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. 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 I’d love to hear any other thoughts.