HOMEPAGE /PAPERS


UK LETS and Complementary Currencies
Development Agency

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ARTICLES,
PAPERS &
REPORTS
published by
LETSlink UK

GUIDELINES for WEBSITE UPGRADES and GOING ONLINE

"Going Online" means enabling members to access their accounts via the internet to update them and carry out transactions, and providing additional access for management group members to oversee their own special functions. It involves installing software which has been designed specifically to run LETS either as a self-contained site or as the back-end of an existing site - if the group already has one.For an existing group the process involves transferring membership data, and ensuring continuity with the management of the group. On the basis of the projects undertaken so far, we have identified a series of essential steps.

Our first consideration is the 'health" of a LETS. Groups vary in the level of resources they have amongst their membership and how well the managent group is operating. Difficulties may have arisen through key people leaving, lack of technical or management ability, conflicts, failure to outreach, or just loss of enthusiasm. We have found some groups operating without a constitution, which makes it difficult to know what to do when things go wrong. Unless the group's membership package remains attractive, members may drift away into friendly cliques, and lose interest in supporting a formal scheme. Organisers may approach us for support when there is confusion or apathy, or when when one person is doing all the work. The good news is that web-based systems enable LETS to be managed more easily and effectively.

Some groups are reluctant to change their administrative methods, and if they are coping well with the system they already have, we will not press them to go online. It may require a real crisis and a change of management before there is a will to go through the necessary steps, and this may require detailed "group process" work. We can do this, but because of pressures on our time, we need to know that the group is ready and willing to take advantage of software before taking on the work, which may require an extended consultation process within the scheme. Groups may carry out a modest form of self-appraisal and communicate the results to LETSlink, by filling in an extended version of our renewal form. This may provide sufficient background, but in some cases we won't know what's needed without a visit.

Some organisers will want to proceed one step at a time. Others will want to complete as soon as possible. The table below summarises the process. It can be customised for each group to become an Action Plan, with an agreed Timescale and a Project Budget. Once we have agreed the action plan, and the group has carried out any consultation deemed necessary amongst the membership, we will invoice the group and request payment in advance either for the total, or by negotiation we may agree payment in stages or on the basis of shared income - see below. Once the project has begun, the Core Group undertakes not to entertain controversy about it amongst the wider membership but to focus on successful implementation.

1Telephone Contact Numbers are updated free of charge on the relevant county page on the LETSlink UK website as a free-of-charge emergency procedure at any time. This is seen as a way of establishing friendly contact pending any further commitments being entered upon. We link to the website of any genuine LETS group in good faith on a reciprocal basis. Annual Fees
One-off Fees
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2The group becomes a member of LETSlink UK - more details are on this page - and agrees to work within its guidelines, sending a current subscription - plus arrears in sterling to the extent that it can afford - any gaps in back-subscriptions will be put on record on the national exchange account for the group, so that the lack of sterling funds do not prevent groups from participating.
Minimum £25 p.a. plus optional donation of £25 per year for "lost" years.
3LETSlink updates the Referral Form on the foot of the county page to include an email address for the group, if this has not already been set up for other known groups in the county. Any back-log of local referrals is then forwarded to that email address. New referrals will go to all groups in the county whose email addresses are included in the "Local" form.  
4A Domain name and Email address may be set up for the group if it doesn't already have one. This could be based on an existing or new domain name which we may obtain on behalf of the group, or a letslink address. Either way, we will manage the email addresses. £10 or £20 p.a. including emails.
5An initial web-page may be set up for the group, incorporating the group's logo, and a contact form which sends messages direct to the relevant person/s in the group. This may be developed into a brochure website incorporating the group's existing documentation, or where this is lacking, a standard form of constitution and rules will be provided. The group may be happy to pause here, and continue with existing systems, until they are ready to proceed further. £30+ we will quote based on the group's requirements.
6 • Consultation by phone, or at meetings may be carried out at appropriate points in the process, the aim of which is to find out how the group does things, identify any issues, demonstrate the software, and inspire confidence amongst members that the system will enhance the functioning of the LETS and/ or to provide individual training to the core group. The group undertakes to cover all travel expenses and accommodation in addition to any set fees agreed.
£50+ depending on length of time needed, and whether travel is involved.
7 • Roles of Core Group members are analysed to clarify how they will engage with the chosen online system: this is the basis from which any special requirements for the software site are derived, and LETSlink will make recommendations regarding existing roles, or new ones that may be needed. LETSlink may need access by email and phone to members of the Core Group individually in order to achieve this analysis, and will in effect need to become a memer of it.
£50+ depending on whether a visit is involved and how much debate takes place.
8 • LETSlink sets up and hosts the software site, making it compatible in appearance with any existing brochure website, or as a self-contained site. Either way, it will be customised to the particular requirements of the group, including the groups documentation if not already incorporated into a brochure site. The site may be installed in a hidden space requiring a group password, or may be partly visible to the public, according to the preference of the group.

£50+ depending on number of non-standard requirements and alterations.

9 • The Group sends their current data in the form of a spreadsheet exported from their updated database. This will normally include account number and contact details for all past and present members, plus join date, renewal date or date last traded where relevant, and balance of account. Directory information (Offers & Wants) will be added by individual members or the Directory Editor on their behalf once the site is up and running - having adjusted the directory headings if required.
 
10 • LETSlink transfers the Member Data into the database behind the site, and initiates the Core Group accounts. LETSlink keeps this data confidential, and will nornally communicate only with the Core Group. For new groups, the data may be largely derived from new applications direct to LETSlink UK, who will manage the initial enrolment procedure on behalf of the group.
£50+ depending on quality of the data received.
11 • LETSlink provides training to Core Group, at the appropriate level so that they may carry out their particular roles and assist members to access the site. Once the site is in place, it is essential that training of Core-Group members and initiating members takes priority over all other work, to minimise the period "between systems". For most groups this will also involve setting up a buddy system (ie one-to-one support and training) to ensure that all members are included.
£50+ depending on length of time needed, and whether travel is involved.

12 • LETSlink maintains hosting of the site and resolves any problems arising with the existing system. Renewal fees for the site hosting and email addresses are added to the annual group membership fee. We will update the site periodically in respect of new developments at our discretion, and give very favourable rates in respect of new specific features which may be requested, but will aim at the outside to enable core group members to add new information to the site independently.

£20 - per annum.

BUDGET NOTES

The software we are using is opensource, which means that it is made available to the community at no cost by enthusiasts who are motivated by working for the common good. Amongst the LETS community there were be numbers of people who are interested in software and can assist not just your own group, but others to go online. If you are interested in the technical side, we are building up a community where the information about different types of software can be collated, and discussed, see: CXSS.INFO.

LETSlink is not just interested in the software, but in building up a community of understanding about management and political issues. Because of resource constraints, we can only engage with groups who are paid-up members - which still only costs £25. We aim to keep costs low and accessible to groups who have low sterling income. Groups can use accumulated funds if they have sufficient, so we have quoted low minimum costs. However if funding is available we will be able to quote rates which are more compatible with market rates.

Please note that trustees of LETSlink do not receive payments, other than expenses, eg travel and hosting costs. Any payments requested for websites relate to work carried out by contractors, and at the moment are our only source of funding for new start-ups. We are likely to be using local currency for any work we do within our own LETS groups.

At the national level, in order to make it fair between groups who are in different financial circumstances, we will use our own trading currency "links" to make up shortfalls in sterling payments, and we hope that a skills base of technical support will become available to member groups via: www.localexchange.org.uk

One-off costs:
Travelling fees to meetings for analysis and training.
Payment for consultations in person, or by phone, or by email.
Design and installation of Brochure site, including Events page, Enquiry Form, Constitution & Rules, etc.
Customisation of and installation of Software site.
Data transfer into Software site.
Backlog of Membership fees: @£25 per year - this is the cost most likely to be accounted for in "links".

Recurring costs for existing groups:
Annually: Membership £25, Domain: £10, Emails £10, Hosting £20 for either or both sites: = £25 to £65.

Where groups have not been able to raise money in advance, or with new start-ups where there is no existing funding base, we may be prepared to wait for payment, or to receive an agreed percentage of annual sterling income, which enables some sharing of income over different sizes of group, and supports LETSlink UK as an otherwise unfunded organisation.

MF/mf/ 2009 draft updated March 2015

© Published by LETSlink UK, 12 Southcote Road, Tufnell Park, London N19 5BJ