Re: Very Quick Question - Cohousing Research Funding
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 09:15:24 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Tom,

This is similar to how Songaia funds our special community projects, that
is, our project funding is completely independent from our operating budget.
While monthly assessments for the operating budget are required of all
members, we fund projects using both earmarked and general "donations."
Project funding is done only by those who are willing and able to provide
money on top of their monthly assessment.

This has resulted in a steadily growing pool of money that we call our
"Abundance Fund." Some members choose to fund just specific projects,
putting earmarked money into the fund as part of the project's approval
process - using the Decision Board concept that we learned about from
Sharingwood Cohousing (our closest Built Cohousing neighbor). Others, myself
included, don't fund specific projects, but put money into the fund on a
monthly basis without earmarking. I trust the Songaia decision process to
continue yielding good-enough decisions about what to fund and how to use
the fund's non-earmarked monies. The combination of ear-marked support, and
our general Abundance Fund balance, means that funding for any specific
project is rarely an issue here.

Since assuming the Exec Dir role, I've started managing Coho/US normal costs
similar to how our community's operating budget works - both Songaia and
Coho/US keeps our monthly, recurring costs as low as is reasonable. Coho/US
funds specific, well-defined and budgeted projects for measurable
deliverables on top of our operating budget. I think, without realizing it,
that we are set up to administer earmarked donations exactly as you suggest.
A recent staffing change has resulted in the two bookkeepers that handle
Songaia's budget also job-share the Coho/US bookkeeper role.

I'll discuss your idea with the Coho/US Core staff and board.

Thank you very much,

On Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 3:56 AM, Fred H Olson <fholson [at]> 

> Thomas Lofft <tlofft [at]> is the author of the message below.
> It was posted by Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at] 
> >
> after deleteing most of long mangled quote (original carriage returns
> gone).
> --------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
> On Mon, 25 Aug Craig Ragland wrote:
> > In addition to the volunteer efforts that Donna invites I'd like to
> > remind> folks that Coho/US also uses money to make good stuff happen. A
> > future, paid> deliverable that COULD address some of the questions Kay
> > would like answered> is the upcoming 2009 Annual Cohousing Census, but
> > only if we can> sufficiently support that project.
> Craig, et al.,
> The funding question is always a challenge whether at the national,
> community, or household level.  How do we analytically or intuitively
> allocate limited resources?
> One technique we've used successfully is the "Pass the hat - earmarked
> funding' approach.
> While community annual assessments, where used, are generally approved on
> a general budget category or line item basis, either from a 'funding cap'
> approach or on a 'minimum absolute requirements' basis, generally there
> are always other projects or wish items that people want to complete.
> Some members can't manage additional contributions due to personal budget
> limitations. Perhaps some really don't support a particular proposal.
>  "Pass the hat - earmarked funding' approach proffers a proposal to
> undertake a project based on contributed funding.  When enough sponsors
> offer enough funding, the proposer becomes the advocate/project manager
> and sees through collection of funds and recruits a project manager or
> takes on management as an extension of the advocacy.
> This is a real test of the waters to see if there is real community
> support to complete a project - putting their money where their wish list
> is.
> Now my whole point is that theoretically, this funding strategy could be
> used at a national level by any advocate seeking to undertake a project
> that would benefit many communities, but not necessarily all communities.
> Perhaps every community might allocate a portion of its budget for later
> determination as a contribution to a CoHoUS project TBD.  Otherwise, they
> might find a few advocates internally who are in a particular stage of
> community development that they might like to financially sponsor external
> research.
> Yes, it often takes longer and therefore requires greater lead time to
> generate the funds and undertake the project.  The strength of the
> advocacy is often a great determinant of the strength of the response.
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Craig Ragland

Coho/US executive director
craig [at]

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