MEMBER REWARDS PROGRAM

Somebody needs to do the organising for the organisation. ―Josephine Brown

BrisLETS has a lot more potential than is currently obvious. The organisation needs to move forward to realise this potential; then it would thrive, rather than just survive.

In this article I will explain how the BrisLETS community would benefit if it introduces a member rewards program (MRP). I will also cite some funding models to support it.

Since last year, Simon Cole and I have been collaborating on the restructure proposal (Click Here). It has been partially implemented, with the MRP being the final, remaining phase to come on stream.

Not for profit and volunteers

In discussions on FaceBook and Slack, some members have questioned the need for an MRP, as our organisation is a not-for-profit. It’s therefore assumed that members (read, “other people”) should volunteer their time and talents for FREE to run and operate it.

However, other NFP organisations actually pay people to perform duties. This is despite such organisations also saying there is not enough money to go around; that they must rely on the government, or need to fundraise for $ handouts.

The big question is: why do we at BrisLETS assume that our volunteers should work for nothing?

Think about it…

Our organisation is based on the concept of mutual credit. This means we trade our time, goods and talents for units (of measure) so that we can exchange our units for other such commodities.

Why shouldn’t this apply to the organisers of the organisation?

Are your services FREE?

Some BrisLETS members are altruistic and do things for our organisation for free. That is very commendable.

However, is this really the best way to attract the necessary talent to carry out the functions needed for our organisation to grow and to benefit its members?

If we wait for every BrisLETS member to give their time and goods for free, we could be waiting a very long time!

Change mooted at AGM

At the last AGM, a change was proposed to the way in which volunteers are recognised for the work they perform on behalf of our organisation’s members.

Previously, committee members would apply to be remunerated for work they’d performed, and others would be remunerated on an ad-hoc basis.

That would be approved by the MC (recorded in the minutes) and presented to the members at the next AGM.

A vote was passed at the last AGM that the Management Committee be remunerated as a percentage of the transactional levy.

President Simon Cole had calculated this as equivalent to 20 minutes work per week at the going rate of 35 units per hour.

Transaction levy

One issue that comes up frequently is that we already pay a transaction levy of 4% on each side of the transaction, thus making it effectively 8%, so why should we pay more?

Unfortunately, this levy doesn’t raise enough revenue to cover the amount of time/effort needed to properly reward all of the people supporting the organisation without relying on them to DONATE more time and talent.

A unique suggestion

It was proposed that the transaction levy be increased.

Personally, I would suggest it be ABOLISHED. I see it as a form of usury that impedes the growth of our exchange.

To me, it’s a bit like the fee you pay every time you use the Eftpos or Paywave machine at the supermarket. The banks charge you this fee to use their credit/debit facility, and it’s around 0.5% on the value of your transaction.

Regardless of the transaction’s value, it doesn’t cost the banks any more to record it, so why is it a percentage of the value?

Getting back to BrisLETS, however, I can’t see us abolishing the transaction levy immediately ― not until we have a viable alternative.

Who is supporting our organisation?

That’s our Management Committee, currently, President Simon Cole, Secretary Jeni Lewington, and Treasurer John Tennock. These people are entrusted with carrying out the legal requirements to keep us incorporated.

We have several teams:

The Management Support Team is entrusted with managing the units and the CES side of our organisation, and guiding the other teams, being:

  • Membership: Judith Shaw
  • CES Website Admin: Simon Cole
  • CES Australian Liaison: Paul Wildman
  • PTS: Andrew Gaydon (BLCE1498)

Trading Team

  • Trading Facilitator: Simon Cole
  • Local Area Contacts: North – VACANT, South – Jessie Scott & Jeni Lewington , East – Andrew Gaydon, West – Judith Shaw
  • Drop-Off Point Hosts: Hugh Dickson, Alison Bryant, Sylvia Blayse, Simon Cole, Amanda Farrelly, Jessica Macdonald
  • Mediators: Michelle Maloney
  • Librarian: Rosemarie Severin

Events Team

  • Events Coodinator(s):  VACANT
  • Events Onsite: Isabelle Derouet
  • Events Online: Andrew Gaydon
  • Events Update email publisher: Andrew Gaydon
  • Special Events Organiser: Robert Vidovic


Promotion Team

  • Coordinator: VACANT
  • BrisLETS Website Administrator: Megan Simson
  • Website Editors: Simon Cole, Secretary, Andrew Gaydon
  • NewLETS Editor: Josephine Brown
  • Mailchimp email assistant: VACANT
  • NewsLETS copy editor: Jacob Saini
  • Social Media Moderator: Ishka McNulty
  • Graphic Artist & Marketing: VACANT
  • Fundraising & Grants: Robert Vidovic

You can see that many people do various jobs to support the organisation ― and that many positions still need filling.

The burning question:

Should we NOT reward these people for their efforts?

Let’s see some figures.

Expenditure budget

Based on the following assumptions …

  1. having a basic rate or reward of 35 units per hour
  2. receiving income from a transaction levy, based on the previous year’s amount
  3. each member of the MST (Management Support Team) being allocated the same stipend as the MC (Management Committee)
  4. a budgeted amount is based on an estimate, but in most cases this would be a token amount because the actual amount of time expended would be exceeded

Take a look at the proposed budget [Click Here]. It is subject to change.

What needs extra funding?

TRADING DAYS: We could offer units to our workshop (and other) presenters. This should also extend to the events person who turns up in good time to open the hall and close it at the end of the day.

PROMOTIONAL EVENT: We could reward members who attend promotional stalls at festivals, expos and markets. For instance, Anne Tennock and Simon Cole attended the recent Woodford Festival to advertise the benefits of BrisLETS.

We could also reward members who recruit new members and further promote BrisLETS and the CES system.

MATERIALS: Let’s also pay units to members for sundry expenses, marketing, graphic design and other ad-hoc costs involved in supporting our organisation.

Here is an incentive to get people actively involved in the organisation.

So based on the above assumptions and that we want to reward those who make a positive contribution to the organisation in order for it to grow and improve,
we need to fund it.

At last count there were 259 accounts. We have a funding deficit of about 7,800 units. If all of these accounts were active, it equates to about 30 units per account-holder. (We know that not all of the accounts are active.)

 

Funding models

We have found numerous funding models that could be adopted. Let’s look at some.

  1. Compulsory annual levy (in addition to the transaction levy)
    – Do we just debit everybody’s account, once per year?
  1. Volunteer donation of units (in addition to the transaction levy)
    – Do we ask people to donate units and hope there will be enough?
  1. A combination of 1 and 2
    – Do we charge every member a 25-unit levy and ask for donations to make up any shortfall?
  1. Increasing the transaction levy
    – Do we really want to do this?
  1. Fund it from the transaction levy and rely on growth
    – Raising an extra 7,800 units would require our total transaction amount to increase by 150% to 97,500. Last year, the total was 49,869.

Which funding model to support?

From the survey results, most respondents supported an annual levy of 20 units or more to support people organising the organisation.

I would advocate an annual membership fee of at least 35 units, due on July 31. This is the equivalent of just one hour of volunteering per year, if every member in the exchange (let’s say 259) donated;
this would raise ~9,000 units.

As you can see, numerous people do many pro-bono jobs for the organisation without being recognised, and in many cases do far more work than is being funded.

While it would be great for people to be offered a stipend for the work they have done (an hour’s work for an hour’s pay), it’s unlikely this can happen immediately.

Most likely a token payment will be made until we have sufficient income to cover the work actually carried out.

 

QUESTIONS (and some answers)

Q. What guarantee is there that, by supporting this, the organisation will grow and the number of members and trading will increase?
A. 
No guarantee, but it will give us some resources and incentives to actively promote the organisation.

Q. I already do lots of trading and give more than 35 units in the transaction levy every year, so why should I give more?
A.  Thank you for being an active trader and using the system to full potential. I’m sure you’d like to see the organisation thrive and more people involved.

Q. I don’t do a lot of trading and I’m already in debt, so 35 units will add to my negative balance.
A.  There are many opportunities to earn credits. Why not volunteer your time to bring your balance back to 0?

Q.  How do we know that the work will actually be done?
A.  People will still need to claim stipends by sending in a quarterly report to the MST (or units treasurer) detailing what they have actually done. You can keep a diary (online or digital) or a timesheet (Like this one)

Q.  What if I strongly object to paying volunteers?
A.  Volunteer for a job and donate your stipend back to the organisation. Otherwise you need to question your commitment to the organisation.

Summary

A member rewards program recognises those members who give their time and talents to assist the organisation.

Is it unreasonable to expect that every member of the organisation makes a contribution towards the success of the organisation?

Not every member has the time or skills to help the organisation, but you can show your appreciation by making a unit contribution and, by doing so, making a commitment to support the organisation.

An annual membership fee can be introduced to raise additional funds so the organisation can reward members for working to further the organisation’s goals.
This fee would be due on 31 July, and the recommended amount would be at least 35 units.

Please support the organisation that supports you and your trading.

Consider applying for a vacant position, as numerous ones need to be filled. You will earn units for your efforts.

Conclusion

Let’s not forget the bigger picture: we could become a model for other organisations (not just LETS) to copy.

Rewarding members who offer their time and talents to help organise and promote the organisational goals means not having to rely on the same set of volunteers (who would burn out) nor having to rely on government $s to fund activities.

— Andrew Gaydon (BLCE1498)

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