Where does the money come from?

Being a non-profit does not mean “no charges”. I was in Couchsurfing and am am now a BeWelcome member and have suggested that they should introduce a “suggested” donation of 50 cents per night stayed which would actually more than cover all their current expenses without further donations being required. I made this suggestion because I think it unfair that the required costs of running the system should be born by a minority of those using it. For me, this is a moral issue. BeWelcome will likely not introduce the idea of the voluntary donation, so there is an opportunity for Couchers to distinguish itself as the only voluntary-run non-profit that actually operates on a firm financial basis with everyone paying their (very small) share, which means that the increased costs which come with increased membership will automatically be met. I think this makes eminent sense and should be discussed. The amount charged can be enshrined in the bylaws to be not more than 10% more than that calculated to be required for the upcoming year’s budget. 10% extra is required because operating any organization at a slight loss is a nightmare whereas operating at a slight annual profit which is then rolled over to reduce the next year’s budget is not a problem.

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Costs are not linear with membership. Not even linear with activity, so with more activity the incomes would be eccessive.
also there is the “No taxation without representation” . If you ask money you should give some definite right to the shareholders, and i do not see any voluntary-run organization willing to give such rights.
We can say that is a different approach to “diritto al mugugno” of genova in the XIV century, you give money but you gain the right to discuss on everything it concern you.
So it is not good nor acceptable. expecially host already pay and do not get any specific right nor spoecial treatment.

If the charge is producing excess income, then reduce it - no problem there. Excess offsets next year’s budget and reduces the charge.
The “shareholders” are getting something back: the right to actually use the facility: an expectation by users that the infrastructure to support a global system be freely provisioned is not sustainable, in my opinion, so you should address it when starting out. Are we really arguing about this when the amount is $1 or 50 cents, is being paid by the party getting the most benefit and is definitely not in any way “profit”.
I ran a not-for-profit club for over 10 years and this is based on my experience: you have to equitably collect enough money to pay the unavoidable bills. Volunteer labor takes care of the rest.

Questions are not only the the money, but are five:

  1. in a voluntary association members have to pay their monetary contribute, but in turn they have the right to meet in an assembly to decide o the activities, directly or by voting a board among them.
    Wold this happen and everyone will have equal rights ? (it is something that no other free hospex community have)
  2. Asking compulsory who more benefit from “services” to pay the contribute, whatever is the amount, would completely break the spirit of free hospitality since it is no longer free.
  3. in some jurisdiction just collecting money based on the presence , even for benefit of a non profit association, make the hospitality “semi professional”, and require who collect money for the association to collect also tourist taxes for the municipality
  4. collecting even voluntary contribution, even with a tip jar where the guest would drop their contribution at end of stay, would make the attitude of the host when leaving a reference biased.
  5. Also if is arranged ta that money go to organization how to do with a guest that accidentally broke something leaving all dirty then left 20€ as a “restoration”, thinking that would have gone to clean the mess ?
  1. I am not proposing that the organization force it on the members: please discuss it with the membership.
  2. the payment is not towards the hospitality - it is towards the cost of making the arrangements. Suppose there was a free concert being given and Ticketmaster was handling the tickets (because seats are limited and must be allocated). Ticketmaster would not provide the service for free - they would charge a small fee (well, probably a large one) for the ticket even though the concert itself was free. We are all offering small personal free concerts and that doesn’t change if the managing organization runs on a solid commercial (while non-profit) basis.
  3. If you re-read my proposal, it was that for the organization, donations remain voluntary, just “recommended” or “customary”. The host may choose to “require” it and the hosted may choose to always donate even if the host doesn’t care.
  4. I would never suggest that the host handle money - it would be done online by the hosted person during the visit.
  5. Breakages have absolutely nothing to do with this - separate subject which I have no opinion on.

For clarity, this has nothing to do with the visit, how good the host was or anything like that. It is simply an acknowledgement from the hosted person that he is there because of the organization that allowed him to arrange it. Yes, host and hosted both get benefit from the visit but we all know the hosted people get the most benefit so it is appropriate that they are the ones to make the “service fee” donation. I don’t see this detracting from the spirit of the enterprise in any way so long as people understand the intent.

  1. so no contribution from guests, because they would not automatically get right on community decisions.
  2. in this case would be always someone getting advantage from the hospitality exchange. a lot of people would not be happy that someone take profit from their volunteer work.
    3/4. for some guests the cost of making a donation could be not negligible, respect to the amount. giving to the host for which could be cheaper to do the money transfer could be solution, that however in some places can have some fiscal consequences.
  3. you have not answered about the possible influence on the “reference” that host will give to guest according the money had given. (when i have guests i ask them if they have gifts to give that only at end of stay, when they leave, to avoid to influence my reactions)
  4. I say: there is a “tip jar for the hospex community” so it is expected that any thing put there goes to the community. One guests feels that had made some damage and so put there some money more than for the community to cover the damage it did. But this money must go to community, not to the person that suffered the loss.
    We would say “becco e bastonato”

Thank you for continuing the conversation. I think we are still not understanding each other.

  1. I am confused by your response and do not understand what you mean. I am proposing only a suggested donation (not a required one), specifically from the guest, not related in any way to their right to be involved in community decisions, which should be independent of whether they have donated or not, as I assume it is now.
  2. no-one is getting any profit!!! This is simply an alternate way of gathering the donations you currently get. You currently get larger amounts from fewer people. This new collection method results in smaller amounts from more people which I believe is more egalitarian. Still completely voluntary, except that some hosts may choose to require it, as I have already done and as others may choose to do, regardless of any central action by Couchers.
  3. The amount of the donation is not that important - what is important is the principle of “most people” making a small contribution (whatever makes sense for them) to support instead of fewer larger donors. If there are practical problem with making a donation, no problem. No rules are absolute. I just think if it was suggested then 80% would think it a good idea.
  4. A tip jar could be used and is a good idea in places where electronic commerce is not normal. It is the same principle but it relies on the host passing the money back.
    Thanks for listening
  1. at beginning you wrote

Being a non-profit does not mean “no charges”.

a somewaht required, or pressured donation is in fact a sort of charge, also some hosts could go in this way, but others not. and this could be a sort of preselection, also would ask it on arrival or trust on the people leaving it at end ?

  1. it is not a question of profit, in some cases it is just the transferring of money between entities that makes the difference. a single host cannot require it! even if not for its personal direct benefit, would be always a way to ask a fee.

  2. nice, but there are all the other points that makes me dubious.

  3. it is a very good thing , except for the case that I wrote about: when the money left is thought to go mostly to the host that incurred some extra expences (think not only the guest breaking something, but also the case when the guest get off the train at wrong station in the night and host had to make 40 km to rescue them)

I see that you keep putting together the host with the payment. They are totally separate. I am not suggesting that the host normally collects this, although they could, if it was more convenient for the guest than making an online transfer and the guest requested the host do it or the host offered. It would be just the “preferred way” for the organization to receive donations, because it is fairer and it scales with the size of the organization (although i know the costs don’t exactly scale).
Money for breakages or host’s unexpected costs etc should always be considered separately from this small donation to the organization: they are totally different.
I see this as being very informal: the host might say “you know i believe the organization should be supported by small donations from all the people who use the service” and the guest may reply “Oh yes, I made a donation before i left home for that”. The guest may be telling the truth or lying - doesn’t really matter because a small percentage will always want to game the system.