Fri 20 Aug 2021 1:26PM

Platform 6 and Open Collective - a proposal

G Graham Public Seen by 58

Hi there Platform 6 members! We've been working for some while with the Open Collective online service - https://opencollective.com/platform6-coop - where are currently providing a "fiscal hosting" service to 22 collectives. Fiscal hosting means that we are essentially ;eating them use our bank account so that they can collect funds from their members and supporters, and use those funds to cover their costs, without needing a legal entity or a bank account. We see this as a really positive way in which Platform 6 can support and encourage new and emerging cooperative organisations, enabling them to focus on doing what they do without having the time and cost burden of needing to get all of that admin sorted out.

It's an experiment, and it seems to be one that people are finding useful. Over the period of time that we've been doing this, the folks who run Open Collective have changed how they do things, so that we can, for a little while now, provide this service with any cost to the collectives we host, and we've taken advantage of that to run the service without making any charge to these collectives - giving them the best possible opportunity to get themselves going.

And of course we want them to engage with Platform 6. We think the best way to do this is as members of the co-op. A key principle about membership of Platform 6 is that members make a financial contribution, however, so this proposal seeks to address that.

The plan is to talk to each of the collectives we host, confirming that our new approach is going to be as follows:

  • We'll provide hosting to collectives, free of charge, for 12 months. This gives them a good run at building a crowd of supporters and making the Open Collective platform work for them.

  • At the end of the 12 month window, we invite them to join Platform 6 as members, and to make a suitable financial contribution (the current organisational membership is I think £120 per year).

  • We think this approach would service two key purposes: to strengthen the relationship with those collectives that are working well, which in turn strengthens Platform 6; and also to act as a useful point at which those collectives that have not been successful, to rethink their strategy and either inject more energy into making their collective work, or alternatively to shut it down.

We're really interested in the thoughts of co-op members on this. Does it make sense, should we be doing something different, should we be looking at open collective more as a potential source of revenue, for example. what's your thinking on this? Comments and input are very welcome. We can hold a poll if that's useful.


Graham Fri 20 Aug 2021 1:34PM

There are a few thoughts to throw into the mix: we've a few legacy issues that we need to take into account, because when we started hosting collectives the pricing model was quite different, and some of those early collectives will have effectively made some small contributions early on, so we'll need to bear that in mind.

Some might find the £120 a year pretty steep, so maybe we need to be a bit relaxed about how much we charge? But to be fair to other members maybe we don't want to charge too little - maybe set £5 a month or £50 a year as the floor?

What about charging a membership fee at a percentage of the amount of funds that the collective generates? For larger ones like social.coop or perhaps mutualinterest.coop this could net P6 a bigger amount. Thoughts?

And of course perhaps this also begs questions about what is the value for members of being part of Platform 6/


adrian ashton Tue 24 Aug 2021 6:40AM

having a charge based on relative size would seem both pragmatic and equitable - and it's a model that's also not unknown in the history of the wider co-op movement in terms of garnering resources to support development (anyone else remember the 1% pledge?).


adrian ashton Tue 24 Aug 2021 6:42AM

oh - and your ending thought about benefits of membership: I've done work with various membership bodies in the past around this question, and form those experiences, it usually comes down to one of two things:

1) a hard business case that can be expressed in financial terms;

2) solidarity.