Sussex Progressives

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Revenue and Membership survey - results

At the beginning of March, we emailed our supporters with a survey about Sussex Progressives' future funding and membership model. We can now give you the results of that survey.

Thank you to those who completed the survey. 20% of the 529 people who were emailed completed the questionnaire.

You will recall that the survey was a consultation about what to do about two questions that are now presenting themselves as we grow in terms of numbers of people taking part in our events and expressing support. First, how should we regularise the way to generate funds; second, whether Sussex Progressives needs to have a little more formal structure but without losing our freshness and energy.

The following note summarises the findings of the survey and describes what the Sussex Progressives organising team decided to present to a general meeting for decision.

The full report is available here

 Summary of the survey results

Revenue: the top three preferences in terms of funding ourselves are (1) donations at flagship events 65% (2) ticketed events (64%) and (3) membership subscription 52%.

People who commented expressed the need to find solutions that were flexible, offered choice and took account of affordability by people of different financial positions.

On the issue of subscription, respondents were split 52:48 about whether the subscription should be specified or left to individuals. A recommended amount for those who can afford it, and a self-chosen amount for those who cannot (or who could afford more) might be an approach that could work. This approach would mean that subscription would not be mandatory.

Membership organisation: most respondents (58%) agreed with the idea of a membership organisation, with 19% disagreeing. Of the majority, the top preferred features were a membership fee and formal accountability for decision-making and spending money.

Of the 19% who did not want a membership organisation, the preference was for a loose network of progressive people and ad hoc financial contributions, that is, much like what we have right now.

There is some anxiety about (a) striking the right balance between more formality (especially on accountability for decision-making and managing money) and retaining flexibility and (b) being clear that meetings are still free and open to all.

We might want to consider whether ‘supporter’s fee’ is more expressive of preferences than ‘membership fee’.

There were helpful comments too about how members might have discounted access to e.g. ticketed events etc. while ‘associates’ paid the headline price.

 What will be put to a general meeting

Funding: our principal way of generating funds should be through (1) donations at flagship events (2) ticketed events and (3) supporters’ subscription. We will actively explore what opportunities there are for grant applications.

Supporters’ commitment will be to ‘be change-makers’ for progressive politics, and specifically, a progressive electoral alliance, in the arenas in which they act.

On the subscription, options might include a one-off joining fee, regular direct debit payments (individual supporters to decide how much they want to contribute) and an option to give organising time instead of money. Of course, for some people, all options might be selected.

The organising team will be setting up a bank account and there must be formal accountability for how money is managed and spent.

Organisation: Sussex Progressives should be seen as a group of supporters who aim to work for progressive politics, and specifically, for a progressive electoral coalition for the next General Election.

Supporters, aside from taking part in meetings, can give their time in four main ways. They can take part in

1.      project groups: these are specific, time-defined, task-oriented initiatives. Example might be to review the supporters’ database and suggest changes to its structure or taking part in the organising group for a flagship event

2.      working groups with longer-term aims. An example might be to promote a progressive electoral alliance in local Labour, Lib-Dem, Green and other parties

3.      fundraiser teams: these would develop a model and actions for raising revenue, for example at festivals and other public events

4.      infrastructure teams: these will work to help make our structure more resilient. Examples might include writing grant applications, following up on direct debit promises and managing our supporter database.

We will be thinking in a bit more depth about these ideas and will be putting them to the next general meeting –this will be in the last fortnight of April, after our Brighton flagship event on the 13th.

Robbie Hirst