Which tools and processes can we offer, that make it easy and rewarding to be an active contributor?

How to ask members to contribute donations and think about the financial sustainability of the platform are considerations that often come up in the conversation. I always have the impression that before worrying about money, we should first embrace the idea of being a community and volunteer project much more and think about the central contribution we depend on: the dedication and work of volunteers, organisers and all members to make this the best platform for hospitality exchange.

This is not something we get for free either, especially on the long run. It could be helpful to see it more similar to asking for financial contribution, because it makes it more clear that we need a dedicated messaging and offers around it.

Do you have ideas or experiences from other projects about what makes it especially easy and/or rewarding to actively contribute?

Until covid, we used to belong to a hospitality group called Welcome dinner Project. The dinners were to link us local with new arrival refugees, migrants and international students. Because of that genuine community building focus, we could get community grants from goverment and university agencies. . Whilst people could come to the dinners free of charge, we never used the word free. Everyone had to contribute food, entertainment and a degree of wanting to stay connected.

Another system for funding I saw was in a large hospitality website. They got $22 million in funding some years ago in order to set up something along the lines of airbnb. Advertising was supposed to provide income also. That didn’t happen and the money was spent on salary and rent. However having salaries allowed them to apply under the USA Cares Act to continue salary payments during covid. They have an ongoing system of verification and monthly payments from members, and starting this May, even those verified in old times will pay the ongoing monthly fee from the credit card used to sign up. Not for a minute am I suggesting we use those methods… Just putting them on the table to show what others are doing.

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This is a very interesting topic. I think the main way to get people to volunteer is to make it easy and risk free. I remember the old HC days, I wasn’t very active, but I remember you were instantly greeted and there were prompts everywhere for you to take action. There was even a list of things you could do to help, first part things everyone could do without making any serious commitment like joining events, sending emails to promote it to newspapers, creating your own events and so on, and then more serious tasks that required a long term commitment and required joining the volunteer team. Why I think this is important? Because it breaks the wall between “them and us”, meaning the team and the user: we all contribute, small or big, we all make it happen togheter, we are all part of the team. And once you helped, it’s easier to feel part of something.

Of course HC is prehistoric times :sweat_smile: nowadays I guess it would involve social media, but the principle stands: everyone can help, even if it’s in a small way, everyone is important and every contribution is needed, from tech guys to the the person hosting a dinner or a walk, we are all doing this togheter.

Same happened with CS in the old times, that’s why people became advocates: it’s personal, we are not just users but we were it.

How to accomplish this? I don’t know. I guess carefully planned communication and marketing. The thing is: in here, at the moment, there’s no integration between the team and the users, there’s no way for us to contribute other that this forum, unless you are a developer or something like that, wich I’m not. I am aware that it’s because we don’t have a website yet, and I love all the work you guys are doing, I’m just saying that this is hard to accomplish untill we have a platform everyone can contribute to :slight_smile:

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Really good points. The purpose of the beta is to launch features that people can start interacting with to “grow” the platform and do those softer contributions - like making/joining events, writing community pages and getting discussion going on local forums.

It’d be great to think about other ways we can engage people. I think the idea about writing to newspapers is great. Something else we’re going to start doing soon is getting people to submit blog posts that we can put up on the site and share through social media (we just put up our v1 blog at couchers.org/blog).

I feel that some things are contingent on having the platform out first, including grassroots social media campaigns. But it’d be good to get some suggestions about how we can start getting people involved now.

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