Cost of admin as a co-op in Ireland

I’ve been long worried about the administrative burden essentially for maintaining a bank account in Ireland.

There is no doubt that our community wants to operate as a co-operative. Democratic principles + decision making, shared equity, etc. The question I’m opening up for discussion is whether this requires being registered within a specific geography (Ireland, since inception) or if the same principles could be administered within another framework such as a DAO. (Used VERY loosely as I don’t think a blockchain based system is necessary at all.)

The reason is simple – the cost of administration mainly for the sake of having a bank account is extremely high. We have lots of admin costs (taxes, audits, paperwork, volunteer time) that could be potentially eliminated by choosing to “go virtual”.

Of course this depends on something rather significant – being able to switch to some combination of virtual bank for maintaining hard costs (servers + services) plus paying artists. In theory, a combination of Wise and Open Collective might work.

Honestly I don’t know what the complete solution is. While I’m speaking to the practicalities, this also comes from a personal place – I feel guilty for being on the board while my current life situation doesn’t allow for much time to contribute. And yet I CANT leave the board and make space for others who could commit to more participation almost entirely because of… a bank account. (Please don’t ask me to go into details about our inept old world bank that has archaic paperwork requirements making it stupid expensive and time consuming simply to add or remove access… grrr…)

As mentioned, this proposal is so incomplete that I can’t even call it a proposal. Just a starting point for discussion of alternatives…

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I just want to pitch in that I think it’s really valuable that this is getting brought up, thank you @peter.

To me I’ve always found it weird we’re incorporated in a country where we don’t have much engagement. It certainly puts a lot of pressure on our own board member who does live there!

I’m very wary of everything surrounding DAOs, but I’m curious if you have examples of organizations that do pay-outs etc “going virtual”. Open Collective lets collectives like ours host themselves if you don’t have a bank account, but it doesn’t allow us do pay out to artists etc. I feel like if we’re not incorporated somewhere websites like Stripe just won’t let us use their services (and despite the promises of web3, I think that’s something that will bite those promises in the ass in the long term).

I’m curious what, considering our liabilities in Ireland, closing up shop there would look like? I don’t see it happening soon, but I feel like we need to know all the steps before we can discuss it properly?

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As a resident in the USA with an interest in transnational peer-to-peer organizing, Resonate’s footprint in the EU has always been a major attractor for me. (And if the service proved successful, I imagined that a variety of regional entities could establish a mutual coalition to serve various geographies.)

In terms of EU jurisdictions, Ireland is a reasonably convenient venue and we’ve made great progress in building community with cooperators there. As a matter of history and culture (and music) the Irish struggle against colonial oppression provides a powerful line of solidarity with indigenous movements across the world.

Any entity has a venue for its legal jurisdiction. Open Collective is registered in Delaware with related entities in the EU.

Taxes have to be prepared for any jurisdiction. In my experience the fee Resonate is obliged to pay for preparation of its Annual Report is essentially identical to having taxes prepared by a CPA in the United States. (About $1600/yr.)

I understand that managing the account has been a heavy burden on you @peter. And in general, the Co-op has been under-resourced administratively.

My hope is that a general plan for operations during the DSP building phase (perhaps the next 36 - 48 months) can be presented to members and the co-op’s allies in conjunction with the AGM, such that members can critique and/or endorse a clearly articulated path for achieving stability in the short-term and a set of milestones toward the eventual realization of the service.

I tend to think a united call for internal and external support toward a clearly articulated mission will carry the coop past some of the procedural issues that may seem so vexing at the moment.

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In a few words, could you say how you imagine this support manifesting? You’ve talked about this elsewhere, so I wanted to get a better sense of it.

I’d like to raise 50K by end of year to be in a secure financial footing…

I believe we need to fund the executive and have a DSP and product Roadmap…

I believe a plausible DSP/Product roadmap is key to the outreach that solves the funding issues…

For a variety of reasons opening this to the whole of the community and centering on the needs of successful professional independent artists was never taken seriously by the people managing the platform until the end of last year…

It’s time we call in our allies, like the artists associated with Black Socialists that have been standing by for years, like our incredible Founders list, like our fellow-travelers in the Platform.Coop and DWeb communities, and articulate our plan for a transnational democratic enterprise outside the corporate monopolists.

Resonate occupies a very special place in these communities. Sometimes I think it is difficult for people to see what the project represents beyond their close persynal relations and specific set of urgent concerns.

A slight tangent, but I’m very curious to hear an Irish perspective on this sentiment, as well as an Irish leftist perspective on Ireland’s international status as a tax haven and the presence of so many tech multinationals in Ireland. I feel like we should do due diligence here too.

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That’s fair. I’ll say my position is informed by visiting the island last year and meeting with our founding Secretary Sam Toland and, on a later occasion, professor of global social movements, Laurence Cox. Among other things, Laurence is Kevin Flanagan’s doctoral advisor. Kevin and Sam, and I think @Thom were co-founders of Solid Network (full disclosure I too am a member).

FWIW, Kevin is a doctoral student in anthropology studying coops and social movements in Catalonia, the province where Barçelona is situated, a place with a deep history in autonomous and cooperative social movements and anti-fascist resistance.

Sorry to get 'splainy, but it is probably also worth pointing out that Kevin has served as facilitator for a regional Platform.coop discussion group based in the EU, and (with Thom) has also participated in the CoopCreds project (which grew out of Resonate’s grant funded research with Verifiable Credentials c. 2020-21).

I’m adding all this context for the sake of general situational awareness and to reflect some sense of the time committed to trust-building that has occurred around these topic areas to date.

I am all too aware of how limited and scattered the coop’s social institutional memory is. I embrace the opportunity to offer some reasoning behind some of the conditions of the coop’s legacy and offer response not in the spirit of ‘this is what we must do’ but ’ this is what was done, why I think it was done (when I have a clue) and what it may offer to participants now’.

Everything I offer should be taken with a grain of salt. I recognize that my views diverge from others. I think this is the natural condition of working in collectivity.

Back to my story: It was great for me to get to Ireland and have the opportunity to meet Sam face-to-face, discuss human things like life and family, and speak on our persynal histories with the coop. (I also met our former auditor - but that’s another story). Laurence Cox was the other individual I sought out and was very pleased to begin a human connection with.

Laurence came to my attention by being a facilitator of a network of social movement activists that organized a 30 stop tour of their island by a group of Zapatistas, mostly young women from Chiapas, in October of last year.

I encourage folks to look at Laurence’s work in transnational organizing. His short book, MAKING OTHER WORLDS POSSIBLE was extremely helpful in getting a sense of how local issues and global conditions might be harmonized. He writes from his local perspective but I think the way he addresses the problem is relevant to anyone in any region.

(Sorry to take up so much space. I’ll step back to hope that someone from Ireland or other participants in our meetings with Irish comrades speak up. )

Hi Peter! Why not move bank from Bank of Ireland to a Wise business account? It works pretty well for me. I think the change of jurisdiction, or going to a theoretical ‘no jurisdiction’ / third party fiscal host is much harder, and would require a lot of catching up / closure and additional legal costs. Sorry if you have already considered / tried a Wise account or if I am missing something.

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Bank account is really only one small part of this.

And of course I realized almost immediately after posting why there’s no escape from being registered geographically… liability. We’ll never sign distributors (most likely necessary for scaling) without being a real legal entity.

P.S. Wise isn’t an option at larger bank balances as they actually CHARGE for holding more than 10-20K in the account. (Or somewhere around there.)

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