Friday Forum: Ask an Editor (Makerspace Program Edition)

Hey everybody! On Friday, June 13th (Friday the 13th AHHHHHH) from 1-4pm PST, I'll be answering your questions about the programs Instructables is running with makerspaces, hackerspaces, student groups, libraries, and fab labs around the world! 

Our main program is the Build Night program. Some past build nights include: Bare Conductive, Sugru, Lumi, Jameco, Cool Neon, Voltaic Systems, littleBits, and Dremel

In case you don't know me: my name is Carley :D  I am the Business Development and Partnership Manager at Instructables. Those are just some corporate-y words that mean:
  • I work with companies that want to introduce cool products to the Instructables community
  • I develop new programs for the community
  • I identify new groups to engage with in the maker community
(super boring job I know....)

Feel free to swing by this forum on Friday afternoon and ask me questions + submit ideas for new programs.


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ScottyatPMT3 years ago

We are considering starting a Community MakerSpace for Kids in a neighborhood where the kids could use a break.

We would start this as a not for profit. I would like to find the right type of crowd funding for the project. Any Suggestions?

Do any of you on the forum have any stories to share?

We have been discussing using the space in a double duty mode. Adults during the school day and youth after school.

Carleyy (author)  ScottyatPMT3 years ago

Hey ScottyatPMT!

Hmm I don't have much experience running a crowd funding campaign, but I would suggest looking into Kickstarter and indiegogo. One of our staff members, Bilal Ghalib, successfully funded a hackerspace in Baghdad using Kickstarter (see here).

A quick search of 'hackerspace' on indiegogo brings back this. And on kickstarter brings back this. Tampa Hackerspace is actually a very active participant in the Instructables Build Night program and was funded on Kickstarter. They could be a great outreach candidate.

I've asked some of the other editors at Instructables and will report back if they have any more suggestions.

I have some information that you may be interested in before you seemingly recommend a space based on what they APPEAR to be doing. A hackerspace MAY set up a 501c3 for purely self serving purposes, and in fact do little to educate anyone except their own paying members, while funneling money and publicity through with little understanding of their responsibility as a non-profit.Fabricating budgets, and expenses is easy for anyone with a computer, but if you're audited you need receipts. Everyone thinks they should be a non-profit so they'll get donations rolling in, but a properly run business should be able to get loans and grants on their merits. There are plenty of opportunities with Instructibles, Make, and others to put REAL programs in place, but proper planning and accountability should be a priority for a non-profit.

Do you mean, not-for-profit-YET...or will always be a non-profit? Because our space has this concept going on now...we just don't advertise it. (the adults for one time and kids for another, I mean. We are purely a 501c3

We plan to stay 501C3. From a crowd funding perspective we could issue donation receipts. Do you think that would be useful?

the donations will be a big boost to your infrastructure costs...just remember 3 things: 1- companies sometimes have a matching plan, so when you have supporters who are interested in donating- ask where they work first and check to see if you can enroll in their recognized plan; and 2- those donations through a monthly debit or cc transaction will always garner great yields when fundraising for donations and 3- try to establish a trust as early as possible. Membership is comes in highs and lows. By establishing a trust, eventually you'll be able to invest it and the capital gains from the trust will offset the shortcomings of membership dues when you hit the lulls.

(You might think, I'm just a little space...I'll never have enough use for a me, these things grow faster than you might realize. Oh, and it is very useful to have 2 ppl assigned to each task, if they are volunteers.)

so long as you stay non-profit, the officers at (our hacker/makerspace) will be happy to help in any way we can. Go through our google+ page (linked to the .org site) for anything not instructables related. Clint LeClair, MD -President of River City Labs

I would strongly encourage when you structure your organization, that you consider a role for mentors and advisers. The mentors will be folks that run other hacker/makerspaces. They will not only feel your growing pains, but will collectively give you options that worked and didn't work for their situations. Lastly, and most importantly for a new space, other hackerspaces have resources and tools you don't. We have already loaned out a couple 3D printers we've made and a laser cutter to other spaces. They don't have anything to contribute in trade, but sustainability of groups, near and far alike, is one of the central benefits of the sharing mantra.

The advisers will hopefully include folks from your local education boards and from the city or county (I'm assuming you are in the US). The school folks will bring instant outreach of parents and children alike, and the local municipal administrators (think economic development manager or the like) will know about little-advertised grants to encourage you to apply well as keeping you further forward of thoughts while working through city budgets and carving out resources for what these people (who are your advisers) consider important.

The area we are looking at has a charter school system. We are waiting a meeting with one of the principles that won a grant for a 3D printer. We are blessed with several universities in the city and hope to be able to get students as mentors for both youth and adults.

We are hoping to be able to get some assembly jobs from local industry to aid in providing jobs in the neighborhood.

I have interest in trying to find products needed by 3rd world children that we could make and ship to them. I think Kids helping Kids will make lifetime changes.

Kiteman3 years ago

By the time this starts, I will be under canvas and offline for a couple of days, so I'll leave these here in advance:

1. By what criteria do you measure the worth and success of Build Nights?

2. In general, how successful have the Build Nights been?

3. So far, which Build Nights do you consider to have been the most and least successful, and why?

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