Artisans Cooperative offers unique and flexible options for joining the co-op to increase accessibility across the economic spectrum. There are three options:
A) Pay in full in cash upfront
B) Pay over time with a payment plan
C) Pay with a combination of non-cash “points” and cash (minimum $10USD)
In this post, we’ll explain the differences and interactions between (B) and (C): payment plans and points pledges.
Artisans Cooperative is running a membership drive to fundraise the start-up costs of the marketplace. For a one-time buy-in investment, cooperative membership provides economic and ownership benefits to both artisans and supporters. Sellers and shoppers who are not members of the cooperative will be able to use the marketplace once it launches, but for those who want to join the cooperative as members, there is more than one way to buy in. All of the three buy-in methods help the co-op create the marketplace.
Our Points and Tiers System
Our innovative Points and Tiers Schedule describes how all kinds of “patronage” contributions can be earned with Artisans Co-op as “points” that can be used either for membership buy-in, or for placement into tiers for distribution of financial benefits of membership (e.g., dividends). Examples of these patronage contributions are: cash ($1 = 1 point), referrals (1 successful artisan referral = 200 points), and a variety of member activities that take time, reflecting an equivalence to the MIT 2023 U.S. average living wage (1 hour = 25 points).
Applying these points toward buy-in is accomplished by signing up to a “points pledge” in the Membership Application. The points pledge is one of the two methods that the Membership Application offers for a member to pay for their buy-in:
- 100% cash (either through immediate full payment, or through a payment plan)
- Points “pledge”: a combination of immediate cash and a pledge to earn the remainder in points, within a
Different Time Windows
Payment plans and points pledges have different time windows. Payment plans are flexible, with multiple options of over a year: monthly or annually, with 1, 2, 3, or 4 year terms. Points pledges are limited in duration: a combination of cash and points needs to be contributed within the pledge window of 12 months. (This is an increase from the previously-published 6-month window, more about that below).
During the payment plan and points pledges windows, the new member receives full membership benefits so long as they are current. However, as noted in the Points and Tiers Policy, these two options cannot be combined. Cash payment plans are ineligible for points pledges – this means that a payment plan cannot be combined with a pledge to earn points toward buy-in.
However, when a member joins with a buy-in payment plan, they can still earn points! Those points do not go toward their buy-in amount; those points are applied to the member’s total points balance, for placement in tiers (for future dividend distributions). Conversely, when a member joins with a points pledge, they can still contribute cash toward their buy-in: cash is converted to points at a rate of $1 = 1 point.
Put another way: when a member is on a payment plan and earning points, those points are not reducing or impacting the payment plan. We realize that having so many options can be confusing. Members may have not seen the two options for buy-in (cash or points pledge) in the Points and Tiers Schedule or may not remember the two options from the Membership Application. In other words, we understand how the lines between payment plans and earning points could become blurred.
Changing your payment Plan
There may be times when a member changes their mind or wants to switch buy-in strategies. Although new members have to select one option at sign-up, any member may switch from a payment plan to a points pledge (or vice versa). To do so, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With this post, we are extending the deadline for the points pledge window from 6 months to 12 months. If you are currently on a points pledge, you have 12 months from your signed Membership Application date to earn the points for the balance of your buy-in. If you have not earned enough points by the end of the 12 months, you’ll be given a chance to pay the balance in cash so you do not lose your work.
For those wanting to understand the maximum time commitment of an Artisan points pledge, this may be helpful to consider: the maximum points pledge possible is 990 points (after the legally-required $10USD cash minimum). Divided by 12 months, that is 82.5 points per month. At 25 points per hour for just member activities, that’s 3 hours and 20 minutes of work per month (50 minutes per week). That’s not even including the other patronage contributions available, such as referrals and handmade verifications. More details on the member activities that earn you points here.
With this post, we are also extending the points pledge deadline to be a Founding Member. As long as you filled out the Membership Application by July 31, 2023, and pay the buy-in in full by September 30, 2023, you will be a part of the Founder’s Circle. We are super appreciative of those Founders who paid in full by July 31 – you made our Phase 1 marketplace possible and are committed to making co-op ownership accessible to all. The reasons for extending the deadline for Founder points pledges are two-fold: we want to encourage sign-ups up to our July 31 deadline, and we have been delayed in rolling out our Handmade Verification process. Many members planned on earning significant points by performing Handmade Verifications, but it has been necessary to delay rollout for approximately a month in order to finesse the program. It’s only fair to delay the Founders Circle deadline by the same amount of time, to give points pledge members the chance to join the Founders Circle.
We appreciate all our members, no matter what buy-in method they choose. We offer three options for maximum flexibility and accessibility because we want everyone who wants to, to be able to become a cooperative business owner with us. Learn more about membership and join us today!
About Artisans Cooperative
We are growing an online handmade marketplace for an inclusive network of creatives: a co-op alternative to Etsy.
Shop the marketplace!