Fair compensation is an important element of participatory processes. This is particularly true for LEAP. Many activists and social entrepreneurs do not have personal wealth or a stable income. They also don’t have the opportunity to get engaged with LEAP as part of their job at another organisation. In some cases, this is also true for the staff of small foundations and other experts that we would like to involve. If we want to be truly participatory in co-designing LEAP, running experiments, and making funding decisions, we have to make sure that a fair compensation scheme is in place. Everyone with the right expertise and motivation must be able to participate.
In February 2021, we had to develop a concrete policy. We had just received the first verbal commitment for funding, and we wanted to offer something to the facilitators, activists, and social entrepreneurs who we want to invite as members of the facilitation team. Once we have diversified the facilitation team, we will re-address the topic. In fact, we intend to re-address it on a regular basis as our community grows and more needs and perspectives need to be balanced.
Here is the link to the first version of our compensation scheme. We identified the values that are important to us when it comes to compensation and settled on two numbers: members of the facilitation team receive 1,100 € / month + VAT for 2 days of work per month, and interview partners receive 200 € + VAT per call. We ask members to only claim this money, or part of it, if they would otherwise exploit themselves. We provide a few guiding questions but ultimately trust members to make this judgment call. So far, LEAP has not paid any compensation. Once we do, we will begin to disclose what we are paying out.
We have learned some lessons that we want to respect in future discussions:
- There is a broad range of values and interests that need to be considered. In our case, these include equal pay, transparency, no self-exploitation, modesty, empowering practitioners, simplicity, acceptance in the sector, and redistributing wealth to poorer countries. It is important to acknowledge these values and interests as legitimate, especially if we need to make trade-offs between them.
- There are vast differences in what is considered appropriate in different sectors and regions. One person’s acceptable day-rate for working with non-profit organisations can be another’s monthly salary. Fortunately, the higher end of what people thought was acceptable in terms of modesty overlapped with the lower end of what people thought was acceptable in terms of self-exploitation and empowering practitioners. This makes us optimistic that given open conversation and enough time, compromises will be possible even as the community grows. We also believe that the amounts we settled on do not go way beyond what others can provide. That would have been an issue, as money should not be the reason for people to join our network as opposed to others who are working on similar issues.
- There are people who realize that working for LEAP without getting paid would be self-exploitation, but who still find it hard to ask for compensation. To address this issue, we need to normalize discussions about compensation, offer compensation to members proactively, and highlight that we are proud to pay members for their contributions.
- One person argued for compensation to be a bit higher than we ultimately decided. During the discussion, they felt defensive and had the impression that others were judging them or even thought they were greedy. In order to avoid this dynamic, we will remind ourselves that people arguing for higher and lower amounts is the very nature of these negotiations, that all values and interests that people bring to the table are legitimate, and that everyone is showing up with good intentions.