CoBudgeting 2016

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This is one of the pages on this wiki which came out of the Wortley Hall 2016
Co-operative Technologists First Annual Gathering at Wortley Hall, 14th - 17th November 2016.

Text copied from the Hackpad.

Cobudgeting

Present: Jazelle, Matt Kendon, Chris Roos, Brian Spurling, Matt Parsons, Louise, Nick from cooperative web

Kick off questions

  • Who can be involved?
  • What structures and processes do we need?
  • What are the risks?
  • How do we balance different principles?

Sixty Second Intro – Outlandish's Experience

  • Surplus from Outlandish set aside for funding projects
  • Surplus divided between workers at Outlandish based on how much work each had done
  • The software 'cobudget' made by Enspiral was used by workers to assign their pots to projects
  • Some projects were internal, some external
  • Projects don't expire

Brian: how can we get multiple stakeholders in the Megazord to participate and contribute to the fund?

Louise: what if you don't make a surplus?

Louise: we're really keen to be part of it, but it's difficult for us to make it work for us. We only work in the third sector, so don't have a big enough margin on our work. It would be great to charge more, but we could price ourselves out of the market.

Matt K: have you talked about working with clients that you can charge more?

Louise: yes, but we're not interested in working for commercial projects.

Matt K: the advantage of making a surplus is that it empowers workers to choose what they fund and work on.

Brian: Outlandish is a strong believer in its model. We have proven that a 'Robin Hood' model can work. We are all profit making companies.

Louise: of course we are, but we choose to minimise it.

Why are we cobudgeting in a network?

  • We want to create social value
  • Power in numbers
  • Wider pool of skills
  • Enspiral do something like this, it works for them
  • Good to spread knowledge of ongoing social value projects
  • It could be the glue that holds the network together – if we all invest money together, we will be happier about sharing work with each other

Chris: Why aren't we just putting our money into an existing crowdfunding platform?

Brian: There wouldn't be the same visibility of what different coops are doing and investing in.

Matt P: It's much easier to put a project on cobudget than kickstarter.

Brian: But there is something good about external people also being able to contribute.

Practicalities

Nick: Are we going to have to give all our surplus to cobudget? We need to keep some of it!

Joaquim: It should be voluntary. We shouldn't be mandating all coops to give some percentage of their surplus to cobudget.

Matt K: It should be voluntary. After all, many coops (like Louise's) are doing social good directly. There is potential for great collaboration between more profitable coops and coops that work in less well funded areas. We would get many more project ideas in a network than as individual coops.

Nick: I would be interested in voluntarily donating surplus to cobudget. We need to build up our reserves before we can contribute.

Matt P: On cobudget, you could say "Web coops spent all our cash on cobudget – can we please have some of it back?"

Brian: I think you should build your reserves. We have reserves at Outlandish too.

Joaquim: Should individuals or organisations allocate funds in cobudget? Brian: That could be up to the organisation.

Louise: Lets not have too many rules on participation, just enable as many people as possible to participate. It's important to recognise that different business models exist. Nick: You're saying you don't want to be seen as less for not making a profit, but for us it's the opposite: we don't want to be seen as less because we are trying to make a profit. The bigger we get, the more we seem like a business and not a coop.

Matt K: Cobudgeting is about being as impactful as possible. To enable any type of business to contribute to positive social change.

Louise: We talk a lot about the cost and the value of work. Organisations often given a half-finished product for free by people seeking to "do good", but who aren't actually committed to delivering it.

Joaquim: Should cobudget projects be managed more?

Brian: You really need to take tech-for-good projects seriously.

Brian: Outlandish is very happy to be paying for people to do socially good work. And I suspect that this is a common psychology across the Megazord. We shouldn't discriminate between our own members and other members of the Megazord.

Brian: I want to considered a tiered approach where we have 4 levels of cobudgeting:

  • None at all
  • If you collaborate on a project, we will put some portion of the surplus into cobudget
  • We put some portion of all of our surplus into cobudget
  • In the future, maybe a more formal foundation could be set up

Maybe there should be an incentive from moving from sporadic voluntary to regular, committed voluntary contributions.

Chris: This doesn't seem like "cobudgeting" to me – what part of it is "co"? You put your own money in, and then you spend it!

Brian: There is a cultural effect where people tend to contribute to other people's projects and not their own. This leads to investor buy-in across projects.

Chris: We need to make sure that if you can't contribute money, you can still contribute ideas. But then they don't get a voting right on projects?

Brian: Of course – you have no money – you can't fund anything if you have no money.

Chris: This might create different levels of contributors to the system.

Brian: Enspiral talked about a "genius developer" who has no money and is living off a cobudgeted fund.

Chris: We have a reserve that allows us to take time off working on commercial projects.

Brian: I would love to see your projects appear on our cobudget.

Matt P: It would be difficult for there to be too many ideas on cobudget – they're all exciting.

Matt P: Is anyone contributing the Worker Coop Solid Fund? Projects only get funded if consensus is achieved. Cobudget is potentially stronger, as it is faster and more flexible.

Brian: Potentially cobudgeting requires a particular structure of finances and accounting.

Louise: Should you be able to contribute not with money, but with time and skills?

Summary

  • The less rules the better. We should be as flexible as possible in allowing people to participate.
  • There are existing models that we could look at: Outlandish, Enspiral, Worker Coop Solid Fund and People Coop.

Next steps

  • Open up Outlandish cobudgeting system (and fix bugs)
  • Provide documentation about how to use the app
  • We need to figure out the process outside of the cobudgeting system – e.g. who invoices who when they actually need to be paid
  • Set up a working group
  • Come up with, and publicise, the definition of cobudgeting
  • Discuss non-monetary contributions (e.g. skills and time)

Definition: What is cobudgeting?

  • Crowdfunding for Megazord projects (internal or external) that can be funded or delivered independently or collaboratively
  • You have complete autonomy over how your own money is spent

Examples

  • Funding the next retreat
  • Supporting a coop that's going through tough times
  • Internally facing projects, e.g. paint the walls
  • Internally useful tools
  • Social value projects
  • Fighting against inequality (e.g. funding women developers to come to the retreat)