Ideas for SoFA Revenue Generation

I know there was a thread on the members-only category about how SoFA can generate more revenue, but since I’m not a member and I had ideas (after seeing Ted’s email about donations), I thought I’d create a thread here. This is meant for SoFA to read, but it’d probably be nice to get ideas from everyone, since ensuring that SoFA stays financially sustainable means that all of us get to enjoy its resources for longer.

There’s a lot of value in the free resources SoFA provides, but it’s a bit like with all the other great info online - it’s available and free/cheap, but people may not realize its value, partly because it may take quite a bit of time to understand it and apply it - it doesn’t immediately solve a problem that someone has right now, like a physical object might.

So I think that’s an area for SoFA to explore. Consider, “In what moments/situations have I been most grateful for sociocracy?” Name the problem you were facing, and there you have a business opportunity - every organization that has ever experienced that problem arguably has a demand for sociocracy. Not all orgs can willy-nilly hire someone, but some–especially the bigger ones (who also suffer from many governance problems)–can afford it. SoFA can offer to “drop in” a facilitator to solve that specific problem. I am thinking for example of Sara in the residential school in We the People (p. 143).

Controversial decisions seem particularly ripe for a sociocratic facilitator to intervene - a very specific high-emotion problem that could soon turn into relief through sociocracy. Given the value of some business decisions (consider Endenburg’s company converting some staff into marketers in a market downturn and keeping most of them on instead of firing them), I can see businesses being willing to pay heavily for such services. Even losing one employee because of a controversial decision can cost an organization a pretty penny. There are tons of other business problems sociocracy could solve as well - SoFA members are probably better versed than I.

I know sociocracy is about self-governance, developing the organization’s own members’ abilities to govern themselves, but I think having these small and powerful “tastes”/samples of sociocracy would create the interest/demand for more sociocracy. Perhaps after one or more sessions where SoFA facilitators helped solve a business problem with sociocracy, an organization would be interested in implementing some practises permanently, and then adopting more and more practises until the whole organization turns sociocractic.

I think there’s a lot of value in starting small and gradually scaling up, just like every video game “hooks” you with easy tasks first and keeps increasing the difficulty to keep you engaged - you don’t tackle the boss on your first minute of game play. Likewise, perhaps instead of trying to get organizations to transition wholesale to sociocracy, it would be more practical to set it up so they can gradually adopt it.

Even if the organization who receives help then forgets about sociocracy, perhaps those individuals in the org who were exposed to it could spread it to other organizations they’re currently in or to orgs they join in the future. There are lots of good ideas out there in the world, but nothing quite convinces people of the value of something as seeing it elegantly resolve a problem that’s currently causing them frustration.

In that sense, I wonder, if to appeal better to big companies that could afford these services, SoFA could have a “child” organization / website without “sociocracy” in its name and stress its facilitation/business problem resolution services. Most people in big organizations looking for facilitation services probably wouldn’t search for sociocracy. Sociocracy being associated with intentional communities, cohousing, cooperatives, independent schools, etc might hurt its marketing as well - people might think it’s an obscure, radical, liberal, “hippie”, small-scale idea (stereotyping here!) instead of seeing how it could bring tons of value to any organization, big or small.

This “child” org could be branded very professionally. You could have testimonials of how happy previous clients were, etc. :slight_smile: This may sound perhaps too corporate/ big biz /mainstream for some here, but there’s nothing fundamentally wrong about it that I see. You can of course link to the business org on the SoFA website and link to SoFA on the business side’s website (in an inconspicuous spot), so traffic from one aids the other.

SoFA wants as many people to know about sociocracy as possible, so I think it’s wise that it offers lots of online materials for free–consider how popular Wikipedia or Facebook would be if they charged for use. Free users arguably “pay” by possibly spreading SoFA materials and sociocracy - these users are like free marketers. Instead, charge organizations who can pay for special services.

Maybe you all already do this or have considered these points. If so, thanks for reading. It was fun to think about this :slight_smile: I’d love to hear any other thoughts.

2 Likes

Charles, my name is Adrian and I am an ordinary SoFA member.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

As I know, sociocracy encourages the exchange of creative ideas, the contribution to the promotion of sociocracy so that it becomes known in every corner of the world, the constructive feedback and in general the progress obtained by evaluating the results already obtained and the optimization of the previous decisions to become more effective and efficient in obtaining the results we are looking for.

As you probably already know, SoFA is organized into domains that each have a mission and specific aims.

I guess those in the proper circle will read your message and could be inspired by it.

Meanwhile, why not become a member yourself, find more about sociocracy and be involved in spreading the word, in case you feel so?

There are many events, trainings and conferences and there is still a huge opportunity to grow on all layers.

Humanity itself could benefit from sociocracy to become more human related, is it?

I guess there are some friendly people here to interact with, me being just one of them.

Anyway, feel welcome to come closer, explore and discover more about sociocracy.

Books are a wonderful resource for knowledge, one that I enjoy day in and day out.

There are many other resources on the site and here, in the discussion forum. If you are interested, I invite you to read some of my own posts as well.

Thank you for your presence and contribution,

Adrian, your (possible) friend.

1 Like

I’ve heard feedback that the term “dynamic governance” (which is sometimes used instead of sociocracy) and translating some terms into corporate speak (“buy-in” instead of “consent”) could help with this.

I really really like this idea! A small test could be to just spin up a landing page offering these services.

1 Like

Hey there!

Thank you SO much for taking the time to write your ideas down, @charles.pan !!

It is true that some of those ideas have already come up but it’s super relevant feedback to us to hear them again!
As for the facilitator dropping in, there is a brand-new service that we haven’t been able to place successfully - if you have ideas on how to do it better, I’d love to hear them. Find a facilitator - Sociocracy For All As I said, it’s brand-new and was meant as an experiment to see how it lands.

Yes, that is also a hot idea that I’m thinking about a lot, and I agree with everything you say. There’s a good chance exactly that is going to happen.

Tagging @shala.massey and @phouben and @hope.wilder @jerry.koch-gonzalez here because both those topics are relevant for them as well.

2 Likes

Thanks for all the responses!

Ted, great to see that there’s already movement on this idea!

I honestly don’t have too much business experience, and I realize the “Find a facilitator” page is only an experiment right now, but some ideas for it:

  • This would depend a bit on what audience you’re aiming at, but if you want to appeal to “big/conventional businesses,” I might consider removing/replacing the term “sociocracy” on the whole page (except where you can’t remove it, like the website name). If you’re trying to serve sociocratic organizations though the page seems fine. I feel it doesn’t really work to use one page to appeal to both. A local insurance company probably wouldn’t see themselves when they read “non-sociocratic organizations looking for support with complex meetings” - the page itself requires people to know what sociocracy is, and the number of people who know what sociocracy is is quite limited.

  • For the list of orgs you work with, I might instead list: Businesses from starts-ups to multinationals with thousands of employees, Government departments and agencies of all levels, Schools and universities, Non-profits, Community and faith-based organizations, etc.

  • I might add a list of problems you can help solve, like: Decisions dividing your organization’s staff and members, Handling big changes in the organization or in your field, Recurring tension about who gets to decide, Ensuring tasks get carried out well without micromanagement, Fitting tasks to people’s interests and skills regardless of job title, Making sure important meetings stay on time and get things done, Incorporating the interests of many stakeholders without bogging down decisions, etc.

  • I might consider taking down the information about pricing - a big business that’s able to pay $300/hour probably wouldn’t like to know that you charge a smaller organization $50/hour for the same service. And they don’t need to know! :slight_smile: I’d instead tell them the fees after they’ve reach out to you and you find out what kind of organization they are, where they’re located, etc. A smaller organization could still be charged less - not having that info doesn’t necessarily scare them off. Likewise I’d take down the discount info and just inform them about it once you’re in contact with them.

  • It seems like a lot of information to provide to get into contact. It can be a barrier to people reaching out. I would consider minimizing the amount of info they need to provide up front to the bare essentials to get them in contact ASAP. You can ask for more info in follow-up emails/calls/etc. Once people are in contact, I suspect it’s much more likely they’ll keep the conversation going and become a client. There’s a reason I think that most business websites make getting into contact with them quite easy. Maybe just ask for their contact info and the key details you use to determine pricing so you know what price to tell them when they ask.

  • I’d also suggest trying to get them on the phone (or at least clearly offering that option) - there’s a lot more I feel that gets communicated over the phone, and it builds trust/confidence, which is important if they’re going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on your services. I realize SoFA works with people from around the world in different languages and has a limited budget so you guys have good reasons to keep things asynchronous. You could still schedule calls during hours and in languages SoFA staff can handle. It’s probably worth the time finance-wise :slight_smile:

  • I’d probably include examples / case studies / testimonials of clients you’ve helped and what difference they’ve seen. This helps solidify to potential clients the value you can bring. The case study in We the People helped sell sociocracy to me for example. It’d probably be good to have cases with a variety of problems/services. Of course, these clients would need to agree to it. Cases are a bit like reviews on Google Maps for example. Think of how much people rely on those!

There are probably tons of good business websites, but here’s one as an example. From what I know of them, they seem to be doing pretty well. They seem to demonstrate quite a few of the points above - using minimal jargon that they briefly explain in their audience’s language; talking about who they help; listing their services; hiding pricing info; a short contact form; inviting people to talk with them (on every page!); brief case studies of past clients.

Hope I’m not over-stepping here. Just some ideas! Again, it’s great there’s a page already!

2 Likes

Hey there
Oh, sorry, one thing wasn’t clear. The find a facilitator program was never aimed at just business so these are two different topics (FAF vs. branding towards business).
I’ll pass this all on as feedback to @shala.massey.

1 Like

Whoops! Sorry! Didn’t mean to provide inappropriate advice.

No worries! I appreciate your advice, and good intentions, @charles.pan

1 Like