Giving discounts on the basis of organisational status

Pavilion is in the process of developing a new subscription-based service for our Custom Wizard Plugin for Discourse. Our business customers have been calling for such a service for some time. They want to pay for quicker turn around times, additional support and some advanced features. This is normal.

We’re a co-operative, with three primary goals

  1. Give a fairer deal for tech workers (i.e. increase the power of labour vis-a-vis capital)
  2. Support a diverse array of communities (the standard incentive is to focus on enterprise customers)
  3. Support open source software (i.e. commons over private property)

One of the things we’ve discussed a lot in developing our approach to our first software subscription offering is how we distinguish between who gets what at what price. We want to ensure our answer to that question is in line with our primary goals.

There are various issues in that calculation, however one significant one is that there is no easy way of ensuring an organisation ascribes to their purpose(s) in the same way we do. A “non-profit” designation in one country does not necessarily mean the same thing in another. A “mission driven” organisation can mean many different things in different contexts.

One thing we’re hoping to get out of co-operative credentials is a better approach to this kind of issue, which will only get more difficult the more services we roll out and the larger we get. Our co-operative exists to fulfil its goals, not just to make money. We need a better way of pursuing our goals when it comes to segmenting our customers.

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OK this sounds like an audit layer or function is required - like this is kind of an ESG-type proposition, with tiering dependent on how ‘coopy’ an entity is? Or how ethical it is, according to a common criteria - like reinvestment rates, degree of participatory governance, all that jazz…

Examples: there are Coops stricto sensu, incorporated using local Coop law, then in this country many people choose non-co-op entities with internal Coop governance due to Coops being legally disadvantaged. It’s a mess, frankly.

Similarly there are de jure Coops who aren’t exactly very Coopy on the inside.

Here is a project interests me, on audits:

https://xes.cat/es/comisiones/balance-social/

Its basically a social audit for the local solidarity economy - so it kinda gatekeeps while encouraging better practice.

Also reminds me of social enterprise certification - which is a bit nationally adhoc, even tho there is ‘hard’ European guidance re:

So you could make a play for that space as a ‘trusted certification agency’? This also speaks to Socially Responsible Public Procurement (SRPP):

So Authorities can reserve tenders or offer preference based on esg criteria, but again its all a bit adhoc - having a ‘gold standard’ agency stamp ‘approved and audited’ would probably get good traction in market share.

This fits with Community Wealth Building strategies, so you could mobilise local communities to advocate their localities for ‘Green and social’ - almost like ‘don’t buy Coca cola’ protests but um more positive?

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Yes, which co-operative memberships qualify under this system is a key question.

Indeed. Pavilion is currently a corporation, acting as an agent for its members. We attempted to register as a co-op last year, but found it wasn’t quite appropriate at the time. We’ll be revisiting the question early next year.

I think this is one where some assistance from folks who research co-operatives would be helpful, to provide a framework. I’ve started a wiki with some of the options you mentioned here

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I’m a very negative person - what are the
negative criteria? I like boundaries, rules - it’s my bureaucratic spirit animal hehe…

If we all accept there is a positive dimension of cooperativism, and all accept that our cooperation is flawed, how do we fail?

Like one route is to assess by the Coop Principles - but my Feels are the interesting learning might be from looking at how we might ‘fail our own exam’.

Everyone likes puppy’s and kittens, but at what exact point do you show something the door, you are out?

Seems critical, otherwise it’s all a bit vague and ‘I know it when I see it’

I’m also super-interested by the ‘Coop-ish but not a Coop-exactly’ territory. I think there is a lot more Coop-inclined, value-aligned territory than, say, stricto sensu ICA Coops by local law. And that this is an ecology we could enable, boost, etc.

For me, a core component is the democracy element - which begs all sorts of questions,admittedly, but does settle the account with more neoliberal-oriented ‘social enterprises’ or ‘social businesses’.

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Celebrating this terminology.

Morshed Mannan might be an excellent early resource. m.mannan@law.leidenuniv.nl https://twitter.com/MannanMorshed

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