Backbone support funding

Posted 12 months ago at 10:41 pm

Hi Everyone,

I manage a collective impact collaborative called the Bay Area Climate Literacy Impact Collaborative (BayCLIC), comprised of over 30 informal enviornmental institutions deidcated to making the SF Bay Area the leader in climate education and action. We've been around since 2014 and have had some seed funding to support our work from our parents organzation; however, we've recently been tasked with creating a plan for longer term financial sustainability to support our backbone work. I'm not sure if you all are struggling to fund backbone support but we've found that funders are not incredibly interested in this; maybe you have evidence to the contrary!

In short, we're now contemplating moving towards a membership model, in which members of our collaborative would pay a sliding scale fee for our services. I'm wondering if other backbone groups have charged for their services and whether they'd be able to speak to that process.

Here are some of my specific questions to help guide thoughts on this topic:

  • What are the services/benefits offered by the collaborative—what is available for free, and what is members-only?
  • How many members do you have and what is the membership fee? If there’s a sliding scale, how does that change the fee structure?
  • Have you always had a fee for service/membership model or did you transition to this in later years? If it’s the latter, what was the reaction to charging a membership fee?
  • What % of your total budget is covered by membership fees? *If you’re based on a collective impact model, how much money goes towards backbone support staff funding? What other revenue sources do you rely on?
  • Do you see this funding model as the most effective for long-term sustainability (5-10 years+)? If not, what other funding mechanisms have you considered?
  • Any lessons learned on membership fees for other organizations thinking of implementing this?

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