Hot Water

Cheshire | £5,000

35th SW Cheshire Scout Group is a successful scout group in Wistaston, Crewe, Cheshire with in excess of 120 young persons at any one time. Their former Scout Hut was rapidly deteriorating and would soon become unusable. So, they either had to find a new premises or close the group. They decided to demolish the building and replace it with a new Scout Centre, a centre which required the installation of heating and hot water. And this is where the funding from Calor came in – they used their funding to install a new LPG heating system to keep their Scouts warm and toasty. The Hut is now even used by other groups in the community. 

Bude Sea Pool Community Play Equipment

Cornwall | £5,000

Bude Sea Pool is a sea water pool under the cliffs at Summerleaze Beach in Bude. It is a wonderful asset for the town, attracting thousands of visitors and local residents to use the safe sea-water environment every year. Their funding was used to purchase safe play equipment so that more children could learn to play in a safe and supervised way. 

New kitchen for Shutford Village Hall

Oxfordshire | £2,500

Shutford has a population of 450 people who are community-minded and enjoy doing things together.  The village has no shop or bus service so relies heavily on community involvement by using our village hall.  The village runs an annual Festival, bingo events, harvest festivals, theatre shows, carol singing, book clubs, musical performances and other events that Shutford people contribute towards and enjoy greatly. To improve the Hall’s catering facilities, the community used their funding to upgrade their kitchen into something much more functional. 

Fibre Broadband access for Lapford

Devon | £2,500

The local fibre broadband funding through Connecting Devon & Somerset has only been sufficient to fibre-enable the distribution cabinet closest to the exchange, which is some 1.5km away from the centre of the village, down by the main road.  This means that 65% of the properties in the village and, most importantly, the primary school, cannot access superfast broadband. Although a grant from central government was provided to cover major parts of the install cost, there was still a shortfall left to pay. And thanks to the Rural Community Fund, the community was able to utilise their winnings to finally get connected.

Herts and Essex Community Farm

Essex | £1,000

The Community Farm acts as a community growing space whereby people of all ages learn about produce growing. The Farm sees people from all walks of life and most who use the project find it therapeutic and relaxing. Their funding allowed the group to purchase of a new safe BBQ area, this helps them with their fundraising events which take place throughout the year.

Community First Responder Kit

Bedfordshire | £1,000

Known locally as the Community First Responder Group, this group of volunteers support the East of England ambulance service. The funding enabled the group to purchase a new lifesaving kit which is vital when attending and treating some of the most life threatening of injuries.

New stage piano for Buckden Singers community choir

North Yorkshire | £1,000

The Buckden Singers is a four-part, non-auditioned community choir based in the tiny Yorkshire Dales village of Buckden, in Upper Wharfedale. In the remote villages of the Yorkshire Dales, people have to make their own entertainment. And from humble beginnings, Buckden Singers has enabled more than 75 people – many of whom have had no previous experience of singing – to come together and make music, for their own pleasure, and for the entertainment of local people. The funding was used to purchase a much-need new stage piano so they could continue their performances. 

Diptford School Library Project

Devon | £1,000

Diptford School is a small school in rural South Devon. The school library is popular but small. It takes 20 minutes to drive to the nearest local library so for most of the children the school library is the only one they can readily access. The funding was used to purchase new books for their library, enabling children to improve their reading skills. The new books also supported the schools ‘Accelerator Reader’ programme!

The Park, Kilnwick – the creation of a new park combining educational and recreational elements.

East Riding of Yorkshire | £1,000

“The Park, Kilnwick” is a charitable project to transform a piece of agricultural land into a recreational asset for all ages within the community, enhancing health and well-being. Support from Calor Rural Community Fund allowed the purchase of a “team swing.” This “inclusive” piece of play equipment with a basket seat, allows groups of young people to play together, including those with special needs. It encourages team work whilst developing co-ordination and balance.


6 things I learnt when crowdfunding

We’re proud to be supported by one of the best crowdfunding coaching teams in the business headed up by Sami Mauger, Head of Coaching & Project Innovation at Crowdfunder.

Back in 2017 she ran her own project for the very first time to launch her jewellery brand, Catch The Sunrise.

Born out of early morning musings, road trips and fresh air, Catch The Sunrise is centred on simplicity; designed with wild women and adventure seekers in mind. Through her crowdfunding project, Sami offered the chance for people to pledge and pre-order exclusive pieces of jewellery, leading her to success with £3,414 raised from 72 supporters.

Sami was really excited to raise the funds to launch her collection, but aside from the money, some other curious things happened along the way… She has put pen to paper to reveal the things that you might not expect to happen when crowdfunding.

1. I reconnected with people from my past

“It’s very common to receive pledges from close friends and family, but what about people who you haven’t spoken to in years? Imagine my surprise when my favourite high school teacher pledged on my project! It was a totally unexpected blast from the past and really showed me that support and encouragement doesn’t have an expiration date.”

2. I realised I’d been flying under the radar

“Before I launched my project, I had been working on my jewellery startup for months. I had completed a silversmith training course and began renting a studio space… but probably hadn’t specifically mentioned it to many people along the way. Because of this, I found that most friends were really surprised when I told them about my project, which in turn really surprised me! It’s easy to assume that everyone knows what you’re up to, but in reality, they don’t know until you tell them.”

3. Gift giving was key

“After putting on their first pledge, some people came back and pledged again multiple times. One person even pledged eight times in total! The simple reason for this? I discovered that the multi-pledgers were planning to give the additional rewards away as gifts. These pledges accounted for over a third of the total amount I raised, so being able to offer rewards that would work as gifts worked really well for me.”

4. Appreciation not annoyance

“This was the biggest surprise of all. When you’re crowdfunding, you can start to feel self-conscious about messages that you’re sending to your friends and family. You think, “What if they don’t want to know about my project?” and can start to worry that you’re spamming them. What I found was actually quite the opposite. When I sent an individual message, I was met with appreciation rather than annoyance, and I would say on the whole, people were really happy that I had taken the time to speak to them one-on-one. This shone through on the pledges that followed.”

5. Not everyone wanted a reward

“I didn’t expect to receive any donations – but I did! Admittedly the donations were from family and close friends, but I still expected them to want something in return. In reality, they contributed towards my project because they saw an opportunity to get involved with something that I’m passionate about and to help with my startup business. Seeing me succeed was reward enough.”

6. My project hit target in less than 24 hours

“In hindsight, I might have been a little cautious when setting my target. £1,000 was the minimum I needed to buy some essential equipment, so I started with that on an ‘all or nothing’ basis. I’d done so much preparation that when I put my project live, it hit target quickly… almost too quickly. It actually took the wind out of my sails a little, as the big motivating factor of needing to hit my target evaporated. Next time, I’ll definitely aim higher.”