for LETS -
updated March 2015
Some groups are using commercially available e-lists
or have adapted html websites, etc. However these tend to
be a compromise, and will require in-house expertise, and
fail when the person doing it moves on. In 2008 we surveyed
dedicated software for running LETS. Our quest was to find
software that organisers will be able to use independently,
by logging on, enabling them to run their groups in a familiar
way, but improving the extent to which tasks can be shared
out. Based on these criteria, we homed in on "Local Exchange"
enhanced it considerably for use in the UK, and this is still
the best option we can offer groups at the present time,
The software creates an attractive, user-friendly, customisable
website, which can be added as a private "members' area"
to an existing "brochure" site. The public can view
notices on parts of the site plus Offers & Wants, but
no member-details are visible. People cannot sign themselves
up to the site, so the organisers will still be able to exercise
the usual cautions when enrolling new members. Adjacent to
the software we therefore provide an enquiry and/or application
form which delivers an email message to one or more of the
New members receive a random password, which they can change
on the profile page, where they can also edit their own personal
information. They can view, sort, and select by location from
the list of members -NB street addresses are not visible.
Members can also create, edit and delete their Offers and
Wants listings, and turn off their listings if they are going
away. They can view their own and any other members' balance
and exchange history, record exchanges, view their own and
other members' feedback, make payments to other members' accounts,
and give feedback after a trade. They can also view the trading
history of whole scheme, including payments from the system
Core-group members have access to another set of functions,
enabling them to create and edit accounts on behalf of other
members. They can view a list of members not yet logged on,
so they can be aware and make arrangements for any members
who need support to start trading or manage their account.
They can also create and edit news items and upload and delete
newsletters. So a range of technical and pastoral functions
can be shared amongst committee members and the tasks of enrolling
and supporting members can be devolved to local representatives.
Another set of functions apply at the administrative level,
including making transactions on behalf of members, reversing
any errors, taking monthly fees, activating or inactivating
accounts, creating or deleting listing categories, and exporting
data for back-up purposes. Email enquiries are received from
the enquiry box and messages can be sent to all members. These
functions may be carried out by a single co-ordinator, or
will more usually be shared between an "administrator"
and a "chairperson".
Links to groups already using the software are now being
logged on www.localexchange.org.uk
- in most cases you need to click to members area to view
the interactive site. To view this page
online, and access the links, go to: http://letslinkuk.net/practice/software.htm
Enquiries about the software should be made
not via the local websites but directly to: email@example.com