These are the basic principles concerning how we handle money.
- We will ask the members for a monthly membership fee; we will ask (but not require) wealthier members to contribute a higher amount, and we will provide a bursary place for anyone who is genuinely unable to afford it.
- We will pay our way. While we expect our members to contribute through their membership fees, we will not expect people or organizations to donate goods or services. We will, however, gratefully receive any finance, goods or services which are freely offered.
- We will pay a fair rate for work we ask people to do. Most of the input from people will be voluntary, but where people are asked to provide a service (such as graphic design or website building), that service will be paid for at a normal commercial rate unless the person or organization concerned offers their time and skills for free or a reduced rate.
- We will raise funds before we spend them. We will not take out loans, take on financial obligations without having the necessary resources, or get into debt by any other means.
- We will operate an open book policy. All transactions will go through the accounts and the details of most transactions will be made public.
- We will operate a bank account. Payments will require two signatures.
- We will not store cash. All financial transactions will go through the bank account; any cash donations (should there be any) will be paid into the bank account at the earliest possible opportunity.
The membership fee is currently £5 a month, but we are open to reviewing it. If you cannot afford £5, we ask you to contribute £1 a month. If you genuinely cannot afford £1 but wish to join, we have some bursary places available so please contact us for details. There are several basic reasons for this membership fee: for more about these reasons, please see Why a Membership Fee? but, in summary, they are ...
- Knowing the members. We are building a community where you can know and trust the other members, and this means we have to know who the members are. A monthly payment connects your membership identity with someone in the real world, and discourages trolls from joining in order to disrupt the discussions.
- Covering the costs. It costs money to operate a community like this, and the costs grow as the community grows. While the costs are initially low, we do not want to be in a position where the community is successful and then we have to ask people to start contributing to something they have become used to receiving for free.
- Unbiased choices. The finance has to come from somewhere and, as we know, 'the person who pays the piper calls the tune'. There are only a few ways of covering the costs, and they all have disadvantages.
- Future possibilities. If this community is successful, and we develop a vision for how we can make the world a better place, then the presence of some money in the bank will give us the possibility of deciding to do something worthwhile together.
This approach provides several advantages, and enables us to make some commitments.
- The financial aspect of the project is explicit and addressed up front.
- There is only one category of membership: nobody can pay for greater access or privilege than anyone else.
- The project will not be financially supported through advertising, with all the implications of support and endorsement of specific products and services.
- The membership details will not be sold or otherwise made available to any external body.