Wed 27 Mar 2019 5:25PM

Should Social.coop switch its Open Collective "host" to Platform6?

NS Nathan Schneider Public Seen by 227

The way our finance platform Open Collective works, every "collective" (that's us) is part of a "host," which provides the legal and financial backend for the collectives that are part of it. We're currently hosted by OC's default host, the Open Collective Host, a US C corp. It charges a 5% fee, in addition to OC's 5% software fee.

We now have another option. Platform6 is a new UK-based co-op in our network that offers host services on Open Collective. This would enable Social.coop to become legally a cooperative, and to support the broader co-op movement more directly. Platform6 also apparently charges a smaller host fee: 2%.

Shall we explore transferring our host status? I would be happy to take the lead on this.


Matthew Cropp Wed 27 Mar 2019 6:16PM

That sounds like the right move all around to me! Thanks for taking the lead on this, Nathan!


Nathan Schneider Wed 27 Mar 2019 6:55PM

Maybe @graham2 @leosammallahti could add context?


Graham Tue 2 Apr 2019 10:45AM

Hi. Apologies for slow response on this one. We (Platform 6) would be very happy to act as host to social.coop. We are taking a softly-softly approach to rolling out the service (partly because everyone is just busy, and partly because we want to learn as we go, so working with social.coop would be great for us. We are charging just 2% so it might also be financially beneficial for social.coop to make the move. Our bank account operates in GBP rather than USD, so there may be a little downside in terms of currency conversion costs, but I'm guessing that at least some of social.coop's backers and expenses will be operating in currencies other than USD, so that cost may be smaller than we might imagine. We're certainly open to having a go at this in the spirit of cooperation. If it works for both parties then that's great, but if it doesn't for whatever reason I'm sure there will be some useful learning. I'm keen to build a cooperative presence on OC, not least because Platform 6 sees potential opportunities for outreach to the many open source communities that use the platform, and also because I think there is a real opportunity for OC itself to become a platform cooperative.


Graham Tue 2 Apr 2019 11:35AM

Might be useful to provide a little background as to what Platform 6 is all about. In essence it is an action-learning experiment in the open development of a new cooperative organisation which is seeking to:
• enable innovation
• co-op start-up incubation and support
• expansion of the community of people and organisations who are themselves doing cooperative development work, and
• open up new channels and models for the financing of the above.
All within a cooperative setting, employing a platform model, and leveraging digital tools and networks. Phew! So it's quite ambitious in its scope. It is very much a work in progress, and will continue to be - that's part of the rationale.

This is in the context where, as cooperators we are constantly struck by the dissonance created on the one hand by messaging that continuously presses home the massive global nature of the cooperative movement, and on the other by the near invisibility of the cooperative economy in the public consciousness, and the extremely low level of support that exists for anyone who wants to actually start a co-op. In the UK the number of cooperative development specialists is small and growing smaller as people retire. At the same time there is very little funding available for cooperative development. As a movement it seems we have not yet learned that we need to invest in the next generation. Platform 6 is an attempt to tackle some of these issues. Inspired in part by https://solidfund.coop which is a commons fund for worker co-ops, and in part by the energy that we've seen in the nascent 'platform co-op' sector, and my own long-term interest in the nexus of cooperation and digital. We are keen to work with the social.coop community, not least because of common interests. We had a board meeting yesterday and the potential social.coop hook-up was discussed. We'd like to offer social.coop membership of Platform 6 if the decision to use our OC host is positive.


Nathan Schneider Tue 2 Apr 2019 4:35PM

Thanks for sharing all this! Is there a membership fee, @graham2?

Also, are any other co-ops using your hosting at Open Collective?


Graham Tue 2 Apr 2019 5:00PM

Hi Nathan. Good questions.
There is a membership fee, but we would waive this in the case of social.coop, using the revenue from the Open Collective hosting in its stead (we estimate that to be about the same).
Are any other co-ops using our service? Not yet. We are talking to a few about the possibility, but we don't want to market the thing particularly until we've given it a good run with a very small group who are happy to work with us and have a good degree of comfort that we know what will be involved in terms of workloads as we grow it.


Erik Moeller Sat 6 Apr 2019 6:25PM

I would caution that social.coop likely has a significant number of supporters who are happy to continue to pay the fee via OpenCollective, but who will not make the effort to migrate if we force a migration to a new service. The loss of such "sympathizer" accounts could more than offset whatever cost savings we gain from the migration.

If this kind of switch is to happen, I would strongly recommend keeping OpenCollective around and treating the new platform as the new "primary", at least for a very long grace period (think 1 year+) with repeated pings to folks who are still on OC.


Matthew Cropp Sat 6 Apr 2019 6:38PM

My hope, if we do this, would be that we would keep using OC, and the change would be mostly "under the hood" from a user perspective (changing out fiscal sponsor).


Nathan Schneider Sun 7 Apr 2019 9:32PM

Yes, it would be under the hood. No significant changes in operations. Just a lower overhead cost and redirecting that fee from OC to a fellow cooperative.


Matt Noyes Tue 9 Apr 2019 5:54PM

To be clear - as a member would I have to re-register, or renew my financial contribution/bank info (monthly contrib)? If so, would we risk losing people?


Matthew Cropp Tue 9 Apr 2019 7:56PM

@mattnoyes My impression from the conversation thus-far is little to nothing would change from the subscriber-end.


Graham Sun 7 Apr 2019 1:55PM

Hi @erikmoeller5 @matthewcropp As far as I'm aware having discussed this with Pia at OC, the migration is transparent as far as the end-user members/supporters are concerned. As Matt says, it's largely an 'under the hood' change. Any funds in the host's bank account will need to be manually transferred to the new host's account, and OC are happy to assist in that (they will already have our bank account details on record) so the people supporting social.coop don't need to do anything.


Nathan Schneider Sun 7 Apr 2019 9:36PM

Great. I just wrote to Alanna at OC about how the process works. Based on that, I'll make a formal proposal to the working group, and then the main group.


Nathan Schneider Mon 8 Apr 2019 3:36AM

Okay, I just got a response from Alanna at Open Collective about how this process works:

To switch hosts, you need to bring your Collective to $0 balance, and then it's easy. You go to 'edit collective' > fiscal host > remove your current host > add platform6 > host admin approves > done.

You can invoice out the whole amount to actually pay people/expenses, or just get someone to hold the funds and then put them back into the Collective when you've switched over. We should be able to do that with zero fees (except payment processor fees). If the Platform6 host admin isn't sure how to do any of this, put them in touch with me.

All your members' recurring subscriptions will be unaffected and they don't need to take any action.

Seems like the hard part is figuring out someone to hold the funds during the process. I just asked Alanna about details of fees for that, if OC or P6 were to manage the process.

@graham2 is P6 on board for moving forward on this?


Graham Mon 8 Apr 2019 4:08AM

We have a board meeting later today where I can re-confirm our desire to actively support this move, and also consider any options for how to we might be able to facilitate moving the funds at lowest cost.


Nathan Schneider Mon 8 Apr 2019 4:57PM

More from Alanna:

Normally, we get someone from the Collective to hold the funds, and we aren't usually able to transfer directly from host to host as it can cause a bit of an admin headache. If you need to transfer the funds direct to the new host, as opposed to using them up on expenses as a way to zero out the balance or having an individual hold them and then put them back, I can look into what the options are.

For payment processor fees, if the transfer is within the US and we do a manual payment, Paypal won't charge fees. But Platform6 in UK based, meaning an international transfer. In that case, we can transfer using bank wire, Paypal, Payoneer, or Transferwise, and they all have different fees.

Open Collective doesn't charge any platform fees for money going out. After changing hosts, if you put funds back in through the front door (via credit card) the 5% platform fee + stripe fees will be applied automatically. If you do a manual transfer (any way other than credit card), whether it's us sending the funds or you holding and transferring them to Platform6, it's up to them whether they charge a fee on the transaction.


Nathan Schneider Mon 8 Apr 2019 4:58PM

Thanks, @graham2, let us know how it goes. It seems like the main issue is the international wire transfer. Have a good board meeting!


Graham Mon 8 Apr 2019 5:40PM

Hi again. Yes, moving the funds that are sitting in the OC host account seems to be the main sticking point. One option that we thought might work on this is that at an agreed point in time Platform 6 could submit an invoice to social.coop for the balance in your account. Upon approval those funds could then be paid to the Platform 6 Paypal account, and from there we could easily move that money into our bank account. Paypal would charge a fee for that transaction of course, and there would be some cost for the conversion from USD to GBP, but this might be the simplest route.
Although Alanna seems to be suggesting (not sure) that we could go down this route but not use Paypal and OC could make the transfer manually using Transferwise or similar, which is probably cheaper.

The alternative is that perhaps one of your core contributors claims the money as an expense. It would still then be paid out via Paypal, so they still take their slice, and the money is then moved into a US bank account, from where you then need to move it to our UK account. I don't know what US banks charge for international transfers. Some countries have really low fees on this type of stuff, while others can be quite costly. But that route feels relatively more expensive. Again, I'm unclear as to whether Alanna is offering to make a manual payment or not.

Transferwise, https://transferwise.com/ - which I've used to send euros to suppliers in the eurozone, is pretty good and quite low cost. Their website suggests that moving $6500 (which is roughly what OC shows as your current balance) to a GBP account will cost $30.51 and they suggest that this is up to $213 cheaper than the average bank.

We wouldn't charge any fees for facilitating any of this on the assumption we don't meet any costs in the process (it is possible that our bank might want to charge a fee, but I'll check that out) and if the funds are paid directly into our account rather than through the OC front door there wouldn't be any Stripe fees at that point.
Hope this helps.
The whole thing makes crypto look increasingly attractive!


Nathan Schneider Tue 9 Apr 2019 5:40PM

Okay, it sounds like the Transferwise approach is probably best. So in my proposal I'll say that the total cost of the transfer would be under $50, probably close to $30. Does that sound correct to you? Just want to confirm before I draft the proposal.


Graham Tue 9 Apr 2019 5:46PM

On the assumption that you can get the funds into Transferwise (i.e.either direct from OC's account or from one of your core team's accounts) at no cost to you, then it sounds do-able.


Poll Created Sat 20 Apr 2019 3:54AM

What do you think of this draft agreement with Platform 6? Closed Tue 23 Apr 2019 3:02AM

by Nathan Schneider Tue 23 Apr 2019 3:11AM

We still have yet to finalize this language. We'll continue working with P6 friends to find language we're all comfortable with.

I've drafted an agreement for our "host" relationships with Platform 6.

What do you think? Add comments here. (The "yes" or "no" is just to get you to participate in commenting. Not ready for a proposal yet.)


Results Option Voters
Yes 3 G MC MN
No 0  
Undecided 3 NS TB LS

3 of 6 people have voted (50%)


Matt Noyes
Sat 20 Apr 2019 5:32AM

Yes/No is not a good format for this poll. Need agree, disagree, abstain... right?


Matthew Cropp
Sat 20 Apr 2019 8:28PM

Simple and clear; I like it. Thanks for your work on this, Nathan!


Mon 22 Apr 2019 10:10AM

From the Platform 6 perspective, whilst we are very supportive of this initiative, it's fair to say that there is concern about the inclusion of the idea of P6 being a "legal host", and how that might be interpreted. We certainly can't and won't be held legally responsible for any action or inaction on the part of social.coop. We see this partnership as P6 acting as a 'fiscal host' to use OC language, and we'll be keen to work hard at making that mutually beneficial. And open to building on that


Matt Noyes
Mon 22 Apr 2019 8:54PM

Yes/No is not a good format for this poll. Need agree, disagree, abstain... right?


Matthew Cropp Sat 20 Apr 2019 8:29PM

To @mattnoyes' comment, @ntnsndr is this vote a "feedback" round prior to putting it forward for binding adoption? In that case, check poll makes sense, though wording could be more clear.


Nathan Schneider Sat 20 Apr 2019 9:22PM

That's right, Matt. I just added some additional language to the proposal for clarity.


Matt Noyes Sun 21 Apr 2019 3:12AM

So, this is like asking "any objections?"
Would it make sense to propose edits directly on the doc?


Nathan Schneider Sun 21 Apr 2019 11:05PM

The idea is that people could propose edits in the comment field of the proposal. Objections, suggestions, whatever. It's just an informal way of garnering input without making it look like a formal proposal at this stage. Do you have any suggestions?


Matt Noyes Mon 22 Apr 2019 9:17PM

Made a couple suggested edits on the doc. Thanks for moving this forward.


Nathan Schneider Mon 22 Apr 2019 4:08PM

@graham2 thanks for this feedback. I'm simply trying to reflect the legal reality in clear fashion. Somebody must hold liability for Social.coop activities—either Social.coop members individually or the legal entity that acts as a container for those activities. There are also legal limits on what our options are.

Here are some examples of fiscal sponsorship agreements among nonprofits. Do you know of UK equivalents?


Nathan Schneider Tue 23 Apr 2019 3:14AM

I just adjusted the draft to address @graham2's concerns about liability and @mattnoyes's edit as well. See here. Further thoughts?


Matthew Cropp Wed 24 Apr 2019 2:03AM

Looks good to me!


Graham Thu 9 May 2019 10:23AM

Hi. Apologies for the silence at our end on this in recent days. We've been investing a little time to dig into the intricacies of multicurrency and cross-border transactions. I'm hopeful that by the end of the day today I will actually have the detail on this. In brief, as I currently understand Paypal's service, they charge both for currency conversion and what they call cross-border payments. These charges aren't huge, but they are there, and I'm trying to work out who gets charged (Platform 6 as the sender or the recipient) and when, so that we can be clear on what happens. You folks may have already come across this; if so please share any insights you've gained. Other than this I think we are good to go. Thanks for your patience.


Nathan Schneider Mon 20 Jan 2020 10:27PM

@Graham @Matthew Cropp @Matt Noyes I just heard from Alanna at Open Collective, and they need to move us off our current "host" as they're shutting it down. Can we complete the move over to Platform 6? I'll ask about the timeline and whether there are other options.


Matt Noyes Mon 20 Jan 2020 10:48PM

It seems like the language was finalized but this was never put to a vote of the membership. Is that right?


Graham Mon 20 Jan 2020 11:52PM

Hi folks. My apologies - I let this fall of my to-do list, partly because it was so difficult to make sense of Paypal’s charges (which hasn’t changed). I think we’re still up for making this happen, especially if we can make payouts without using Paypal. How much time before OC shut down their host?


Matthew Cropp Tue 21 Jan 2020 2:58AM

I've been talking about getting Cooperative Development Institute (in the US) set up as a fiscal host for another project, so if Platform 6 is administratively a bridge too far, this could be the kick in the pants for me to see about getting that over the finish line. It'd be likewise good to know the time-frame.


Matt Noyes Tue 21 Jan 2020 3:00AM

GEO has acted as fiscal sponsor for co-ops, too, if more options are needed.


Matthew Cropp Tue 21 Jan 2020 3:01AM

That would be a great option (probably better than CDI), given that GEO is active on Social.coop, and the little bit of revenue would make a meaningful difference for them.


Nathan Schneider Tue 21 Jan 2020 4:54PM

Thanks, friends. I like the GEO option, too. Is GEO set up on Open Collective, @Matt Noyes? And @Graham, it looks like we have a few weeks to do the transition.

Either option would be great in my book. I suspect P6 and GEO are better than CDI, as the former are both actively involved, as @Matthew Cropp says.


Matt Noyes Tue 21 Jan 2020 7:27PM

What is the timeline here? The fiscal sponsor would not be GEO, but the Ecological Democracy Institute of North America (EDINA).


Nathan Schneider Wed 22 Jan 2020 4:27PM

We'd need to settle this within a few weeks.

Structurally, P6 might be preferable then, since it is a cooperative.


Matthew Cropp Wed 22 Jan 2020 4:55PM

It sounds like GEO/EDINA will have a fiscal sponsorship meeting on the 29th, so if we could have a go/no-go from P6 before then, we could aim to have a proposal to be on the agenda for that meeting. @Graham, is that timeline workable for P6?


Nathan Schneider Tue 28 Jan 2020 5:47PM

Update: Open Collective will not be able to host us going forward. So we do need to move forward on this. Any word, @Graham @Matt Noyes ?


Matt Noyes Tue 28 Jan 2020 10:56PM

I think @Matthew Cropp has it right. Ball is currrently in P6 court. If there were a proposal from Social.Coop (along the lines of the proposal to P6), it could be discussed at the GEO meeting tomorrow. If a proposal is not ready, it would be good to know what is the exact timeline.


Leo Sammallahti Wed 29 Jan 2020 1:20AM

I messaged Graham and other P6 people in P6 slack. Will update you before the GEO meeting @Matt Noyes!


Graham Wed 29 Jan 2020 11:17AM

We - Platform 6 Development Co-operative Limited - https://platform6.coop - are up for doing this on the basis that we both go into the arrangement with the approach that we'll be open and transparent about how it's working, and willing to co-operate to to ensure that the arrangement is mutually effective.

I don't think I'm saying anything that I've not previously mentioned earlier in this discussion: our OC operation is currently tied to our £ sterling bank account, so monies coming in via Stripe get converted to sterling (at Stripe's mid-market rates), and payments going out via Paypal into other currencies and countries are subject to Paypal's fees. We are looking at alternative accounts that can offer multi-currency options as that may prove to be a good way to go to minimise operating costs, and we're willing to continue to explore this and other options that might help us work even better together.

As a fiscal host our commission rate is currently set at just 2% (I think the default hosts and most others are at 5%), as we're aiming to be low cost. We're not seeking to make this a profitable activity particularly, but it does come with costs and some admin overhead and we don't want to lose money on it either, so we may need to adjust our rate over time once we have some useful data to help us understand what's happening in practice. Any such modifications would be considered in cooperation with the collectives that we are hosting.

So our goal here is to be supportive, to enable social.coop and similar cooperative projects to thrive, and to cooperate for mutual benefit and success. If the social.coop folks are up for going into the arrangement on an equally open-handed basis I believe that we can work together to achieve successful outcomes, and I look forward to working with you all to make this happen. We're also excited by the potential of this practical international co-operation, and the further opportunities that it might bring.


Poll Created Wed 29 Jan 2020 4:45PM

URGENT: Begin the process of moving to Platform6.coop as Social.coop's fiscal host Closed Sat 1 Feb 2020 4:02PM

by Nathan Schneider Sun 2 Feb 2020 10:12PM

We appear to be prepared to proceed on this if possible. @Graham, what remains to be determined on P6's end?

Open Collective has informed us our current OC-managed fiscal host is shutting down, so we need a new legal entity to host Social.coop. A UK cooperative with members among our membership, Platform6.coop, has [offered](https://www.loomio.org/d/U7uvGdqF/should-social-coop-switch-its-open-collective-host-to-platform6-/51) to host us. This would result in more closely aligning Social.coop with the cooperative movement and make us part of a legal co-op.

A [draft agreement](https://git.coop/social.coop/general/-/wikis/Partnership-with-Platform-6) has already been started. This proposal is to gain agreement among the Finance Working Group to direct our energy toward this process with Platform6. A final agreement with Platform6 should be passed both here and before the full membership before we proceed with the transition.

This shouldn't prevent continuing efforts to explore secondary options, such as hosting with Grassroots Economic Organizing, but the passage of this proposal signals that Platform6 is our first choice.

This proposal is marked URGENT because we are running out of time before OC shuts our legal host down. It will stand for 3 days rather than the usual 6.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 100.0% 5 NS MC MN LS ES
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 0  

5 of 5 people have voted (100%)


Nathan Schneider Mon 3 Feb 2020 10:53PM

@Graham just pinging you. Is there anything we need to finalize before we bring this decision to the main Social.coop group? Is P6 on board?


Graham Sun 9 Feb 2020 5:02PM

Hi. Apologies for not being here. Had a hectic few days. Let's go! As I recall the first thing you need to do is remove the funds from your collective and pay them over to P6, then OC can move the collective to our host, and we can re-add the funds. As I recall Alanna offered assistance?


Nathan Schneider Sat 9 May 2020 4:01PM

I'm thrilled to announce that we have now officially transferred our fiscal host on Open Collective to Platform 6, thanks to @Graham. Social.coop is now legally part of a cooperative!