[hackerspaces] Hackerspace as a co-op?

Far McKon farmckon at gmail.com
Wed Nov 23 05:20:56 CET 2011

There is a big difference between something that is functionally owned
by it's members (aka, coop by action) and a legal cooperative.

cooperative by action:
Many hackerspaces act as a cooperative, such that all members are
owners of the organization, and have voting rights. (As opposed to a
few board members run the nonprofit, and members have little or no

One of the downfalls of cooperative style management is having people
take ownership.  Some hackerspaces have members that would rather do
the 'buy a gym membership' model than 'we are a cooperative
mini-democracy' model.   For the people that fall into the first case,
trying to run things in the second case can burn them our, or
frustrate them. And vice-versa.

cooperative by law:
It gets to be a state by state thing at some point. Some states have
easier reporting for taxes for cooperatives, others for state
nonprofits, others for the new 'For Benefit' types of entities. Your
Mileage May Vary, I Am Not A Lawyer. If you are a cooperative, check
how the state taxes 'profits' from the entity. Cooperatives,
for-benifits, or technically for-profit (but just to be filed) may
cause a tax burden on members since end of year cash on hand can be
counted as 'income' in some states.

Most spaces I don't see a need to be a federal 501(c)3. very few
spaces get donations where tax deductions play into it.

Yoy may want to check out Space Federation if you just want to start
hacking on things. They are a national org for hacker/maker/art spaces
that can/will act as a 501(c)3 sponsor. e, they accept donations,
verify you are using them in a way that matches nonprofit standards,

In short:
 I think cooperative in action can make a great hackerspace, or can
burn people out. Cooperative by law is a state by state situation.

Just another 0$.02, Hack on,
- Far McKon

http://www.FarMcKon.net "Creatively Maladjusted"

On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 8:27 PM, Will Bradley <will at heatsynclabs.org> wrote:
> I understand what a co-op hackerspace might look like, but I don't think
> it's a contentious question... for example HeatSync isn't a "co-op" per se
> but it is a 501c3 nonprofit whose members get to vote in the board of
> directors and also participate in self-governance via proposals and votes at
> regular meetings. But there is still a board, an organizational bank
> account, we're a registered nonprofit corporation with the state.
> I suppose a co-op would include more strict language in its bylaws
> indicating that paying members are all given an equal vote and are the
> highest authority in the organization (as opposed to a board-based org.)
> But colloquially, I'm pretty sure that some form of member self governance
> is a very common feature of hackerspaces.
> On Nov 22, 2011 5:34 PM, "Rubin Abdi" <rubin at starset.net> wrote:
>> Rhys Rhaven wrote, On 2011-11-22 15:11:
>> > What do you mean by co-op?
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co-op
>> --
>> Rubin
>> rubin at starset.net
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