CoTech CoBudget


I had the same thought: start with turnover, and a tiny percentage based on that.

Whether it’s optional or compulsory is vital of course; it could perhaps be dealt with in one of 2 ways:

Either a decision on CoTech-wide pooling in (say in November meeting, or via Loomio)

Or any co-ops can choose to put into it, in return for a consensus-based decision by the (subset of) co-ops who donated in any year or round of projects. And/Or co-ops which cannot afford even a tiny % could (optionally) request to be involved in decision making (they would have no financial stake at that stage, but could put their case to those who did, especially if there’s a project they want to see happen, or could help with?)


Good. So – what’s the proposal that is most likely to reach the best consensus around the whole of CoTech? What do we need to do to find that out? What kind of consultation or discussion, and how? Obviously we could start at the November meeting.


To put teeth on the network and make it far more likely to succeed. AFAIK pretty much ever single successful co-operative network in the world systematically pools resources.

Given principle 6 “co-operation amongst co-operatives”, and given what a proven model it is, I personally find it to be completely bonkers that more UK co-ops do it so little.

(BTW: as a related aside: are another co-ops CoTech co-ops already members of the Worker Co-op Solidarity Fund?)


I only mentions the VAWC model as that is one of the smallest %s I’m aware of - but personally I’ve always the idea of 1% of revenue.

They also have less security. So six of one, half a dozen of the other imho.

My view is that it should absolutely be compulsory for all member co-ops. Either we’re systematically pooling resources (because that is what all successful co-op networks do), or we’re not.

Although of course it needn’t necessarily be a fixed % of revenue, or even a % of revenue at all. I believe that within the Enspiral network all member ventures have to contribute to shared costs but each venture has their own mutually agreeable agreement as to what that looks like:

“Each venture defines how they wish to contribute to the network, financially and otherwise. This could be a flat monthly fee, a percentage of revenue, discounts on services, or any other contribution they wish to make. The basis of the Enspiral model is reciprocity and generosity - the expectation is to contribute at a level reasonable to the resources and stage of the venture.” (although I note this is marked as out of date).

Another example might be Radical Routes, who are probably the best existing example of a UK co-operative network with a decent track record. They don’t pool money, they pool time, i.e. all member co-ops have to commit to spending a certain amount of time (based on how many members they have) working of Radical Routes tasks.


To be clear, I’m speaking personally here and not for my co-op.

I’m not really keen to establish this just because everyone else does it. Especially if there was previously an attempt at this that failed, I’d really want to see an analysis of what went wrong last time and what will be different to try and address that next time first.

I’m aware of the co-op principles - my co-op recently did a round of donations: for instance.

But I’d much rather see a positive case made for what explicitly can be done with a central fund that co-op’s can’t do individually.

For instance, to return to the one concrete example of Open Source donations; let’s say 10 co-ops all use Python and want to donate £100 each to the Python Software Foundation. To the Python Software Foundation, it gets £1000 either way - whether it comes through a central fund or in pieces from each co-op directly. So in that example, I don’t see what the advantage of this is.

So what I’m curious about is: what are the opportunities that a central fund can address that can’t be addressed individually? And why did it go dormant last time, and what will we do this time to try and fix that?

(I’m not against this - honest! I’m aware places like Enspiral do this. My position is: yet to be convinced)


I think another key aspect of the way that Enspiral does it is that

There are more barriers to the former than the latter. A way of Cobudgeting time would be for us all to second some of our time into a new central co-op (CoTech Services, or whatever)


The main issues were (IMHO):

  • Most co-ops didn’t have much/any spare cash
  • The complexity of one co-op paying the main bill and then invoicing all the other co-ops made the overhead too high

The latter could be solved by having a common entity with a bank account. The former could be solved by more co-operation (maybe)

I think the issue is that there’s a danger that free-rider syndrome will develop if we continue just to rely on the ad-hoc ‘generosity’ of some co-ops. E.g. Outlandish did most of the organising for the first Wortley Hall, Go Free Range and Agile did most of last years organising, and this year we’re not doing it.

It might be ODS’s turn? :slight_smile:


Alana’s overview is really interesting, thanks.

The billing overhead certainly sounds like a good point. Was the fund mainly used for the yearly retreats then? But yes, using the fund for the yearly retreats sounds like a good positive example though! (And the article mentions that to - I’d be interested in reading more on that, having been involved in some group [and not group] event organising in the past.)


There’s never been a main fund - that’s what’s being discussed here I believe.

For Wortley Hall one or more co-ops took on the work of organising (probably a couple of weeks work). They underwrote the cost of booking the venue, and then “sold tickets” to other co-ops at cost price (not including any cost for their labour).

They then had to invoice each other co-op for the price of the rooms they used, plus the shared facilitation costs and sundries.

It worked fine, but was a fairly big cost to the co-ops involved. A central fund where each co-op had to pay in enough to cover at least one person to attend might reduce the work and risk.

In terms of things that have actually been co-budgeted - they’ve been smaller, and more problematic due to the multiple payment thing. We raised about £2k for a CoTech party bar bill at Open Conference. But the results was that Go Free Range who kindly actually paid the bill and manged the co-budget had to send out and process 30 invoices, which isn’t practical when some are for £25.

Those smaller costs (e.g. paying for the Loomio, hosting the site, getting banners and flyers printed, sharing the cost of travel to an event to promote the network, etc.) would be most helped by co-budget or central funds.


I have an admin accout on now, hit me up (with an email address) if you want an invite so you can have a poke around :slight_smile: (current admins on it are me and Joaquim d’Souza).


I think the Enspiral model sounds fine (“Each venture defines how they wish to contribute to the network, financially and otherwise. This could be a flat monthly fee, a percentage of revenue, discounts on services, or any other contribution they wish to make. The basis of the Enspiral model is reciprocity and generosity - the expectation is to contribute at a level reasonable to the resources and stage of the venture.”)

Also I guess we’re talking about a fund which would keep the money within the (our) co-op movement, this is an important point. I’d humbly like to mention, in response to - Django Girls I’m sure is doing great work, but it’s a charity and therefore ‘external’ to the donors by definition.


Contributing what you want, when you want is pretty much what we have now, and it’s fine as far as it goes. However, as others have pointed out the lack of more significant collective funds is preventing some types of collaboration.

In terms of what it’s spent on, I guess that comes down to the process we choose for allocating funds - sociocracy, democracy, or cobudgeting. I guess buying a load of beer, buying a server, or renting a venue is not exactly keeping it in the movement but all seem like potentially good ideas.


I think there might be a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem here where because there have been very few successful co-budgets in CoTech and the admin overhead is high, people are less interested in the idea. Perhaps if we had a small central fund that demonstrated some success and was easy to access/administer it might generate some enthusiasm and willingness to pool more.

I wonder if we could get consensus for a small per-member fee to go to a central fund to try the idea out. This might be simpler to collect and calculate than something profit-based. The website says we have over 250 staff in total across our members, so if we raised £10/month for each person from our member co-ops that would give us £2500 a month to play with. That sounds like quite a healthy sum that could be used to pay for people’s time to do something meaningful.


Great idea @chrislowis - I think £120 per person per year sounds like a place to start.

A couple of questions to shape it into something we can vote on:

  1. Is it just members or FTE employees?
  2. Is it paid by the co-op on behalf of members, or paid by the members?
  3. Is it all or nothing (e.g. all individuals have to pay)?
  4. Who’ll hold the central funds?
  5. How will we vote on disbursing the funds? CoBudget? Loomio by consent? Loomio by majority?
  6. How will it be paid?
  7. What about co-ops that don’t want to pay?

My personal suggestions would be:

  1. FTE so if you have 5 members and 5 other FTE employees you pay £100 per month
  2. Paid by the co-op on behalf of members, but the members get named
  3. Yes - the co-op has to pay for each member
  4. One of the co-ops to keep overheads low
  5. CoBudget (but now it will be easy as the admin overhead of paying out the money will be dramatically reduced)
  6. In advance via invoice
  7. We create two levels of membership - “supporter members” who pay and “fledgeling members” who haven’t yet reached the point where they can contribute. The latter don’t vote on the disbursal of funds. Co-ops that can pay without creating hardship for their members but choose not to should not be members.

But I’d be up for trying most other combinations too.


Sounds like most of these questions and suggestions are things that would fit in with the ‘Governance and Membership’ hack that will be running at the Gathering in November.

Aaron is taking a lead on that and has set up a thread here, which I notice is looking a bit lonely. Would any of you be up for helping Aaron to build the ‘agenda’ for the hack? I think there are other elements to the hack (including on-boarding etc), but CoBudget, or indeed, a central fund, will be an essential element.


Just had a chat with Polly, and it would seem to make sense to converge these two things. A central fund based on membership subs seems to be a clear outcome and something that could be crafted into a clear proposal for members on the day.

Perhaps the Governance / Membership thread needs a rebrand to make it sound more engaging. “Make CoTech great again” perhaps??

In response to @harry and @chrislowis what you propose sounds both feasible and potentially very beneficial - the questions you outline, Harry, look like a good starting point from which to craft something. I’d also like to her from the Happy Dev folks, who seemed to suggest that they have some practical ideas that have worked for them.

CoTech Gathering: Governance and Membership hack

We’ve been into this idea at Animorph and would be happy go with something akin to what could hatch out of the recent suggestions by @chrislowis and @harry. There’s 4 members in our co-op. Looking forward to drafting it at the hack!


Hey y’all,

I’m double posting this from the events tread, sorry if that’s bad form!!

I’ve just created a CoBudget Bucket for the hack.

The idea is that this will go towards lunch on Thursday (I’ve booked a great pizza place round the corner), food and drinks on Thursday night, snacks throughout the day etc. I’ve not booked anywhere for lunch on Friday and was thinking we could play it by ear what people want to do, I imagine some might want to just crack on with things if they’re going to their respective home towns at the end of the day etc.

In terms of actually paying money, I’d rather that people bring some cash, so we don’t need to process a zillion tiny invoices. But I figured it’d be good to try out the CoBudget thing out, as a test of how it’s working.

I’ve not yet precisely costed things, but I imagine that after buying lunch on Thursday, dinner on Thursday, and allowing a bit for snacks etc in the space, there might not be tonnes over for booze - so byo also if you’re a thirsty-type.

Anyway, perhaps a test-case for how CoBudget is working!


Thanks Polly, we’re in!


Hi All, hopefully this is the right place to post. Is there any reason we are unable to vote on the ‘CoTech call on setting up the Fund’ in loomio? We also weren’t able to vote on the last poll around a CoTech fund proposal.


Are you maybe @nick48? I can definitely see ‘James Timbrell from Co-operative Web’ as undecided when it comes to the vote. By default all members of Loomio CoTech were invited… Poll equally invited all the members of Loomio CoTech. Perhaps we could add you if you share your e-mail? PM?