[hackerspaces] How to make money to sustain a hackerspace

Shirley Hicks shirley at velochicdesign.com
Sun Dec 7 18:57:48 CET 2014

It depends on your local community and what your members are willing to do.

Option One: Increase membership dues so that you are actually covering your base operating costs and putting a little aside for future equipment acquisition. Also look at your class fees - are they comparable with what else is available in your region? A few examples from my experience - sewing machine shops charge for small session lessons on specific topics. Rates are are generally around $20/hour of instruction at a facility. Members may object to the increases - but they have to also consider how important your space is to them. 

You'll need to do a cash flow analysis to determine this - call in friends or members with either business or financial training for this. There are some formulas that are used across the non-profit and for-profit sectors to ensure that you're covering your costs. 

If the issue is affordability for the membership, then you will also need to look at doing some fundraising activities or applying for operating grants. Both of these will require you to think through and quantify how your operations are run. It's a fair amount of work. (our group in Birmingham, AL has been working hard on this all this past year so that we have a good foundation going forward). Groups don't last unless their financial foundations are sound. 

Also look at the specific market/community niche you are serving - have you looked at your surrounding community to determine potential competitors? For instance, in our community, we have a second makerspace. We've differentiated to focus on the intersection of electronics and programming with a bunch of different media (textiles, metals, acrylics, plastics) while our for-profit competition is focusing on more traditional shop skills. We also have to local university preparing to launch a space on campus for students (they will definitely have more resources), but I haven't seen anything in their plan yet to serve community members who aren't actually attending school or are otherwise employed on campus. 

Another option is affiliation another organization in your community to either lower operating costs, or cover the difference in exchange for facility use.

Financial stability and grant system knowledge is one of the reasons that many newest US spaces are being set up in conjunction with community libraries and universities. 

Shirley Hicks
Red Mountain Makers
Birmingham, AL
Option Two: 
On Dec 7, 2014, at 11:13 AM, Sparr <sparr0 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Many hackerspaces rent physical space to their members for exclusive
> use, ranging from box-sized storage to shelves to a desk or bench to a
> cubicle or office. Unfortunately the more profitable options on the
> right side of that scale tend to have significant side effects in
> terms of community and culture.
> On Sun, Dec 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM, Florencia Edwards <floev22 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> What do you do in day to day activities to earn money for the hackerspace?
>> We have memberships and workshops but its not enough to maintain it. We are
>> in crisis. Do you sell electronic kits, our kits you make there? Any idea is
>> good. Thanks
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