Voluntary donations vs LCD
From: Lynn Nadeau (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 00:00:50 -0700 (MST)
One of the ways we handle money inequalities among the 20 families at 
RoseWind Cohousing is the use of donations. 

Something is seen as desirable. It costs more than the group is willing 
to approve as an equally-divided assessment. Anonymously, or 
confidentially, we determine if there are people who would donate money 
towards the project, and how much. The total is reported, and then we can 
reconsider the matter, knowing if there is "extra" money available. No 
one is pressured to give; they may remain anonymous or confidential if 
they choose to; and lots of good things can happen without being held 
back by a lowest common denominator. 

I'm one of the lower-income members. Does it bother me that others raised 
the money to buy two lots so we could donate them to Habitat for 
Humanity, which we wanted to do? Of course it does not bother me! I'm 
delighted that we can do it. I contributed $12, and was proud to be part 
of the $50,000 total. 

I am likewise pleased that there are those who have helped with donations 
to buy some neighboring land, to buy a nice propane heat stove for the 
common house, to buy a new piano for the common house, to have money to 
landscape a patio by the common house dining room. 

We used a similar approach when faced with a possible delay in some of 
the last money in the common-house budget, until our last two lots are 
sold. We did a survey and found that there were members who collectively 
were willing to loan the group $40,000 if needed for this purpose, so we 
could proceed, even though there were a few members who were unwilling, 
personally, to put out money for such loans. 

MOSTLY we do a normal, planned budget for our operating expenses, with 
committees submitting budgets for approval or trimming by the whole 
group, and consensus on our annual assessment. But it has been most 
useful that we have not been held to a lowest common denominator. I 
suggest that others try such an approach. It can be as simple as passing 
around slips of paper at a meeting, collecting them and counting up the 
resources during a break or pause. Or giving people a survey form to fill 
out and return. 

Lynn Nadeau
RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend WA
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