[TheThinkTank] How Were Your Organizational Transitions?

Laura Brooke birenlaura at gmail.com
Tue Jun 23 13:54:00 PDT 2020


Hi all,

So timely, as always! We at Freeride Montpelier are in the process of
discussing a transition from all-volunteer run to a worker-directed
non-profit community bike shop. This is essentially a hybrid between a
cooperative and non-profit, which is pretty much what we're hoping for as
we'd like to keep our collective/cooperative-type values. Here's a resource
on this idea, for anyone who is interested:
https://www.theselc.org/worker_selfdirected_nonprofits

We're still in the beginning phase of this process, so this thread is
really helpful to see! Some of the reasons why we're transitioning:
- We'd like to be able to serve the community more, and having some paid
staff would help with the shop being open more
- We're in need of some more processes in place (especially with COVID and
having new volunteers who may be interested in helping out at the shop)
- We've had 1-2 people volunteering and doing the bulk of the work. They're
interested in getting paid for this and the core volunteers thought that
this idea (compensation) made a lot of sense, especially as sales have
exponentially increased!

Best,
Laura - Volunteer from Freeride

On Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 2:54 PM Audrey Wiedemeier <audrey at bikelibrary.org>
wrote:

> Hello All,
>
> Great thread. The Bike Library went through a rough transition about 5
> years ago when we hired our first full-time staff member (and Executive
> Director). Many volunteer mechanics left, but in my opinion it was for the
> best. In the last year we have hired a 2nd staff person who serves as the
> Volunteer Coordinator and works 25 hrs per week. I can't tell you how much
> it has helped, and I am so glad we did it last Nov so that she was
> trained-up for Spring. We went from having aprox 30 volunteers working on
> various tasks 7 days a week to only staff working after covid started. We
> are in the process of transitioning volunteers back into the shop, and we
> are grateful to have them. I think we could better serve our community if
> we were to hire another paid staff (thank you for this thread because it's
> really got me thinking about bringing this up). After visiting with folks
> from BICAS at BIKEBIKE and hearing more about how they operate I am much
> more interested in the coop model vs traditional non-profit, as well as how
> well they are able to serve their community with their paid staff. Our
> volunteers are wonderful and we value them tremendously.
>
> Peace & grease,
>
> *Audrey Wiedemeier* (She/her/hers)
> Iowa City Bike Library, Director
>
> 700 S. Dubuque St, Iowa City
> *COVID Hours: *Tues. - Thurs. 10 AM - 5 PM; Sat. 10 - 3 PM
> Need something? Set up an appointment by email.
> Want to donate? Drop off anytime during these hours. Thank you!
>
> BikeLibrary.org
> C: (515) 450-1651
>
>
>
> On Mon, Jun 22, 2020 at 10:14 AM Jean-François Caron <jfcaron3 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>> The AMS Bike Co-op & The Bike Kitchen at UBC in Vancouver went through
>> two such transitions.
>>
>> One was a transition on the Bike Kitchen (DIY social enterprise bike
>> shop) from worker-run to having a formal manager.   The transition was
>> forced by the volunteer board of directors of the AMS Bike Co-op
>> (student club under the university's student union) who officially have
>> authority over the Bike Kitchen.  It was not a friendly transition, but
>> it was deemed necessary since the business was basically failing.  There
>> was not enough coordination between stocking supplies, parts, scheduling
>> shifts, and pricing policy.  We (I was one of the directors) made the
>> seniormost existing mechanic into a manager, and some mechanics left as
>> a result.  IIRC they left explicitly because they only wanted to work in
>> a worker collective context.  Since then, a new manager has been hired
>> as a joint effort between the outgoing Bike Kitchen manager, employees,
>> and the AMS Bike Co-op.
>>
>> The other transition was on the AMS Bike Co-op side.  We're still
>> technically a student club under the university student union, but in
>> addition to the volunteer board of directors, we have now had permanent
>> paid staff for many years.  We initially only had temporary student
>> labour paid out of grants, but at some point we passed a student levy
>> that greatly increased our funding.  Our initial move was to hire an
>> "Executive Director" permanent employee.  The title was just chosen
>> because that's what we saw other non-profits using, but it turned out to
>> be a problem because it implies global scope and it gave directors the
>> wrong idea about what their job was, and the contract was too vague so
>> everything became their job.  We renegotiated a contract with the title
>> changed to "Programs Manager" along with other terms to make it more
>> clear what was the scope of the job, and things went pretty well from
>> there.  The Programs Manager managed the various outreach, volunteer,
>> and collaboration programs, and also hired other permanent staff as
>> needed.
>>
>> My little summary probably grossly oversimplifies things.  If anyone
>> adds further details that contradicts some of what I said, I assume
>> responsibility for misremembering.
>>
>> Jean-François
>>
>> On 2020-06-19 8:39 p.m., Carlyn Arteaga wrote:
>> >    We are paid-staff-run but still consensus-based and mostly still
>> > sales-via-donations sustained. I wasn't around during the transition,
>> > though, so I can't help much on that front. But happy to answer any
>> > specific questions about how we make it work.
>> > ~Carlyn
>> >
>> > On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 1:29 AM Dennis Wollersheim <dewoller at gmail.com
>> > <mailto:dewoller at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> >
>> >     I would also like to hear about this.  Our organisation is trying to
>> >     hire a manager for the first time, and I can see it will be
>> >     difficult for the board / senior volunteers to let go of control.
>> >       I get exasperated when the board spends an hour discussing the
>> >     wording of a social media post.  In my view, these should be
>> >     procedural issues, dealt with by the manager.  It will be a painful
>> >     transition, I reckon.
>> >
>> >     Cheers
>> >     Dennis
>> >
>> >     On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 9:13 AM Thomas Butler
>> >     <thomas.unavailable at gmail.com <mailto:thomas.unavailable at gmail.com
>> >>
>> >     wrote:
>> >
>> >         I’m interested to hear from people whose organizations made
>> >         transitions from:
>> >
>> >         volunteer-centric to staff-centric
>> >
>> >         all-donation to grant-(or retail-)funded
>> >
>> >         consensus-run to exclusive/majoritarian board (or something
>> else)
>> >
>> >
>> >         In particular what were peoples’ objections to the transition?
>> >         What problems or pitfalls were there? Did the shop lose its
>> >         independence? What net-negatives were there (even if
>> >         overwhelmingly outweighed by all the positives?)
>> >
>> >
>> >         Please feel free to reply to my personal email here if there’s
>> >         something you don’t want to put on blast:
>> >
>> >         thomas.unavailable at gmail.com <mailto:
>> thomas.unavailable at gmail.com>
>> >
>> >
>> >         My interest is not regarding articles of incorporation or how to
>> >         fill out 501c3 paperwork. (there are threads on those topics in
>> >         TheThinkTank archives
>> >         <
>> http://lists.bikecollectives.org/pipermail/thethinktank-bikecollectives.org/
>> >
>> >         if anyone is curious). Your testimonial is likely more relevant
>> >         if your organization's incorporation is far in the past relative
>> >         to its transition(s).
>> >
>> >
>> >         Thank you all so much for the work you do in your own
>> >         communities and for the work you do in this community of ours.
>> >
>> >
>> >         Thomas Butler
>> >
>> >         he | they
>> >
>> >         Austin’s Yellow Bike Project
>> >
>> >
>> >         ____________________________________
>> >
>> >         The ThinkTank mailing List
>> >
>> >         Unsubscribe from this list here:
>> >
>> http://lists.bikecollectives.org/options.cgi/thethinktank-bikecollectives.org
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >     --
>> >     --
>> >     -------------------------------------------
>> >     Dennis Wollersheim
>> >     -------------------------------------------
>> >     ____________________________________
>> >
>> >     The ThinkTank mailing List
>> >
>> >     Unsubscribe from this list here:
>> >
>> http://lists.bikecollectives.org/options.cgi/thethinktank-bikecollectives.org
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > --
>> >
>> > *Carlyn Arteaga*
>> >
>> > /pronouns: they/them/theirs/
>> >
>> > Youth Program Coordinator____
>> >
>> > *BICAS____*
>> >
>> > 2001 N. 7th Ave. | Tucson, AZ 85701 | Shop: 520-628-7950__
>> >
>> > carlyn.arteaga at bicas.org
>> > <mailto:carlyn.arteaga at bicas.org> |www.bicas.org
>> > <http://www.bicas.org> | Facebook
>> > <http://www.facebook.com/bicascollective/> | Instagram
>> > <http://www.instagram.com/bicastucson/>
>> >
>> > __ __
>> >
>> > /Through advocacy and bicycle salvage, our mission is to participate in
>> > affordable bicycle transportation, education, and creative recycling
>> > with our greater Tucson community./
>> >
>> >
>> > ____________________________________
>> >
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-- 
Laura Brooke
*she/her/hers or they/them/theirs*
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