Re: Funding and Organizational Model for Coho US
From: Alice Alexander (
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2015 09:16:51 -0700 (PDT)
Many thanks to the good comments on a revenue model for sustaining Coho/US.
To confirm:

Coho/US is not a membership organization; we are a 501(3) nonprofit
organization. We do not require membership dues from individuals or
cohousing communities, and our services as a connector and clearinghouse to
grow and support cohousing are available to everyone, not just "members."

Coho/US relies on financial support from individuals and communities both.
Individuals gifts can be claimed as a charitable donations; cohousing
communities may prefer a reference to membership dues or support, and this
is fine. "Membership" can be a generic term!

In 2014, I sent out two requests to all our subscribers (9,300) to
encourage individual charitable donations; this yielded gifts from
individuals of $4,061. We have invested time and will continue to invest
time in growing this support from individuals.

Also in 2014, we encouraged all cohousing communities to support Coho/US,
and we received more gifts from cohousing communities than ever before -
over $13,000. Just last month, I sent a "Community Connection" newsletter
to encourage planning for annual support to Coho/US - sent to those who are
tagged as reps for their cohousing communities. I am happy to share this
with others.

However, with an operational budget in 2015 of $62,444, Coho/US continues
to be challenged in raising sufficient funds from individuals and
communities to be sustainable.

A strict membership structure as a business model for associations (one
that requires dues, and provide services to a select audience) generally
only works well for trade associations representing for profit businesses
(think American Medical Association).

Cohousing communities are not profit centers, and support is based on a
decision to recognize that Coho/US (1) provides credibility and relevancy
for cohousing as a housing and living option; (2) attracts the public to
cohousing, thus helping provide communities with robust waiting lists; and
(3) serves as a clearinghouse and connector for cohousing resources.

Other sources of revenue include advertising (which at $50 per month for a
classified ad is a great deal! we keep this cost affordable as a service to
the cohousing world), and support from our cohousing professionals

I appreciate the ideas for foundation grant support; as a career nonprofit
fundraiser, our status is a huge challenge for traditional funding (we
serve cohousers who for the most part are not foundation target
populations). Project-oriented work as Sharon Villines has suggested is
likely our only avenue, but that requires staffing, and resource
investment; consideration would have to be very thoughtful to balance our
priorities. Please share ideas! But understand that project grant funding
does not support operational funds generally - so we are back to the
challenge of sustainability.

A challenge that inspires me actually, and one reason I am committed to
this position, knowing the importance of stabilizing and strengthening our
basic organization.
Alice Alexander, Coho/US Executive Director

On Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 9:14 AM, Kathryn McCamant <
kmccamant [at]> wrote:

> I don't know why it needs to be one or the donations and
> individual, and I expect it actually is.. When we get notice of our annual
> "community membership" payment (really really need an annual invoice or
> reminder of some sort), I try to use the opportunity to put it on a
> community meeting agenda to talk about the association so that more people
> know about it and understand what it does. We have fund for the assocation
> in our HOA budget.
> But, that does not mean that the association should not try to cultivate
> individual donors also.
> I think there are a lot of people living in cohousing who will never
> attend a conference but support the association and are glad there is a
> national network and website... especially for resales.
> Katie
> --
> Kathryn McCamant, President
> Nevada City Cohousing
> And
> CoHousing Solutions
> 241B Commercial Street
> Nevada City, CA 95959
> T.530.478.1970  C.916.798.4755
> On 6/5/15, 5:08 AM, "Fred-List manager" <fholson [at]> wrote:
> >
> >Eris Weaver <eris [at]>
> >is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
> >Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
> >due to a format problem.
> >--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
> >Sharon Villines wrote:
> >
> >>To my knowledge the funding and organizational model for Coho US is a
> >>community membership model. I think it is because it based on a
> >>fundamentally flawed assumption ? that cohousing communities have a
> >>commitment to the cohousing movement.
> >>
> >>Most members of my community have no knowledge of the national cohousing
> >>organization or any interest in a movement. It isn't a cause. I was
> >>shocked
> >>when I joined this group that people were not expected to read at least
> >>one
> >>of the books on cohousing. Some if not many had no knowledge of other
> >>cohousing communities. They saw the flyer on a bulletin board somewhere,
> >>thought it sounded like something interesting, and it matched their
> >>political and social ideals. They moved in because they wanted to live
> >>here,
> >>not to join a movement. They have their own movements.
> >>
> >>And we have the #1 cohousing advocate and activist Ann Zabaldo living in
> >>our
> >>midst. We are a member of the national organization primarily because she
> >>advocates it. And once a budget item is in the budget, it tends to stay.
> >>
> >>So a membership organization supported by communities is probably not the
> >>model that will ever work. More communities will probably not provide the
> >>level of support the movement needs.
> >
> >Totally agree. Other than one conference held locally while we were in
> >development - which just about all our members attended - only one other
> >person in my community besides me has attended a Coho/US conference since
> >we
> >moved in twelve years ago. My neighbors are VERY active in all sorts of
> >political, social, and spiritual movements...but NOT the cohousing
> movement.
> >Cohousing is the place they come home to (and often hold their committee
> >meetings and fundraisers).
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >------------------------------
> >
> >Eris Weaver, Founding member, FrogSong (Cotati, CA)
> >
> >Graphic Facilitator & Group Process Consultant
> >
> > <mailto:eris [at]> eris [at] ? 707-338-8589 
> > ?
> ><>
> >
> >
> >
> >"On days when you have no ideas at all, the best thing you can do is start
> >doodling." Charles M. Schulz
> >
> >
> >
> > <> social-linkedin-box-blue-icon
> ><
> >ul
> >tant/59352022195> social-facebook-box-blue-icon
> ><> twitter-icon
> ><>
> >wordpress
> >
> >
> >
> >fa cil i t?t: to make easier
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >_________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >
> >
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Alice Alexander
Executive Director <>
[image: The Cohousing Association]

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