Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS) have
been running in the UK since 1985. The basic theory of LETS
was established by the LETSystem Trust, but the task of
co-ordinating the development of LETS in the community fell
to LETSlink UK, which was founded in 1991, in order to meet
the demand for support by the growing number of local groups
springing up around the country.
taking account of feedback from member groups the LETS Info-pack
was developed. Along with background material, it recommended
a form of organisation to support a LETS, using paper-based
administrative systems, that required a high-level of team-work.
Much of the administration can now be done online, but a
high level of co-ordination is still required.
referred to as the Core Group, the management committee
for running a LETS has to combine the requirements of a
democratic community-based organisation, with the demands
of running a technically-based system whose purpose is to
continually replenish itself by outreaching into the social
"market-place". It has to be said that there's
a lot more to it than at first meets the eye.
first model (S) - Single - refers to an individual running
a LETS solo - which is possible if you are multi-skilled
and are prepared to work around the clock. However, most
people enjoy being part of a team. If that's just two, the
work will be divided according to the talents of the partners,
probably along the lines of Publicity and Administration
roles (PA). Below are four different portrayals of working
teams of three or more, which have the potential to scale
up to match the number and skills of the people involved,
and the extent to which they are able to delegate tasks.
(CAST) the organisers have a good grasp of what is involved,
and they all
multi-task, covering a selection of other functions
in addition to traditional committee roles. The key
feature is adopting a portfolio of tasks to suit individual
talents, thus achieving a balance of power.
This person chairs meetings and might
also like to be the co-ordinator, contact and outreach
person, possible producing editorial material for
a newsletter which is put together by the Secretary.
This role covers all the
technical aspects of running the system. It will suit
the aspergic individual whose delight is saying little
but doing all the bits that the others think are really
boring, but could also include training.
Writing up minutes of meetings, designing
publicity material, updating the website, listing
events and communicating both with members and the
outside world can form a valid portfolio of tasks
for the literate individual.
The sterling accountant role can extend
to overall administration, budgeting and fund-raising,
organising buddies, and managing outreach portfolios,
ensuring that local currency is applied creatively
to community projects.
describes three hands-on individuals, who may not need to
meet up formally, except for an AGM, because they are getting
on with the job, and communicating all the time.
T his covers everything to do with
running the actual system, ie creating accounts, keeping
a member list, displaying offers and wants, and enabling
communications, and transactions. The paper-based
model involves photocopying, cheques, postage, and
databases, and requires team-working to spread the
administrative workload. With the advent of web-based
systems these functions can largely be automated,
freeing up energy for other things - NB web-based
systems do not run themselves, but are only the back-end
to the real work of running LETS. However a sound
technical system is the essential foundation.
This means maintaining an overview,
having lots of good ideas, being a people person,
and having good communication skills. This role requires
flair, being able to chair meetings, field enquiries
from the general public and the press, sell the services
of the LETS to incomprehending others such as volunteering
organisations, political groups including anarchists,
council officers, and funders, and generally ensuring
that the LETS has a public profile.
This is about creating occasions for
members to meet, given that people rarely contact
unknown others off a list - they usually prefer to
follow up when they have already met the person socially.
An effective events officer will not only plan events
and outings and encourage members to help organise
them, but will also outreach to existing organisations
who run events, for example complementary health centres
and alternative theatres, and persuade them to accept
local currency in full or part-exchange for tickets.
(MAP) can also be run by a trio, but has the potential
for diversification by developing into three teams,
who each run their own co-ordination meetings. It can
be presented as a hierarchical model, with the management
group overseeing the activites of the other two.
This harks back to the tradition voluntary
sector requirement for the roles Chairman, Secretary
and Treasurer, who jointly run the organisation
by means of formal meetings to decide policy and oversee
the work of the other two groups, who may prefer to
focus on the daily tasks of running the system, and
send in reports to the management group. Having separate
teams like this may work well when there is an "older
generation" who are not too sure about going
online, but who have valuable advice and long-standing
contacts in the community.
As before, this team between them
cover the actual work of running the system. Even
with a web-based system, some specialisation may be
needed as numbers expand. For example the roles of
Membership Secretary, Directory Editor, and
LETS Accountant, can have their counterparts
in a web-based system, and there may be the additional
need for people who offer Technical Support
to make sure the system is backed up and new members
receive initial training.
This role can cover everything from
designing flyers, to placing adverts, dealing with
the press, making sure the LETS is listed in local
websites run by the council and voluntary sector organisations,
to getting on Facebook, running Socials, producing
a Newsletter, running a brochure website, monitoring
a forum, liaising with groups such as Transition Towns
and adopting volunteering projects.
(LAMP) is really a network of local groups, where the
emphasis is on arranging for members to meet up, and
enrolling them into the system, with as little bureacracy
as possible. The other roles work together to provide
In this model the Local co-ordinators
are key. They are multi-tasking networkers who just
want to link people up. They are supported by a technical
system which enables them to enrol people as and when.
In time they might gather a team around them.
This individual works in the background
providing technical support, backing up data, and
ensuring the website is kept tidy. In order to keep
the workload manageable s/he will make sure a buddy
system is in operation. There is potential for evolving
into an administrative team.
This will be a co-ordinator, or in
a more substantial scheme, it will be a committee
who carry out the traditional Chair, Secretary, and
Treasurer roles, deal with funding, delegate work
to individuals, and oversee the scheme.
The emphasis here is outreach in the
community. This wily and politically aware individual
will liaise with groups such as Transition Towns,
work with officialdom, sell the LETS idea to volunteer
bureaux, commandeer plots of land for growing vegetables,
organise swat teams, and also co-ordinate brokers
for member groups, eg drivers, gardeners, childminders
way a LETS management group configures itself, the essential
functions are described by the acronym: LETSdoIT
Fee © Feb 2009 (admin-at-letslink.org)