At Sibley Bike Depot, we have four paid staff people right now, all of which could use more hours; Volunteer Coordinator, Youth Coordinator, and two mechanics. The mechanics staff our open shops, teach staff and volunteers and help teach classes, repair bikes and do final checks on bikes volunteers repair. We also pay a professional bookkeeper monthly to do our payroll and keep us on track with the reporting, filing of key things. We also have an active board that participates in all areas of operations. We decided that to be more sustainable we had to shift our organization from a top-top hierarchy to a collective model. Our mode of operation shift went something like this: We had a hands-off board of directors that hired an Executive Director and Shop Manager /mechanic The Grants that paid for the start-up of our organization ran out and they were unable to fund these positions. The ED left and they decided to start selling bikes to pay for the Shop Manager/mechanic. The shop manager position continued for a number of years and he was able to use the volunteers and the bikes to pay our rent, utilities and his own pay. But the model was essentially the same; a board of directors who hired someone to do the work for them. Unfortunately that set up the situation where we had the shop manager acting as ED and Mechanic and Program Leader doing and directing everything from bike rentals, sales, donations, deposits, ordering, problem solving, etc. Everything had to go through the shop manager to keep everything going. Eventually he burned out. In our scenario, the board was seen as the boss who could come in and change things, give orders, had power over money and jobs, but was not responsible for day to day operations. And not connected with the people making it all happen. We looked at the Grease Pit as a different model of how things could operate by sharing the work between engaged, participating members of a collective. We decided that we would hire staff people in focused, key areas, to act as partners with us, part of the collective. And the rest is us trying to figure out how to make a collective work. Part of our new organizational structure is to have decentralized volunteer teams with power and authority to carry out tasks. For instance, the web/technology team totally setup a three computer network in our shop, redeveloped our website using drupal for easy content updating and setup a volunteer tracking system also in drupal. The way it's suppose to work is our collective members and staff participate in these teams alongside volunteers. We also have a finance team, fundraising team, outreach/promotion team, education team, etc. It's not all working great, but in my view so far, it's more just and sustainable than the old model. To make our collective more open and accessible, we have been trying to expand our collective to core volunteers who can participate, take on leadership roles and responsibilities and have a say in how to do things. What doesn't work though is when collective members join, but don't take responsibility and don't do the work, and work against other volunteers. And we are still a 501c3 non-profit corporation with banking, payroll, filing and reporting responsibilities. Our new model is confusing to even us at times when collective members assume someone else is taking care of responsibilities and we do only the things that we want to do. I've also seen the collective model turn against itself - infighting, clique behavior, and power struggles. And the other volunteers definately see this.
And our model is also confusing to outsiders who always ask, "who's in charge?"
Funding and Sustainability: The bigger the org, the more funding it needs. And the funding comes from somewhere. If not grants, then bike sales or donations. But still it has to be funded. A small volunteer collective with donated or free space is still funded by the donor of the space. The sources of funding may be an issue, but we have decided that we need to diversify our funding so it's not all recycled-bike sales. But our goal is not to get big, but to do a better job of what we do, increase our capacity to do more, and to keep it sustainable. It's definately a learning process. And I look forward to reading that book, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded.
John Sibley Bike Depot St. Paul, MN
----- Original Message ----- From: "rachael spiewak" firstname.lastname@example.org To: "The Think Tank" email@example.com Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 10:31:36 AM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central Subject: Re: [TheThinkTank] "job" openings at your co-op
Here are some quick answers from Sopo.
We pay one person right now to be our executive director (that's me), but the role is more like a facilitator or manager. My job includes specific tasks that I do and coordinating volunteers to do what they do. On the administrative end, I: *do most of our correspondence and communication oriented things *manage our budget and banking *do our grantseeking and most of the event planning *keep up with donor relations *keep up with all y'all for new ideas *recruit and coordinate the big volunteer picture *keep up with volunteers to make sure they're getting what they need *order shop supplies *and other sort of mundane nonprofit management stuff.
Then, in the shop, I'm always there, I match volunteers with individuals who need help, match volunteers with other things to do in the shop, work with volunteers to address conflict resolution oriented things.
Volunteers facilitate our volunteer orientation, keep the shop running, do our outreach, and help out with lots of the stuff I do. Our board is made up of active volunteers who are specifically helping with finances, HR, and fundraising.
I make $30k a year, which so far has been surprisingly easy to fundraise without compromising our policy about avoiding corporate money and financial support from entities whose values don't match ours. In many ways, my job pays for itself. In the nonprofit world, it appears that organizations get taken more seriously if they have an ED. It's a tricky line to walk, but I think we're making it work for us (suggested reading: The Revolution Will Not Be Funded).
We started this during the third quarter of 2007 on a trial basis. The agreement was that if the money could be found for the next quarter and everything was going fine, we could roll it out for another 3 months. Six months deep we had enough money to keep it going through the end of the year, and by the end of the year we had funding for a bunch more years.
As for decision making: the community has that power. I'm entrusted to do what I do with the understanding that I have a particular skill set, experience with this stuff, education, yadda yadda.. as in, I'm qualified to do my job. But if things at the shop need to change, we deal with it at our general meetings. If I was doing a lousy job, the community could fire me via the Board.
It's funny how power relations are so entrenched, because I overhear people in the shop explaining that I'm in charge, and I have to get in there and explain that "I just work here." Sometimes I have to be the enforcer and ask someone to take a hike when it comes down to it (which everyone gets a kick out of since even our kiddos are bigger than me...and I say things like "kiddos"). I think that my job is to support the work of the volunteers, so that's my approach. I feel empowered to do my job, I feel empowered by my job, I feel rewarded by what I get to do for a living, and I feel that my role in the shop is special in its own way, but we're not feeling any hierchical weirdness.
Hope this helps, Rachael
On Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 11:02 AM, Boson Au < firstname.lastname@example.org > wrote:
so the recent job opening at the bike kitchen in LA reminded me of something I'd very much like to discuss at bikebike, namely how, if you, compensate managers. Currently our collective members are de facto managers, and the recent influx of new volunteers/people in our shop is making some of us think about the possibility of creating a manager role. Right now we have no way to pay this person, but that might change in the future.
so I guess if yall have a minute, can you tell me a little about how your organization deals with it? specifically, if you do offer compensation, does it affect their decisiion making powers? I noticed that the bike kitchen's job opening states that the person would not have executive decisionl, and I can see why since that person's power is already pretty great considering they'd be the manager of the shop.
anyways, this is something I'm really interested in and want to pursue @ bikebike.
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