A draft proposal to reconsider the decision on the quote-part for full membership

1. Rationale

The statute of The Reef ASBL sets the amount of full membership fee at 2,000 EUR per household, due only one time. This amount is meant to provide the liquidity to fund the ASBL’s expenses, of which by far the largest one is the feasibility studies for sites we will consider purchasing. A ballpark figure for one feasibility study is 3-4,000 EUR. For completeness of information, botf associate and full members of the ASBL pay a yearly membership fee, which is currently set at 125 EUR.

However, since we approved the statutes in early 2022, the condition of the real estate and construction sector has become more uncertain, due to the global instability associated mostly to the war in Ukraine. There is a scenario in which the instability becomes so huge that we cannot continue with The Reef, and have to put the project on hold. If this happen, we might find ourselves with an extra problem: a lot of money tied up into an ASBL, which is prohibited for transfering money back to its associates.

So, we have a conflict between asking members to put money on the table as a token of commitment, and the risk of having too much money uselessly locked in an ASBL that cannot yet proceed to buy the site. If we decide to not purchase a site for now, the money already in The Reef’s bank account is more than sufficient to cover for all the other costs until, at least, spring 2023 included.

2. Proposed solution 1: provisionally reduce full membership fee

This solution has the advantages of being simple from an accounting point of view, and to be more fair with regards to the existing full members, who have already paid the full 2,000 EUR fee. It has the disadvantage that, for some people, 500 EUR per household is an insufficiently strong signal of commitment to a project that will cost multiple hundreds of thousands of euro per household.

2.1 Make an explicit decision to go on the market for a site

I would like to propose a solution based on a specific decision to be made (presumably around February 2023), on whether to go forward with the purchase of the site. This decision would presumably be made by consensus, with the usual rule that, if someone blocks, they have to propose a solution. Unfortunately this is the kind of decision that is likely to default to majority voting.

2.2 Requesting full membership before the decision to purchase a site

Reeflings are encouraged to request full membership as soon as possible.

  • If they request full membership before completing the confesseur process, the GA grants them full membership pending the outcome of that process. In this case, new full members only pay the membership fee after the positive conclusion of the confesseur process.

*If they request full membership after successfully completing the confesseur process, the GA grants them full membership unconditionally. In this case, new full members pay the membership fee upon being approved by the GA.

2.3 Paying the membership fee before the decision to purchase a site

In both cases, new full members only pay an advance of 500 EUR.

2.4 Staying full members after the decision to purchase a site

If we decide to go forward with the purchase of the site, full members would then pay the rest of their fees, up to 2,000 EUR per household. This would give the ASBL the liquidity to front the cost of the feasibility studies.

2.5 Households who are already full members

Our current full members have already paid 2,000 EUR each. In their case, they would be “bailed out” by the new full members: the first 9 new full members would, then, pay their 500 EUR not to The Reef, but to the extant full members, until the latter have recouped 1,500 EUR out of the 2,000 they have transferred.

3. Proposed solution 2: transform part of the fee into a refundable loan

This solution has the advantage that it maintains the obligation for full members to pay the full 2,000 EUR into the account of The Reef ASBL (though most of the sum is refundable). A bank transfer of this size gets everyone’s attention, and makes people wonder about their commitment to this project. It has the disadvantage that it is not clear that we can give the same treatmentn to the existing full members; in the worst case scenario, we would have a disparity, where new full members recoup most or all their full membership fees, but existing full members do not.

3.1 Make an explicit decision to go on the market for a site

Same as 2.1.

3.2 Requesting full membership before the decision to purchase a site

Same as 2.2

3.3 Paying the membership fee before the decision to purchase a site

New full members pay the entire sum of 2,000 EUR to The Reef ASBL. However, The Reef issues them with a document acknowledging receipt of a loan of 1,500 EUR. We could also draft a convention regulating what happens to this money.

3.4 Consolidating the loan into a fee after the decision to purchase a site

If The Reef as a group decides the conditions are there to purchase a site, the loan gets consolidated into a non-returnable membership fee, and used to finance the feasibility studies for the future Reef, as intended.

3.5 Households who are already full members

This solution is lacking a provision for existing full members. We can probably not transform, ex post, their payments of membership fees into loans. So, that would configure a disparity of treatment against existing full members, against the benefit of a clearer incentive to new full members to only request full membership if they really want to commit to the project.

Makes sense, @reef-finance? Shall we prepare a proposal for one of the next plenaries?


Thanks a lot @alberto for bringing this up.

@reef-finance: do you think it would be possible to finalise the proposal a bit before the plenary meeting of 28/11?

@reef-governance: this is an interesting case study with regard to reviewing a decision that has been taken earlier. In this case Alberto’s proposal is to review a part of the membership process proposal that we adopted by consent on 15/09 (internal link).

In my view it demonstrates the beauty of “good enough for now, safe enough to try”, because it was safe enough one year ago (when we decided on the full membership fee), but in the current economic and geopolitical circumstances there are reasonable arguments to say it is no longer safe enough and a change is needed.

For the review date, the proposal says (on p. 3) “whenever needed”. The governance document is not 100% clear on who gets to decide when it is needed, but my personal preference right now is to keep simple things simple and to just list it at one of the next plenary meetings. I’d like to avoid a scenario in which we become so obsessed with governance that it takes as long as it would in a self-respecting bureaucracy to lift a pencil and get anything done. That being said I think that this is nevertheless a good case study to discuss when we pick up the corresponding item from our backlog.


Back to the original post, here’s a newspaper article (in Dutch) that explains that the construction sector is struggling with the fact that it’s hard to predict what the final price will be.

It’s a small detail, but nevertheless: we need to bear in mind that we adopted a proposal that every household can get a subsidy of 200 euro per person for sociocracy and NVC trainings. I would propose that this subsidy is only granted once we move to the payment of the 1500 euro, because otherwise the 500 euro can be reduced to 100 euro.


A very clear proposal, thx Alberto

Ok, I edited the above into a proposal (internal link), to be discussed in one of the next plenaries.

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Could @reef-facilitation put it into the agenda of one of the next plenaries? It is not an urgent decision, so it can be used as an agenda-filler.

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Hi @alberto , I checked the proposal. Looks good, but I have a question about the final provision. The members who already spent money on trainings will only be able to retrieve the 200 euros once they pay the full membership?

Noted :slight_smile:

@reef-finance, I am having second thoughts on this. My worry is that 500 EUR is not really enough as a token of commitment. I would like to replace it with a system whereby new full members pay the full 2,000 EUR, but 1,500 of these are accounted for as a refundable loan by The Reef ASBL. if we don’t go through with the project, loans are returnable.

This does not account for the current full members, who already paid the full quota as membership, but maybe I can come up with something.


Heads up, @reef-finance and @Lee and @ChrisM: I rewrote the proposal (for now only here on the forum not in NextCloud) to add an alternative solution. To do:

  1. Have a look at my second solution: does it make sense?
  2. Should Team Finance decide between the two solutions first, then bring only one proposal to the plenary? Or should we bring both solutions to the plenary? I lean towards a team decision for only one of the two solutions.
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I like this idea! I would go for bringing only one solution (would make things easier and faster), but let’s see what others think.

Thanks, Alberto. I put a few minor comments and tracked changes in the Nextcloud document the other day. About this revised version: I’d agree with Ugne about Team Finance/Legal going to the plenary with one proposal only.
I feel we would need to clarify the use of some words : here we talk about a “full membership fee” while the convention (approved 15/9) refers to a “contribution to the operational fund” (the latest appearing more aligned with the statute, imho).
(If I got it right, this convention would now have to be changed (“2000” euros to “500”) at the very least)

@alberto I’m also in favour of coming forward with one proposal, but I think it would be good for the sake of documenting if you could explain the reason for dropping the other alternative in the section “reasoning behind the proposal”. Could that work?


Also noted.

It would have to be changed, indeed.

Ok, now I changed the proposal document on NextCloud to reflect this second version. I do think we need a short team meeting to decide on this. @VickyVanEyck was organizing one, how is it going?

Also, I specifically want to hear from @ugne and @Lee, as we are the people who have already paid 2K EUR, and not served by this decision.

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Thanks a lot @alberto. I provided some comments in the document.

The most important ones:

  • I would leave out the part on the membership requests. This is another topic IMHO.
  • I would like to see it specified that the loans are converted to donations once we start scouting, as we will need this money to be available to pay the architects for the feasibility studies.

On the fact that this system cannot be applied to the founding members, my view is that this is the price of sticking your neck out. We decided to go for it and so we knew that this entailed some risks. I am thus perfectly fine with it.

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It is, but the question is sure to come up. I think it is important to emphasize, as part of the proposal, the need for speed.

I will make this change.

My concern is that this will lead to confusion. These are two different problems, so they require two different proposals. The one on conditional membership (pending green light from the confesseur) is already in this post: Becoming a Full Member?

Hi @reef-finance & @alberto ,
I echo Lie, i am comfortable with this decision.