Question about a technique for allocating funds
From: David Heimann (
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2010 18:52:18 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Rob (and others),

        Here at Jamaica Plain Cohousing we're looking into a way to allocate
some unspent monies among several possible alternatives.  Someone mentioned
a method she heard about from Rob Sandelin; a "budget fair".  The way she
describes it, if for example there is $1000 to spend and ten alternatives
each costing around $300, one creates ten areas around the room, one for
each alternative.  Each person receives $1000 in play money, then goes
around the room and "buys" whatever alternatives they can with their money
(presumably in this case they can buy around three alternatives each).  When
time is called, the alternative with the top amount collected is funded
first, then the second-most, then the third-most, etc., until the $1000 is
fully spent.

         She is quite excited about this concept, but I see some troubling
aspects, especially if the alternatives have vastly different prices.
Suppose, for example, that there are eleven alternatives, ten which cost
$100 and one which costs $1000, and there is $1000 available to allocate.
If the $1000 alternative comes in second, it falls completely out of the
running, even though it may have considerable support, and the community
would wind up funding the ten $100 projects even though five or six or more
of them had little enthusiasm behind them.

         So, how does one carry out this budget choice mechanism when the
alternatives are considerably different in price.  Or is this method not
feasible unless the alternatives are similarly priced?

         Thank you very much for any information you may have, and hope the
summer is going well!

David Heimann
Jamaica Plain Cohousing

"I Make Your Numbers Talk"

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