The Little Big Idea
What is the Cynefin Hedge Fund?
The idea of Cynefin Hedge Fund is simple really: to crowdfund environmental projects and support as many others as we can along the way.
We will always provide research grants, small grants to community groups and charity initiatives, and we’ll be commissioning publications from subject matter experts to help all of us save the world.
Hedge Fund projects will focus on Woodland Preservation, Woodland Creation, Research and Development, and Sustainable Living, but these four areas aren’t overly prescriptive – for example, if we decide in the future to prove that you can build an eco-friendly home and provide it to a low income family on a twenty-five year lease at £500 a month, we will be able to do just that.
Many of the projects will, at least initially, be focused on the purchase – for preservation and/or management – of woodland and agriculatural land in parcels ranging from small lots of several acres to large sites covering many hectares. Each will be different, each will provide different challenges and opportunities. Some will become home to short-rotation willow coppices of new trees generating bio-mass grants to local people, others may become home to charcoal-fire woodland forges, providing workspace to artisans, others may be designated for the sole use of forest school initiatives. Podcasts will be made at designated sites, as will films, and some former agricultural sites may even become research centres in which new types of home design and sustainable community models are created. Land, however, changes hands quickly, so there has to be a degree of flexibility in everything Cynefin Hedge Fund tries to achieve.
This is not Kickstarter after all. Hedge Fund is just a big idea focused on little things and, much as in our own lives, we won’t always get exactly what we want. But if we try…you know the lyrics.
Reinvest and Recycle
How Cynefin Hedge Fund generates income.
Cynefin Hedge Fund is a business and needs to generate revenue in order to function. But that doesn’t have to be completely cut-throat and it is important everyone supporting projects understands how things work.
Initially, income will be generated through the funding of projects on this site, each one fully costed so it accounts for expenditures – such as transaction fees, land purchases, or legal fees – from the outset. There won’t be a built in profit margin on projects but sometimes we might get lucky and manage to make savings, so this money will be reinvested in Cynefin Digital Limited, to pay for day to day running of the business, wages, administration such as the website, and professional service costs like accountants.
Beyond the initial funding stage, each project will also have its own business plan. This will incorporate how that site will generate its own income – whether it be selling charcoal, seasoned logs, hosting low key events, or being a source of audio-visual content like films and podcasts. This is the second part of the Cynefin Hedge Fund business model and will be how the company becomes self-sustaining.
This revenue will be fed back into Cynefin Hedge Fund, used to pay the costs of running the business, and reinvested, eventually (hopefully) eliminating the need to crowdfund projects and allowing the purpose of this site to develop into something different – perhaps a place where you can simply vote upon which projects Cynefin Hedge Fund should invest in.
Cynefin Digital Limited may well be a business but we are absolutely committed to transparency, which is why we make sure a detailed breakdown of our finances is available on our transparency page. One day, when we’ve reached a few milestones, we will create a charitable foundation too.
Pride and Practicalities
How Cynefin Hedge Fund works in reality.
To get pride out of the way first: Cynefin Hedge Fund isn’t perfect because the world isn’t perfect. We built the site from scratch and manage it in house. And many things are out of our control too – did you know woodlands don’t attract inheritance tax, which is accelerating the turnaround time on woodland sales and purchases, leaving the market blink-and-you-will-miss-it quick? There’s no easy way to achieve what we want to do, so off the peg just can’t be our style.
A project will become live and visible on the homepage. It may run for a specified period or have no deadline at all, but it will specify exactly what it is for.
We don’t operate a complicated payment system which waits to take your pledge until you’ve fogotten about it and payday is a distant memory. When you make a pledge to a project, the payment is processed immediately and the project’s statistics will tick over. As soon as you make a pledge, transaction fees are incurred (normally around 2% + 20p, depending whether you pay by Paypal or Stripe at the check out.) It’s important to be honest about these things up front, so please only make pledges if you are committed to supporting individual projects and Cynefin Hedge Fund as an initiative, because the cost implication of refunds – in short, covering the transaction fees – will detract from what we can achieve. On the plus side, there are no platform fees as everything here is ours.
To mitigate the impact of transaction fees on our projects we apply a simple formula in calculating our project target values, to ensure there are never shortfalls caused by the compulsory deductions. Each project will specify a minimum pledge, starting at just £3.00, and this means we can reduce a loss of almost 25p in every pound to 9p in every pound. (With a minimum donation of £5.00 this reduces to a loss of 6p in every pound. We then uplift the purchase price of land, for example, to accommodate the transaction fee losses. The full costings for each project will be set out clearly in the project page and, as we are a limited company, our accounts will always be published and viewable at Companies House. Transparency is everything.
At Cynefin Hedge Fund, there is no such thing as a failed project. Every project will have a fall back option, in so far as any project which achieves part of its target but not the whole will nominate a secondary purpose to make sure nothing is wasted. This will be clearly stated within the projects and could be, for example: “If this project fails to meet its full target the funds will be used for Cynefin Foundation research grants,” or “If this project fails to meet its target, the funds will diverted to a project or projects in the same category.” Everything here is transparent, leaving you to make reasoned choices about whether or not to support projects and Cynefin as a whole and, to be blunt, recycling is no bad thing.
Once you pledge, you will also recieve access to restricted content including future podcasts, articles, and films before they are released to the general public as well as exicting news on getting involved offline and taking part in prize draws for things like camping nights once we have some sites up and running
In most cases, land ownership will be held in trust the foundation, while in others, where a project specifies it, it may even include the creation of a project specific Community Interest Company or similar, in which those who pledge become shareholders too. The details will be clearly set out in every project, so you’re empowered to make choices which are right for you in supporting projects.
To be absolutely clear: we are not about creating public spaces, parks, camp sites, or picnic areas that people can visit at will. Many of the sites for sale, for example, have poor access or are sites of Specific Scientific Interest, so our focus in most cases is preservation and conservation but every project will have a clear plan outlining how we will bring that slice of nature to you.
Sometimes, they say, there’s such a thing as too much honesty. We hope this just the right amount for you.
From James Patrick, the founder of Cynefin Hedge Fund.
We all have a duty to work harder. Not just to encourage Governments to implement environmental policy. Not just to recycle our own waste. Not just to lift each other up. These are all things we should be doing every day by conscious choice.
The duty we have is to work harder for our world. To be genuine stakeholders in the present and the future, rather than passengers on a journey we do not control. To understand and enhance our environment, rather than trying to work around it.
This provides a challenge we can rise to in unison. To preserve land, plant trees, and establish sustainable communities. To find new ways in which we can make the most of our environment by enhancing our approach to it – and by bettering ourselves in doing so.
While many efforts are being made in this area, in particular with regards to forestry, there is significant room for improvement in the methods being used and a route by which forestry and agriculture can be encouraged to step away from reliance on state-led subsistence models engineered through common agricultural policy which, in some cases, promotes idle land custody.
In truth, our time to actively pursue change is limited (and decreasing by the day) yet we can still take the steps which start the journey to a better future. Individually this presents a challenge beyond most of us. Collectively, however, we can and will succeed.
I feel like I’ve spent my life so far doing good things the hard way – mainly because I’ve been faced with a number of situations which meant I had to carry burdens on my own. It wasn’t until I lost everything and found myself swimming below the surface of rock bottom that I started to see a better way. People are fundamentally kind, fierce, and all want to be able to do something decent. And, rather than waste that great gift in this connected world of ours, I think we have a shot if we harness experience and desire and focus it on the world we live in. Call it paying it forwards for those who come after us.
Cynefin is a welsh word which, in essence, means a place where the nature feels right. A place we belong, together. Home. And ours may not be perfect but we are going to make the best of it.