Loomio

General meeting, achievements so far and the future visions for Mutual Interest

LS
Leo Sammallahti Public Seen by 19

Finances


Up to this point, for practical reasons, we have paid our writers from my pocket - not a penny of the money our members have contributed has been spent. I have decided that I will not be asking Mutual Interest to pay this money back to me, meaning that the current £2440 of funds will be entirely Mutual Interests. In other words, Mutual Interest has £2440 we (not me but we!) can choose to spend on whatever we want.

Some key figures:

  • The pre-launch goal was to reach around 15 member-subscribers at this point. We have reached 75. The concept works. When we put out articles, people join as members.

  • Our current revenue stands at £240/month, and also, we have 8 members who make their donations annually. The monthly revenue has grown every month except one.

  • Open Collective and Platform6 will scrap all their transaction fees, which means that a larger share of payments will go to Mutual Interest.

  • I have purchased (with my own money) a lifetime subscription to Loomio for Mutual Interest, meaning that Loomio (which used to cost a modest $1/year/user) will no longer be charging us anything ever. It also gives us access to some extra features.

Message From The Editors

Leo: The support and commitment that Mutual Interest has received has surpassed all my expectations and is one of the most exciting projects I have ever had the fortune to participate in. However, I myself have not committed Mutual Interest would deserve in terms of communicating with the writers and members more broadly, something I promise to change and improve on in the future. Too often it has taken too long for me to reply and often have not reacted at all to some good ideas members have proposed. Personally, the most difficult task for me has been refusing to publish article pitches from people I personally like. It has been very hard for me on an emotional level to tell someone who has supported Mutual Interest, that although their article is good, it does not fit with the focus and style of Mutual Interest.

Iwan:
I am very proud of the work I have done with Mutual Interest this year and think the publication is doing exceptionally well so would like to thank all our members for their support. Firstly, I'd Like to thank Leo for his enormous financial generosity and with this and the success we have had I think next year promises huge potential, I echo his points and look forward to working with you all on the activities outlined in this agenda. Similar to Leo I wish I could have committed more time to the project but it has been tricky with other projects and work but I hope my editing has been of standard for our writers. I think, and others have said to me, the quality of writing in the publication remains incredibly high and all credit to our writers for their great content in that. I hope we can continue to grow MI and look forward to the active collaboration of our members to improve the co-operative.

Annual General Meeting


The poll below will decide our annual general meeting - we made a mistake in the earlier poll in not letting all the members know about the date 2 weeks in advance with an email - our bad and we apologise!

Here are some things in the agenda of the general meeting, and let us know in the comment below if there are other items you would like to be discussed there.

We will soon have a poll where everyone interested can volunteer for the board of directors and the working groups.

The Board Of Directors


We will have a board of directors, with equal numbers of directors from writer-members as well as reader-members. We can expand the size of the board to include as many people as possible - however, if there are more volunteers than there are positions, there will be an election for the positions. This might be the case if we find a smaller number of interested writer members than we do reader members, simply because there are a smaller number of writer members.

The board nominates the editorial team and has other responsibilities which I will be described in more detail in the comments soon.

The board will have a call once a month. The calls might be a very quick routine check, but we recommend directors save at least one hour for the call. We also hope that directors can commit to pursuing other tasks decided and delegated democratically in the board meetings.

We do not require any expertise or experience for these positions, just enthusiasm.


Working Groups


Our new Loomio subscription allows us to set up sub-groups. I propose to form three working groups. I would be always available to help the Working Groups, but they would be autonomous in the sense that by default, they can make decisions without having to ask for permission from the board, except for some decisions that need either member or board approval (such as asking for funding or doing a major update of the website). Members can join multiple working groups.

It would be good if all the working groups would have at least one board member involved, that could report back the activities in the monthly board meeting calls.

The three working groups I propose (and we can set up more if someone wants!) would be the following:


1. Website Improvement Working Group


I propose that of the £2400 reserves, £600 or more would be allocated to the Website Improvement Working Group. In exchange the working group would:

  • Within a week come up with a series of small improvements to the site that could be implemented immediately.

  • Within a month come up with at least three new options for redesigns of the site that could be put on a vote open for all members to choose their favorite.

The working group would decide how the money is distributed and could apply for more funding. The application for more funding would have to be approved in a Loomio vote that includes and invites all members to participate.

2. Social Media Outreach Group


I propose that of the £2400 reserves, £100 would be allocated to the Website Improvement Working Group. In exchange the working group would:

Group. In exchange the working group would:

  • Create a document of 100 Facebook pages we should approach and ask them to share our articles.

  • Create a document of 100 Twitter accounts we should approach and ask them to share our articles.

The working group would decide how the money is distributed and could apply for more funding.

It would also include systematically posting our content on Reddit, which requires coordination of numerous Reddit accounts since it’s against Reddit's etiquette for a single account to post a single website too often. The working group would collect a group of Reddit users who would be able to help us share our content on Reddit.

3. Cooperation Between Cooperatives Working Group


This group would help find opportunities to cooperate with other cooperatives. It would have no budget.

More information about possibilities for this is listed in the “Future Visions” chapter.


Future Visions


1. Community Ownership Fund

The UK government has launched a £160 million Community Ownership Fund that provides matched funding to community share offers. Community shares are financial securities that cooperatives can issue to crowdfund small investments. The COF provides matched investment per cooperative to a maximum of £250,000, which means that there will be more than 640 community share offerings.

The most obvious way for Mutual Interest to get involved is to write articles about cooperative crowdfunding campaigns.

Covering these share offerings would provide us with regular content that enables readers to not just be more informed, but also get more involved by investing or otherwise supporting these campaigns.

The benefit for Mutual Interest can however be much greater. Instead of paying the writer, Mutual Interest could use the payment to invest in the cooperative whose community share offer is promoted in the article. In other words, instead of paying the writer £50, Mutual Interest would invest £50 into the community share offer. Mutual Interest would not lose the money by paying it to someone - it would be invested and we would gain it back with a return (community share offerings have an average of 4.9% annual return).

It’s also worth noting that having these cooperatives share our articles on their social media will mean they will reach an audience that is probably very receptive to the idea of joining cooperatives.

2. Global writership


We have already had a writer from Indonesia and Nigeria. Finding more writers from lower-income countries should be one of our goals for the future. The coverage could especially focus on cooperatives around the world with unique business models. For example, if the first cooperatively owned online alternative to a well-known app or an online marketplace is launched in India, Mutual Interest could approach the founders to write an article about it.

The pay is relatively greater in a low-income country - compared to a UK-based writer, it’s three times bigger for someone in a country where income is one-third of the UK.

If there are crowdfunding campaigns in those countries that people in wealthier countries can donate to, the article can benefit the campaign not just in the form of payment they receive from it, but also through additional funding they get from readers who decide to contribute as a result of reading the article. 

Mutual Interest can become a fund that pays for people with new, cool ideas for cooperatives in low-income countries if they write an article describing the idea for our readers. It’s not aid - they write us an article and we pay them for it the same way as with any other writer from any other country.

We have had the communications director of the association of Indian cooperatives contact us and would be interested in writing an article for us. If anyone has ideas on how to reach out more to lower-income countries don't hesitate to get involved.

3. Sports and culture section


We could in the future have a section for both Sports and Culture.

The primary focus at the beginning for the sports section could focus on fan owned football clubs.

The culture section could focus on Mutual Interest members reviewing and recommending music in Ampled and Resonate, both music industry cooperatives. There could be some sort of democratic process by which all Mutual Interest members could submit and vote on which songs/albums/artists are recommended, and perhaps even annual “music awards”.

4. Multimedia

  • Podcast
    There are few ideas for a podcast:

    • Platform cooperative podcast - each episode presents a new platform cooperative. I have registered a YouTube channel by the name “Platform Cooperative Podcast” in case we want to pursue this path.

    • Cooperative investment podcast - each episode presents an interview of a new cooperative crowdfunding campaign.

  • Video
    We could allow all platform cooperatives interviewed in the podcast to make a 5-minute video pitch that would be uploaded to our YouTube channel. We could also allow the venture to upload another, longer video if they so wish.

5. Democratic interviews


We already have a unique democratic way to distribute our funds using participatory budgeting.

Perhaps we could try to implement something similar and unique also for interviews.

For example, if we are interviewing a platform cooperative for a new podcast episode or a new community share offering for a new article, we could ask all our readers across different social media platforms to suggest questions. We would then pool all the questions together and have a vote, where members could distribute 20 points between the questions. The questions receiving the most votes would be asked in the interview.

6. Members For Cooperation


Together with two Mutual Interest members Iwan Doherty and Christian Shaw, we have recently launched Members4Cooperation. It’s a global network that seeks to organise within cooperatives to increase cooperation between cooperatives. A Mutual Interest article describing the organisation can be found here.

One of the key parts of M4C is the email list of supporters, which currently has around 110 subscribers. We can form a mutually beneficial relationship with M4C - Mutual Interest can produce articles relevant to M4C, and M4C can share a link to those articles to its email list subscribers.

In our principles, the following is mentioned:
“We seek to revitalise democracy beyond just the state. Elections in trade unions and co-operatives, such as credit unions, are democratic mechanisms that are under-utilised due to media neglect. We are here to change that.”

Members4Cooperation perfectly aligns with this mission, and will hopefully provide a strong mutually beneficial relationship with us.

7. Co-op Coupons

Co-op Coupons is a soon-to-be-launched website for coupons, vouchers, and gift cards that can be used only in cooperatives. The site itself is a cooperative owned by users who commit to buying gift cards for others regularly.

In the beginning, we will be handing out £5 gift cards for people who fill a short questionnaire and subscribe to the Co-op Coupons email newsletter. The questionnaire is more detailed than with Members4Cooperation but also includes all the questions asked from people who subscribe to the Members4Cooperation email list. The gift card can be used to buy coffee, music, and a few other goods and services online from cooperatives.

The email newsletter will be sent out regularly and will include articles about cooperatives chosen by Co-op Coupons members. We expect that many of those articles will be from Mutual Interest, meaning that it will help us gain more readers.

I will be giving one £5 gift card to every Mutual Interest member. It will be an additional incentive to join us.

LS

Leo Sammallahti started a time poll Thu 8 Apr

Setting the date for the general meeting Closed Fri 16 Apr

We apologise for having to do the poll again - we must notify all our members about the general meeting 2 weeks in advance with an email and didn't realise that until that was too late. We are now better informed about the technicalities of setting up the meeting and will be having it soon.

Also, check the post above to see more details about the general meeting and feel free to comment!

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LS

Leo Sammallahti Thu 8 Apr

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Stephen Owen Thu 8 Apr

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Jonathan Bean Thu 8 Apr

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Iwan Doherty Thu 8 Apr

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Jonny Denfhy Thu 8 Apr

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George Hayes Thu 8 Apr

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mike_hales Thu 8 Apr

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James Fielding Thu 8 Apr

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Sam Peters Thu 8 Apr

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Jonny Denfhy Sat 10 Apr

Hello folks,

I just wanted to say thank you for all your work Leo and Iwan with this project and your financial investment too.

I think all the proposals here are fantastic and I can't wait for us to have the AGM and get going with MI.