--- On Mon, 10/20/08, MoBo Bicycle Co-op email@example.com wrote:
From: MoBo Bicycle Co-op firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: [TheThinkTank] Fwd: A Little Help Please! To: "The Think Tank" email@example.com Received: Monday, October 20, 2008, 5:20 PM Hey all. I just want to start off by saying I am so glad I joined the list! I am a founding member of Cincinnati's co-op MOBO and we so often feel like we're all alone out there and have no mentorship. So, it's great to actually feel like we're part of something bigger, not just ogle over other people's sites on the internet. So, I have a few questions to start off with How do other organizations manage to purchase inventory? One company? Two? Whoever's got the best deal? We've tried going through bike shops and because we're not priority---it just takes forever.
Thus far we have just ordered through sympathetic bike shops. The shops tend to order from several suppliers but only once they accumulate the minimum order. They tend to order more frequently from their preferred supplier so try to order stuff they can get through that supplier if you are in a rush. Until your orders get close to the supplier's minimum it is probably faster (and much cheaper) to piggyback on a local shops order.
How do you log volunteer hours? Reward volunteers? Keep contact with them?
We issue our volunteers a "membership" card in exchange for them filling out a form with their contact info, interests and skills. Then for each hour they volunteer we place a stamp on the back of their card. Volunteers can exchange a stamp for an hour of free DIY time in our shop. We also coach our volunteers in repair skills while they are volunteering. Our main contact with the volunteers is via email. On their contact form they indicate areas of interest/skills and we may target some of these specifically if we need help. (For example we recently had to replace our bookkeeper and were able to source a new one from our volunteer database.) We also post volunteer information in the shop and on our website.
Anybody have a tiered system of volunteers, where you have a member, an active member and a board member?
Currently we have a informal tiered system which consists of 4 levels.
- Joe volunteer who has a "membership" card and can accumulate DIY hours
- Shop Assistant volunteers who are scheduled to help the Head Mechanic run the shop when we are open (this was made an absolute necessity when we recently moved into a 2 room shop where one person could no longer keep track of both rooms)
- Head Mechanics and other Core Volunteers who run the organization, have keys to the shop
- Director who is paid a small stipend to keep everything running smoothly, be the primary point of contact for external organizations, be available most days when all the volunteers tend to be at their real jobs and put in more than double the hours of anyone else.
We are moving to incorporate as a non-profit (in Canada) so we plan to formalize this with 3 & 4 becoming the board of directors and 1 & 2 likely having no legal role.
What about open meetings? How can you be a collective but also not let jo-one-timer go on and on at the meeting about how we wouldn't sell him some campy brakes but asked for volunteer time instead and how stupid that is?
Most of our meetings 5-10 per year are attended by the director plus about 1/2 of group 3 above. 95% or more of our decisions are made by consensus with unanimous approval of those in attendance. Many agenda items are hashed out via an email group in advance of the meetings. Over the years we have had a few crusty members that were constantly in opposition to the rest of the group but they all wore down and quit. Now we are a little more careful on who we invite to become a core member. Once a year at our AGM we open up attendance to anyone that wants to attend but have rarely had anyone outside the core group show up (perhaps due to a lack of advertising on our part).
-- MoBo Bicycle Co-op a project of The Village Green Foundation 1415 Knowlton Ave Northside Cincinnati, OH _______________________________________________
Chris Wells (Head Mechanic & Email Handler)
re-Cycles Bicycle Co-op 477 Bronson Ave. Ottawa