In the US there are many classifications (for legal and tax purposes) of a “cooperative”. I am in touch with some hubs who operate as agricultural and non-agricultural cooperatives (including our own lovely OFN-USA hub, Plowshares). I’ll add details to this thread as I gather more information and insight. In the meantime, here is an initial stab at what it might look like from a pricing perspective (since the most common question people ask is “what does it cost?” and up to now we have not had a good answer).
One idea would be to have member tiers based on sales and nonprofit status, and within each tier, there are members and non-members. Members pay a set rate per tier and can pay for their fees with volunteer hours. Here are the proposed tiers and tares:
Users get billed at the end of the month, so if a member is going to “pay” with volunteer hours, those have to be complete before the end of the month to offset their bill.
Should everyone pay an initial membership fee? Yes, how about this: after using the system for 3 months or $5k of sales (whichever comes first), the user can decide to go forward and pick a plan, and pay some nominal fee like $50 (for non-members we call it a “setup fee” and for members we call it a “membership with the setup fee waived”). They can only switch plans every six months unless we have a stern conversation with them.
Are customers members? For the purposes of OFNUSA, no, partly because we don’t have the capacity to to manage/bill it. Customers could still have a voice through their hub if their hub was cooperative of course.
How to handle tracking volunteer hours? For now, something simple like a combination of Toggl and a spreadsheet (or even just a Google form). In the future, Chairman of Strategic Partnerships @MSFutureFarm may help us integrate time bank systems, thereby elevating each of our initiatives for the good of the universe.