Co-Op and Charity

There will be people involved who will want to help the poor, misfortunate, homeless, needy, people in distress.  I have no problem with people helping people.  However, the enterprise is a means of enabling and organizing people to help themselves.  Some of the folks involved are scraping by and the enterprise gives them a much needed boost, lest thy become the poor, misfortunate, homeless, needy, people in distress.

We've already got a Cans for College program to give youths a head start.  We've got the enterprise to give kids and youths much needed job experience as well as income potential.  We've got the ability to include cottage industry to further give individuals a boost.  We've got a repurpose shop which can provide stuff at very low cost, even free, to the less fortunate, and the only financial goal of that project is to break even.

Sooner or later someone is going to stand up and say that we, as a group, should give some of what we produce to charity.

Some of the people involved need what their hard work is creating for them.  

Everyone involved has the opportunity at any time to give any money they earn from this enterprise or from any other of their own sources to charity.
Standing up to say we ALL should give to charity is bullshit.  If you want to give YOUR share away, go right ahead, but keep your hands off MY share.  

Fact of the matter is that a family earning less than around 75k/yr is quite often making do with what they have.  These families are working hard to put food on the table, make ends meet, keep the car running, and ay the bills.  Every little bit helps.  Some of these families are in a tight spot as a result of medical bills, accidents, deaths in the family, legal issues and that few thousand a year they earn from the enterprise makes a difference.  Calling for the group to support charity takes bread out of one needy mouth to give it to another needy mouth.  We've got single mothers trying to support their families.  You would take from them?  These people are working hard for their morsel.  Let them make the call.

If the group supports a charity, rather than the individual, we remove their choice.  
If the individual want to support the needy, I suggest they start with the people in the group.

We can't help everyone, but we can help those who are able and willing to help themselves.  Anyone not involved in the group can still benefit by using the buyers group, applying for scholarship, borrowing tools and books.

There is nothing stopping a group from forming with the express intent of giving the proceeds to the needy.  Give it all away if you like.  If you support the charity so much, how about you give away everything you have.  Keep your hands out of my pocket.  If I wish to give to charity I have my own favored charities and who they are is my business.  I'll not justify how much I give, if any, or have my targets rated against yours.  I should also not be pressured into giving to a cause because it is the fad of the month.

There is room in the group for charity, but donations must come from the individual rather than the group.  We'll have single mothers scraping to support their families.  It makes no sense to take from them in favor of (for example) the homeless down the block.  An individual sharecropper can give all of their earnings to whatever cause they see fit.  The nature of the co-op allows individual sharecroppers to get involved with that express goal in mind.  It's your earnings, you can do whatever you like with it.

The Co-op can benefit from having people involved with the express intention of giving a significant part of their earnings to a charitable cause.  We expand our potential recruitment base which keeps the enterprise going.  The individual gains a means of raising money for their cause, when such a means may not be available otherwise.

In this situation, it should be made clear at the signing of the sharecroppers agreement, and careful thought will need to be given to allowing the Co-op to be used in this manner.  Are we taking time away from other members of the co-op?  If so, is this not the same as a tax or group contribution?  Can anyone come in to work under that sharecropper?  If this be the case we risk abuse and there is a threat of being overwhelmed by charitable sharecroppers who could effectively shut out others.  The essence of the enterprise is families.  Sharecroppers and their families can work under a sharecropper agreement.  It would not be acceptable to allow a charitable sharecropper to bring in the homeless to do work under the contract, only the family of that charitable sharecropper.

This may be a can of worms.  It can also bring much benefit to the co-op as well as the cause.  Do our ethics allow it?  Does someone in the group suffer by having work taken away?  Does the group need to consider the charity receiving the benefits from the sharecropper who earned it.  If your charity is the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church, you just shut us all down.  There is nothing to stop someone joining the group as a sharecropper with this purpose and not saying a word.  If they are pitching in, helping the group, carrying their share of the load, what they do with their earnings is not the concern of others in the group.  It would be possible to declare your charity when signing a sharecroppers application. 

As a group, we can add a public declaration of charities whose ideals we support and those we do not.  Kids with cancer, yes.  Hate groups, no.  We can also include a clause in the sharecroppers contract allowing the charity declaration to be shared publicly.  If you wish to give to a charity, you are free to do so.  At the same time, the group maintains separation from your personal choices and if need be, can sever our relationship.  Most of us are just trying to take care of our families, grow vegetables, and cook up something in the kitchen.  We don't need drama and controversy.

Sign up for your charity for a year.  
The shareholders of the co-op can use this strategy to kick off something truly beneficial.  In metropolitan areas a co-op could be formed specifically with this intention in mind.  A kitchen and store would be ideal for this.  The land can be removed from the equation.  This takes out the need for the Land Company and brings the start up costs to a barebones level.  More reliance is placed on the sharecroppers fee to pay the bills and we could find a whole lot of sharecroppers through this path. 

Rather than open a can of worms, this line of thought suggests we open yet another door of opportunity. 


200 Member Cooperative, Plan Outline