Deciding how to spend funds

We have some money with the OSI we’d like to spend on hiring someone to work on, since our main bottleneck right now is volunteer time. The introduction of money to a (currently) all-volunteer team brings with it a new challenge: how to decide who to pay, when we already have volunteers working for free?

We have reasonable ways to address this problem in this particular instance, since we have limited funds and clear priorities to spend them on. However, it would be nice to do this in a thoughtful, deliberate way, because:

  • Although we can minimize it, whatever we do here will set some precedent.
  • As a crowdfunding platform, our goal is to introduce this problem to other FLO projects, many of which are currently volunteer efforts.[1] So it would be nice if we had an answer, ourselves.

To do this, I propose that we:

  • Decide on values around spending $
  • Decide on process to decide where to spend that will uphold those values

For example, if we decide we value seniority / demonstrated commitment to the project, our process might look like: in order of seniority, offer each team member the opportunity to do a paid contract for snowdrift for half the [remaining] funds. At the end, split the remaining amount equally among anyone who has accepted (or, if nobody has, look for an outside contractor).

  1. Although we'll be starting with projects that already have systems in place to spend money. ↩︎

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I think this is somewhat related to getting our co-op governance in place, as in the operations will exist in some sense within that. And there are sociocracy concepts for how to make such decisions.

But I think this is an important topic we should fully grapple with.

I see it quite different to consider one-time funds versus ongoing. Each one-time expense is a one-time decision that can change later. Setting and changing ongoing budgets is distinct in several ways.

Personally, I lean toward a lowercase-C “communist” style from-each-by-ability-to-each-by-need attitude. The goal is to figure out where funds are most needed (where they will make a difference to someone in a core needs sense). If anyone has any issues reliably meeting real basic needs, we could start with the presumption that such a person will have more quantity and/or quality of energy to put into the project when those issues are addressed. So, I think that’s the starting point. Defining needs is still non-trivial of course.

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Okay. Got the same feedback from other people in the private discussion, so let’s continue the discussion about this one-off spend in that thread, and leave this thread open for ongoing discussion of how to handle the problem in general. I edited the title and will edit the body of the post to match in a bit.

1 Appreciation