Getting what you deserve
If you know anything about Stitch, you know we’re not a normal company.
By that, I mean we are not driven by the goal of making as much money as humanly possible. We are driven by something much more important: improving the lives of each and every one of our members.
If you don’t believe me, stop reading this right now. Go and read the following two articles and only come back here when you’re done:
… waits a bit …
… makes a cup of tea …
… thinks about taking a nap …
Oh, you’re back? That was quick! (Shame, I was looking forward to that nap, but I’m impressed you’re such a quick reader.)
OK, so you now know a bit about our background and what drives us.
But it’s not just me you need to understand, it’s all the incredible Stitch members doing so much to improve the lives of their fellow members by enriching the Stitch community.
I could give you thousands of examples of Stitch members doing inspirational things simply because they believe in the capacity of the community to do good, but here are just a few:
- Sydney member Vivien has hosted monthly get-togethers for Stitch members which have been attended by over 600 Stitch members in the last 12 months … bringing joy to each and every one of those members!
- Oregon member Marcie has been managing the Stitch Facebook page on a volunteer basis over the last couple of months, because she believes so much in what we’re doing
- Sydney member Vicki has personally dropped Stitch flyers into hundreds of letterboxes in her neighbourhood in order to grow the community in her area!
- The recent Stitch Global Get-Together in Monterey was completely organized by Stitch member volunteers who wanted to contribute to their fellow Stitchers!
All these members are doing things to enrich the community, and they all have one thing in common: they’ve all told me they get more enjoyment out of the community than people who don’t contribute.
(This actually isn’t as strange as it may seem: scientific research has firmly established that doing things for others activates the same pleasure centers in the brain as food and sex, and directly contributes to our happiness. We are, it seems, hardwired to be altruistic: and this is particularly the case when we give our time and effort to help others, rather than just donating money.)
But still, it doesn’t seem quite fair…
As much as we are inspired by these awesome members, it doesn’t quite seem fair that Community Champions do so much for others without getting some kind of personal recognition.
Members who try to get a Stitch community going in their areas don’t always receive the thanks from their local members that they deserve, either, and we are very aware of how hard it is to grow a community on goodwill alone.
There is, however, one thing we all have in common: whenever the Stitch community grows, the more EVERYONE benefits.
And the more Stitch grows, the bigger the positive impact it is able to make. It’s a great example of a virtuous cycle.
So we asked you what you thought
At the recent Global Stitch Get-Together in Monterey, we had a brainstorming session with all the attendees about this issue.
We wanted to do two things:
- Raise awareness of the best ways for each member to have a positive impact, and
- Identify how to best reward the members who do the most for the Stitch community.
Everyone was particularly struck by my comments that, if we can’t get members to do more to help enrich and grow the community, we are ultimately going to have to seriously consider closing our doors.
That would be terrible for everyone, wouldn’t it?
Here are some fun facts we shared:
- If every one of our members got just a single new member to join, Stitch would be positioned to have the biggest impact on social isolation of any organization in history
- If every member organized, on average, just one activity per year, we would be able to grow the membership in those areas by a factor of 10
- Every single dollar in membership fees goes towards keeping the community running, and benefits everyone in the community
With that in mind, we needed a reward system that provides benefits to all members for helping enrich and grow the community, while still retaining the wonderful spirit of altruism that is at the heart of Stitch.
We wanted to find a way to recognize members who contribute the most, but also raise awareness of the most significant ways you can help the community. We needed a reward system that could:
- Measure how much people had contributed, and
- Give them a way of benefiting from their contributions
Here is what we came up with.
Stitch Membership Points
In the next few weeks you’re going to start seeing the concept of Membership Points appearing inside Stitch.
Simply put, Membership Points are a way to quantify the positive contributions that a member has made to the lives of other Stitch members through the Stitch community.
You will initially be able to earn Membership Points in one of three ways:
- Getting a new member to join
This is the biggest contribution any member can make, as getting enough members is ultimately the only thing holding Stitch back from giving all our members what they need: companionship.
This is therefore going to earn you by far the biggest reward.
We’re also going to be giving all members some resources to help them spread the word about Stitch beyond their immediate circles too, so there is no limit to how many points you can earn by helping the community grow.
- Hosting a Stitch event
Every event posted on Stitch, no matter how small, makes the community better. Everyone who creates an event will earn Membership Points, and the more people who attend your events, the more points you will earn.
- Renewing your membership subscription
Simply being a paid member of Stitch is the easiest way of contributing to the health of the Stitch Community. You will accumulate Membership Points each time your membership subscription renews.
All these points will accumulate over time as long as you remain a paid member of Stitch.
For the members who have been with us from the very beginning, that means you may find that you’ve accumulated a significant number of points, particularly if you’ve been regular posting events on Stitch.
Sounds nice, but so what?
Of course, the idea of accumulating Membership Points isn’t very useful if those points don’t actually mean anything.
We’re only interested in the idea of a loyalty program if Membership Points are going to bring a real, tangible benefit.
So that’s why we’ve been looking at the best way to turn those points into actual benefits for the member who earns them. It is also why I’m writing this article, as we want to get your input!
Apart from making your profile stand out more to other members on Stitch, here are the three main concepts we are considering:
1. Giving you discounted memberships
It would seem fair that the people adding the most value to the community shouldn’t have to pay the same membership fee as everyone else. So one obvious way to give back to our members is to provide discounts based on the number of points you earn.
If you earn a certain number of points in a calendar year, for example, your next membership renewal may be reduced by 25%, 50%, 75%, or even 100%.
Some members contribute so much to the community that they deserve a free membership, don’t you think?
2. Giving you gifts and rewards
Instead of discounts on Stitch membership, one alternative is to provide gift vouchers and other benefits to the members who do most for the community. Think an Amazon gift voucher, for example, based on earning a certain number of points.
3. Giving you a “share” of the community
Finally, one of the more radical ideas we are considering is giving our most active, long-term members a more tangible ownership of the community itself.
Currently the idea of providing any form of equity ownership of Stitch to members is not possible because the existing corporate structure of Stitch, along with regulatory requirements in the territories in which Stitch operates, impose obligations on Stitch that we are not yet in a position to meet.
Recent changes to the rules around crowdfunding in countries such as the US and Australia, however, mean that such an idea may be possible in the future, provided it received enough support from our members to make the legal costs of implementing it worthwhile.
In its broadest concept, any member who had accumulated points over a long enough time period would be entitled to an actual equity share in Stitch, as part of an associated public crowdfunding offering. If Stitch is ultimately successful commercially, it would provide a long-term tangible benefit to those members who had helped to get it there: the ultimate win-win.
Even without a formal equity component, it could give those members a greater say in how the community is run, voting rights on particular issues, and so on.
Either way, it would put true meaning behind the idea that Stitch members truly “own” the community.
So what do you think?
All of these ideas are possible, depending on which ones you think would be most likely to get you motivated to help grow Stitch. And naturally there may be plenty of other ideas that you have that may be even better.
So we want to hear from you about what you think!
Which benefits do you think are best for you, and best for the community?
Do you have any concerns about providing some kind of reward and recognition for members based on how much they contribute?
What other thoughts and suggestions do you have?
If you’re not a member, feel free to leave your comments below, as we’re just as interested to hear what you think. Maybe the very idea of benefiting from a community you can help build will convince you to join!