Mon 9 Apr 2018 10:02AM

Platform Co-op Solid Fund

ST Sam Toland Public Seen by 378

social.coop facilitators - please feel free to move this somewhere more appropriate!

I wanted to start a brief discussion about the idea of starting a Platform Co-op version of Solid Fund - the innovative solidarity fund set up by the UK worker co-op movement.

What is Solid Fund

It is a fund were worker co-ops and worker co-operators make monthly contributions (from as little as £1 a month) and the members of the fund decide democratically were to spending the capital.

To date is has focused primarily on making gratis payments to support awareness events, trainings, travel and small grants for in need worker co-ops.

There are lots of ideas about how to refine / expand this - but at present it is focused on the above.

There is current about £71,000 in the fund, with a further 30/40k raised and disbursed already.

What is its legal status etc.

It currently operates on much the same basis as social.coop does now. There are bye-laws that are upheld on an honour system, there are co-ordinators who are well respected members of the worker co-op movement in the UK and the money itself is held in trust by a co-operative.

In short - they are not legally incorporated at present.

What would a Platform Co-op Solid Fund look like?

I can imagine a platform co-op solid fund, operating on a similar basis - with bye-laws, well respected co-operators in the field (maybe the IOO, platform co-op consortium etc.) and an institution holds the accrued capital in trust.

We the members would then be able to propose what to spend the money on.

Ideally we would stick with the kind of purposes (sponsoring events, training etc.) that Solid Fund does.

Why wouldn't we want to start bigger - something like an investment club for example?

It is a lot more complex, will likely require a professional team and legal incorporation and finally... why not crawl before we walk. :)

Is there a proposal coming? :)

In the spirit of the best kind of consensus decision-making, I propose that we spend some time talking about this, working out the details etc. and maybe return to a proposal in the next few weeks/months.

I do however think it could be worth talking about committing funds to starting this up (though this will probably prompt a discussion about spending our funds on remunerating volunteer time on social.coop - which is a conversation I would like to have too! :) )

Possible future proposal
- Commit a proportion of existing social.coop fund on establishing a #platformcoop solid fund
- Commit a proportion of existing social.coop fund to remunerating a project manager to set up a #platformcoop solid fund.


Neville Park Mon 9 Apr 2018 3:11PM

This is interesting! I'd definitely like to learn more about it.


Robert Benjamin Mon 9 Apr 2018 4:28PM

Love where you are going with this. This does seem like it could be part (pre or post) overall budget conversation that is going to take place on the 16th. One of the things I was going to propose is to re-organize the way that the sliding scale membership fee is presented and allocated. Right now it all goes into the general operations fund but there isn't a predetermined allocation budget.

What could be helpful for this initiative and for others is to change the base level of monthly membership to a set number like $3 with an optional monthly support donations in $1 increments for a series of initiatives that have been approved by members. For instance one could be to support Mastodon FOSS development. Another could be social.coop new functionality development. Another could be to go towards a Solid Fund that supports the proliferation and development of other #platformcoop instances across the fediverse. And so on. This way there would be no need to create another governance entity and it would be much more effective than supporting these initiatives individually.

This of course should be contingent on capturing the true costs of administering and managing the social.coop platform and creating a detailed operating budget that includes needed allocations to insure the long term health and growth of the instance.


Michele Kipiel Mon 9 Apr 2018 4:57PM

I'm loving every letter of your post :D Absolutely yes, let's make this happen,


Edward L Platt Mon 9 Apr 2018 7:07PM

A platform cooperative fund is an exciting idea. Is it within the scope of social.coop ( http://social.coop ) though? A cooperatively run social media instance (or set of instances) is a pretty large undertaking by itself, and adding to that could stretch some members a bit thin. Conversely, there may be people really excited to work on such a fund who have already found a social media home on another instance. Perhaps if there is enough momentum for such a fund, it could be organized separately, but with social.coop ( http://social.coop ) as one of its initial projects?


Robert Benjamin Thu 12 Apr 2018 2:10AM

Where ever it ends up I'd be down to participate. I can see it being manageable as a working group under the social.coop umbrella if it was specifically focused on spreading the cooperative governance model through the fediverse and there was an optional contribution that one could choose as part your membership and was allocated to the fund.


Nathan Schneider Thu 12 Apr 2018 3:01AM

This could also work in the framework of this US model: http://thecp.coop/


Matthew Cropp Thu 12 Apr 2018 3:03AM

Time to revive the "Platform Co-op Investment Club" project?


Sam Toland Thu 12 Apr 2018 7:05AM

@ntnsndr + @matthewcropp the Solid Fund model is very different from the investment club model (which is very worthwhile and worth discussing).

It isn't intended to generate a surplus through its activities, and at present only provides gratis payments based on decisions by the group.

It therefore has very little overheads, and no regulatory burden to deal with or manage.

There are discussions there for it to shift towards something more formal, that could make loans or investments - but a lot of members are pushing back against that as they value the informal nature of the solid fund (i.e little bureaucracy)


Matthew Cropp Thu 12 Apr 2018 5:14PM

That makes sense, and having the members not having a claim on the assets does minimize the bureaucratic overhead, for sure, though also limits the scale to members' giftable capital vs. investable capital. The former is where our group is at right now, so seems like it would be less of a leap than the investment club structure.

Is the governance 1 member 1 vote, or is it more of a cobudget type thing where you can fund projects with your 'share' of the contributions?


Sam Toland Thu 12 Apr 2018 5:46PM

They're one member, one vote.

Here is there operating manual (still a living document) http://s.coop/solidfundmanual


Robert Benjamin Thu 12 Apr 2018 7:12PM

Thanks for sharing. Besides the finance aspect there is a ton of great governance stuff in that document. This is exciting. Specifically (for me) what social.coop is doing along with with overall Mastodon activity has providing the clearest vision of a realization of potential of the #platformcoop movement at scale I've had in while. Spinning up a voluntary ultra focused "Mastodon Coop Solid Fund" inside of social.coop could be the easiest implementation and driver. It could provide the small amount of incentive along with other types of support (ie boiler plate governance documentation) needed for many other instances across the fediverse to go cooperative. Especially new marketplace instances of which I haven't seen yet.

Currently working on drawing up a new membership fee and allocation budget plan that will be floated inside of the Finance working group and which will include a process to support initiatives like this as well as provide for operational sustainability.


Michele Kipiel Thu 12 Apr 2018 7:25PM

It could provide the small amount of incentive along with other types of support (ie boiler plat governance documentation) needed for many other instances across fediverse to go cooperative.

I believe this is the most important thing social.coop can achieve: to lead by example.