Re: paying $ for sweat equity
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 15:40:31 -0600
Perhaps I can contribute to your quest for What Works by what one might 
learn from what didn't work in our group. 

When some or all are volunteering, plus some are getting paid, there is a 
large potential for misunderstandings and grudges. If a certain amount of 
volunteer work is expected prior to, or in addition to, the paid work, 
that could be made explicit. 

Make sure everyone is in on the decision to pay anyone(s) for services. 
Normally we consider that if someone from a household is at a meeting, 
that that household is represented. One might be more careful to include 
all relevant household members, in this matter. A major uproar in our 
project came when a husband cheerfully volunteered lots of time, and 
years later we found his wife was stewing at us, and at someone else who 
had been contracted with to be paid for a task, because SHE thought her 
husband should have been out earning money instead of volunteering for 
the project. And she therefore objected very passionately, way after the 
fact, about another person being paid by us. 

Make a very business-like contract, and enforce it. We struggled with two 
members who were employed to supervise the installation of our 
infrastructure. They totally resisted giving us a time-and-task 
itemization of what they had done, yet expected us to pay them thousands 
of dollars. They probably did do at least as many hours as they were paid 
for, but the process was extremely aggravating.  

If there is not a clear advantage in having insiders do the paid work on 
a project, a really clear advantage, like it would cost half as much, or 
avoid a long education process to bring someone up to speed, then my 
advice is to use non-community members, and steer clear of the pitfalls. 
You have to live together for a long time!

Lynn Nadeau

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