By Dee Brooks
For those who don’t know the movie “Jerry Maguire”, Jerry is a sports agent who has a client who is considering jumping ship and who has coerced him to participate in a business conversation about pay rates by shouting, “show me the money” to prove his loyalty & as Jerry gets more excited, he is swept along with the wave of enthusiasm and excitement and rightly so, he scores a coup; he makes history, retains his client and boosts his business!
Whether this is a healthy relationship or not is not the point of this message, the point is; this scenario is an example of how business often works whether you are in the corporate or community services world. It’s healthy competition, right?
In comparison, there are people on the fringes of community engagement, development and capacity building work who are doing things differently; no day rate, no donor expectations, no organisational hierarchy, no formal reports and, the best part is; it’s working (without shouting)!
The Sharing Economy is one part of this shift and at the Jeder Institute we’re seeing the benefits! We ask people UPON REGISTRATION to “show us the money” – we ask them to give what they can and ask for what they need; no fixed fee, no pretention – just simply; what can you afford? how can we support you to be part of this? if you are called to be part of this training/facilitation/event, we want you there… how can we best help you? In addition, our budgets are always open to anyone and our communication to those who register reflects this.
This has not always been an easy road! We have had events we have had to cancel, venues who have not understood our intention, gatherings that have gone ahead with no profit to our organisation and people who have registered who have asked for more than what was offered but, there is a turning point… and it’s based on transparency, relationships, trust and faith!
So… we pursue! We do this because of our belief in the work of “building capacity to build capacity” and because we have a firm belief in sharing collective knowledge and empowering others to be a part of the benefits of this approach!
As community service workers and professionals, aren’t we all trying to help communities thrive? Isn’t the purpose to inspire community members to be a part of the whole?
At our gatherings, we build an intentional village; we believe that everyone has something to offer and no one should miss out on attending something they are passionate about! So, we ask people what they can offer to the event; can they monitor the registration desk? can they offer an activity? will they help in the kitchen or clean up the room after each day is finished?
We started attempting to apply these concepts at our first Unconference in 2013. For that particular gathering, we had a regular registration fee but, we added one simple line to the form that read, “The Unconference is completely funded through the registration fee. Every effort is made to ensure the registration fee is modest, covers expenses and offers a fair remuneration to the key-agitators team. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss your financial position further” and we had 60 people turn up to a non-traditional conference!
Fast forward to this year and we are extremely pleased to be working with Purpose Partners in Queensland, who are also on their own similar journey, and we are co-hosting 2 Art of Hosting events in Brisbane and Sydney where the participation fee details read as follows;
$A500–A$900 (excluding GST)
An important learning we have been working with is how to appreciate and honour the diversity of economic factors that would encourage people to join us in participatory leadership work.
We invite you to be in this learning with us as we look to cover all costs, contribute to the economy of the international community and pay a reasonable fee to the hosts of the training.
We offer a sliding scale of $A500–A$900 (excluding GST) that will include participation in the 3 day training, food and resources and encourage you to consider how you can be part of this amazing experience.
You get to decide what you consider to be a fair price, or within your training budget, and then we request that you consider offering a little more which could support others to attend.
If this is still beyond your capacity, please talk to us, or indicate this on your registration form. Help us walk our talk to assist as many willing people as possible to attend.
This might seem like a gamble to some people and I guess it is, of sorts, but we have witnessed the giving nature of people who are more than willing to reciprocate when they understand that we are not in it to make a buck or two (or 800) from them.
We have “return customers” (or friends, as we like to call them) who get excited when we announce a training, workshop or gathering and many of those friends turn up early to help set up the space, they donate their gifts and time and they stay afterwards to help us pack everything away.
We believe it takes a village to change humanity and with openness and trust, we’re witnessing the start of something quite phenomenal! With the overwhelming generosity of our friends (new and old) and the grateful relief of non-financial people who register, the hugs are a bonus!