Re: Funding and Organizational Model for Coho US
From: Alice Alexander (
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2015 07:38:58 -0700 (PDT)
Thank you Sharon!
In regards to one of your good suggestion about automatic (recurring)
billing, Coho/US does indeed offer this as a choice. If any cohousing
community would like to be set up for annual billing - to support Coho/US
on an annual basis - please let me know!
And as a reminder: a community that contributes $25 per member, or a
minimum of $300, each year with a pledge to do so each year for 5 years, is
recognized as Sustaining Community <>.
Charlotte Cohousing became a sustaining member just last month (another
benefit: one free registration to the national cohousing conference!)

On Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 9:55 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>

> > On Jun 8, 2015, at 12:16 PM, Alice Alexander <alicecohous [at]>
> wrote:
> >
> > 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.”
> Many 501c3 organizations have members, and serve everyone, not just
> members. They could also be called supporters or sponsors. The advantage of
> someone joining as a member is that they can be automatically billed
> annually. This is a reminder to contribute again. Paypal has the mechanism
> for doing this. People can either donate once or choose a recurring
> payment. They don’t have to have accounts and can use credit cards.
> It’s hard for many of us to even remember if we have donated when or
> never. A recurring payment would ensure a regular income. At the cohousing
> conference one community’s bank used the condo fee payments as support for
> their loan. It was guaranteed income which demonstrated ability to pay.
> It’s good to show for the strength and support of the organization.
> > 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).
> I don’t know what you mean by “strict” but no membership plan has to be
> restrictive. Members can be listed on the website as supporters. This is
> important to many people. Losing that listing and not appearing as a
> supporter can be incentive to donate regularly.
> > 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.
> Memberships can support all these things.
> > 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
> > <>.
> Affordability goes both ways. If the organization is perpetually
> underfunding, it becomes not affordable to itself.
> > But understand that project grant funding
> > does not support operational funds generally - so we are back to the
> > challenge of sustainability.
> Generally it doesn’t but overseeing organizations take a percentage of the
> funds for overhead so the organization is supported to the extent that it
> supports those grants. And each of those projects can fulfill the mission
> of Coho/US. Usually it is the person who wants to lead the project that
> writes the grant and organizes the staffing, etc. The organization can help
> by maintaining contacts with friendly funders.
> A Google search on “community organizing” brought up a number of sources.
> While various cohousing related projects may not match what they have
> funded in the past, I think the slant of a program supporting cohousing
> could be toward community organizing.
> > 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.
> And that is the reason I’m presenting these ideas, not as criticism of
> what is being done. The organization is stronger and more visible than it
> has ever been so the time taken is worth spending. There is a possibility
> at least that members of the cohousing community will take up the challenge
> and pursue opportunities.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> _________________________________________________________________
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Alice Alexander
Executive Director <>
[image: The Cohousing Association]

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