Location: The Couchsurfing Project >> CouchSurfing Ambassadors >> Ambassadors Group (Public)
Login for full access to Couchsurfing Groups. Not a member yet? Join our community!

Tahoe?
Posted March 4th, 2009 - 2:58 am from Kinkora, Canada
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 3:15 am by from Melbourne, Australia (Permalink)
I'm guessing it has something to do with why when I login in Perth in the very south west of australia it keeps telling me I last logged in from Melbourne or Sydney on the other side of the country....

Whatever the system they're using to tell that is, it is very dodgy and seems to only see the actual internet gateway of whatever service provider you're using....

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 3:22 am from Vancouver, Canada
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 3:59 am by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Thank you for that, Erin.

I hope in the future we can ask questions like this in a more respectful, less accusatory tone - or perhaps address them to one of the participants via a private message. There is an awful lot of negativity in this group lately, and I feel it's a bit misplaced, considering that we're actually receiving a more consistent flow of information than we've had in months (if not years).

D

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 9:20 am from Leeds, England
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 12:10 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
is that true? that volunteers get a $500/month stipend...which is increased depending upon the number of collectives you've attended? wow.

If so, why in the world is this not public information? It would indeed represent a misuse of donated income...giving money to favored members...not publicly, as with an announced hire, but under the table.

Perhaps now we should start paying popular hosts on a sliding scale per guest number and frequency.

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 7:11 am from Kinkora, Canada
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 2:25 pm by from Perth, Australia (Permalink)
I agree that it is a good thing to stop any bad rumours from starting early, but you also need to understand that so much is happening on the website that we only get to hear about after the fact. Not at all about it upcoming.

For example I was aware that there would be the occasional "excursion" from base camp, but how much is it costing the organisation?

There has been no activity recently on the finance page and when people start to spend money on buying plane tickets and going on excursion with their friends, I think we do have a right to question about this.

Ok, there are now many new employees on the payrole, but wasn't CS hiring an accountant company to do the finances (or at least the reports)? Are we still paying them and if so, why???

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 2:52 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
My concern here is not that these volunteers are not worth the money...I'm sure we are getting a good value in work output for the money spent, since $500/month is really not so much especially in an expensive place like Berkley.

My concern is how this looks: only "volunteers" with close physical proximity to Casey are paid...all other remote volunteers I'm assuming are not eligible for payment (ie: Global ambassadors or busy hosts and organizers, I'm guessing, do not receive a similar stipend?)

This presents a terrible PR image: that if you know and work physically on-site with Casey...you will receive cash. If you work only remotely for CS, you will not.

I would appreciate a list of people who are currently receiving a stipend and if they include short term volunteers (ie: does a 2-week commitment qualify you for $250?)

Do Costa Rican Collective volunteers also receive stipends?

Margaret

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 6:51 pm from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 7:25 pm from Vancouver, Canada
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 10:12 pm by from Queenstown, New Zealand (Permalink)
Why is it that there are some in this world who make squillions from wicked means and nobody really kicks up a fuss {arms dealing, some drug/oil companies, cigarette manufacturing} and then there are those who work in areas that change the world for the good and as soon as they are supported by the organisation people come down hard on them. I've seen this happen to many non profit organisations. There is NO public image damage here...unless.... we percieve it and promote it that way. I agree that it needs to be open, but educating our peers that this is NOT a bad thing. That the bare minimum for living expensis, a little rnr is paid out to those who are donating there time and loss of income to the CS community.Even if they were on a higher "salary" all good !!. The other option is you go volunteer and show them a better solution. In my experience the way I see this organisation heading, there should be more payed members doing this job as well as the volunteers. I've worked with many non profit organisations before and even seen some collaps or nearly collaps because of volenteer burn out. Two or three key members leave and the whole thing struggles. Why do they leave ??. Sometimes we have responibilities to our families etc. If they were payed and payed well the responibilities could be met and the experience would stay. Nothing wrong from making a living from doing something good. Here we are talking about the bare minimum !!.

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 10:32 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
I agree with you Craig on your point of hiring out more CS work...I'm also in favor of hiring professional staff to run CS since the organization, presumably, has the money...and volunteers do indeed burn out; good points.

I think your value judgments on people's jobs being "wicked" or "good" are immaterial (is the guy who pumps gas wicked since he works for the oil and gas industry?) All organizations should provide clear updated financial data, regardless of what they do, especially if they are using donated money. It builds trust in the managers, and CS specifically is a trust-based network.

I'm curious why you think that educating our peers about the spotty financial info is a bad thing. Do you think educated peers perhaps request to be better informed...and that's bad? I think it's good to request solid information.

I'm sorry for being an annoying pest on this issue but I feel strongly about it and don't care about my popularity here. (I'm sure y'all are thinking: "lady, shut up!":)

Margaret


Posted March 4th, 2009 - 8:44 pm by from Vancouver, Canada (Permalink)
How dare the Basecamp folks go on an excursion without the permission of the mighty CS Ambassadors?! For $500 a month, I expect them to be working 16 hour days, 7 days a week. And they shouldn't be allowed to eat meat nor drink anything apart from water. And no smiling.


Posted March 4th, 2009 - 9:23 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
Roy I don't think you understand how serious this could be for CS.

If we ask for specific financial information, we're not trying to poop the party. I sincerely hope the base campers had great snow and tons of fun...keeping an austere lifestyle isn't the issue.

We need to understand how the donated money is being spent specifically so we'll know the nature of what this organization is...and be able to promote its existence with clear minds...is it a charity or not? CS is indeed running on donated funding, since this org doesn't manufacture a product or sell services...so in that sense, yes it is a charity...and it's registered as such. But it has no 501c3, so no federal oversight, and from the financial info provided, it's not clear where the money is going.

Answers would be appreciated...with thanks.

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 11:09 pm by from Vancouver, Canada (Permalink)
Hi Margaret,

As far as I know (which is not saying much) CS is just a "not for profit organisation". I don't recall it ever declaring itself a charity and the 501c3 application is more for tax relief rather than anything else, if I'm not mistaken. But can you really call a travel social networking site a charity? What makes it charitable? Outside of the global traveler community, whom do we help?

Honestly, I can't see CS getting 501c3 status ever. When I first joined CS, I felt that members wanted to change the world for the better. Eg. mobilise forces to do charitable work in communities locally and overseas. These days, CS seems more like Meetup.com + Virtualtourist/Travbuddy. Still lots of fun but minus the whole "save the world" bit, unfortunately. That makes CS more like a donation-based social club than a charity, in my opinion.

Anyway...all this has been discussed to death at least over the last 2+ years. As far as financial transparency is concerned, I recall reading somewhere that we would not have access to anything beyond what was legally necessary. Take that how you will. I would love it if we have financial transparency, as I believe more members would be invested in developing CS's inner-workings and would want to donate time/money to see the long-term survival of this organisation. However, my impression is financial transparency is not a priority and actively seeking cash donations is not a neccessity. Hence I am happy to promote CS with a clear mind, whilst telling people they are not obligated to donate money (or get verified), unless they feel they want to.

Re: stipend

I think I read somewhere that anyone who has volunteered at collectives (and base camp) for at least 12 months will get a US$500 per month stipend. I think it was when they announced the CS jobs. I may have imagined it though...

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 11:13 pm from Oakland, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 11:27 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
sounds charitable to me:) thanks Miri

Actually the legal definition of 'charity' is pretty broad so that's not my issue, Roy...but thanks for your thoughts. Here is:

i work on a grants awarding commission. We are trained to view any charitable org without a 501c3, quite frankly, as a con until proven otherwise...that's simply the climate which surrounds groups who review charities for public funding. It's sad, since I'm sure there are tons of nice people here who work their tails off for no money and with the most earnest of intentions...but that doesn't answer donors who want their money to be properly used (Nomad's not on that list:)

Most of you all are not in my phase of life, having worked for 25+ years and am now in the position to give some away...so that's why I am concerned about these things. Most of my peers won't give to ad hoc charities who are not in possession of a 501c3, not for its tax-exemption status, but because it's had to pass federal government scrutiny for its spending and has had to submit indep audited financial documents (not their brother doing the audit at the kitchen table)

CS should not feel hounded by these requests for financial clarity and spending policy...but should expect them. They're indicative of responsible community at work.

One of my Cs'ers said to me: "you criticize CS because you know how the world works...we just want to spread joy"
So, let's spread the joy...get these policies noted and finances posted and let's go...

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 1:55 am by from Vancouver, Canada (Permalink)
#off-topic

Hey Miri,

Thanks for the update. I remember reading a post by Daniel Hoffer in 2006 (?) about CS Cares but thought the project had been abandoned. Glad that you've picked it up again!

For anyone else interested here's the link: http://www.couchsurfing.com/group.html?gid=3578

Posted March 4th, 2009 - 10:21 pm by from Brisbane, Australia (Permalink)
for me the major issue is the recent post by gadget on commercial use of CS...
it seems that ordinary memeber's are not allowed to use the site for commercial purposes and this has been discussed on a number of threads in a number of forums with a wide range of views...
from gadgets post it seems we have to be careful with making sure we do not use CS for commercial gain unless of course you are part of the LT/collective/base camp...
so roy how do you think this sits with ordinary hosts around the world who gladly give their time for free and even occasional "donate" money via verfication but are told be careful,

*don't set up market places to sell goods between each other
*don't charge for your couch, personally something i agree with but it seems ok for the LT to take "donations" for base camp/collectives and they don't even host..!

CS does allow you to make up items with the CS logo and sell them to cover costs tho' something i totally agree with...
i do understand it costs money to run the website and this isn't a case of sourgrapes cause i do believe casey et al have done a fine job with setting up the website and my life has been enriched by it, however there is so much more potential in something like CS if there is more
*openess
*honesty
*transparency
*support for grass root volunteers (not ski trips but i hear light sabers are popular on the wish list..!)
*belief i was working for a true non-profit organisation

i want to belive that 501c3 is around the corner but it seems to be taking so long and all the recent actions (new logo, look we have a million (yeah, right) members, ski trips) by the LT seem to be leading towards a corporate not charitable organisation...

please someone prove me wrong

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 6:51 am from Newcastle upon Tyne, England
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 9:48 pm by from Brisbane, Australia (Permalink)
sorry danny must disagree but taking money from one party for goods/services and then using it to "pay" another party is commerce, therfore as this seems to becoming more frequent on couchsurfing there is an increasing commercialization of couchsurfing...

tho' maybe should have used "becoming more corporate"
for a couple of years back there i worked for a large american multinational and they would regularly send us away of trips instead of cash bonuses...

as previously stated i actually have no major dramas with this type of thing as we all have to live/love/work and overall the LT have done a reasonable job of getting us to where we are, but i doubt if they can actually take us further, i have seen this is industry many a time when someone refuses to ask for help for whatever reason and then it all turns to custard...remember pride comes before a fall

all most of us want is a decent working website which is what i "verified" for and more transparency with where and what money goes to....

i tried to post this message last night but kept seeing "whoa site down", "this group is archived" and a few other messages and in my humble opinion these issues should be resolved before it looks like the people running the site are all off on holiday...

interesting to note that you didn't actually answer any of my question tho' and once again try and argue on a matter of semantics..!

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 10:45 pm from Newcastle upon Tyne, England
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted March 6th, 2009 - 12:32 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
We just got a good explanation of the stipends, reimbursed travel expenses, and update on positions of people at the collective from one of the tech volunteers on the Amb private group...and I feel a ton better. no totals provided but just an outline of who is getting paid what.

he laid out how funds were being spent to my satisfaction. Unfortunately I can't post it or copy/paste it here because it's on the Amb private, but will try to consolidate the info for anyone who is interested.

Margaret

Posted March 6th, 2009 - 2:32 am from Kinkora, Canada
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 6th, 2009 - 7:56 am from Kinkora, Canada
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 7:21 am from Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 1:35 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thank you Gadget! I appreciate your forthrightness:)

now, let's clear up these rumors: we can, with the leadership team, work together to patch up CS' reputation.

Consistency equals trust: The leadership needs to hold itself accountable to its own stated policies, be disciplined about this, and be prepared to publicly slam anyone who would endanger CS' integrity:

1. If CS is indeed a commercial-free website, then please do not tolerate volunteers seeking an alcohol sponsorship for a party that benefits only members at Base Camp and in Berkley...it looks bad...and feels like a sell out to those of us for whom that matters. Show us that it matters to you too...put out an official policy on how sponsorship will be handled, if at all...and publicize it beyond the amb private groups: put it in the FAQ for all to see.

2. If base camp volunteers are indeed unpaid, then come out and defend that policy. If anyone dares to challenge the integrity of this policy...publicly let em have it...show us you've got some game.

3. If volunteers at base camp or Costa Rica are receiving payment...then defend that decision. Show us the mechanism by which they are receiving money...and put the naysayers *down* in public. Don't tolerate rumors of corruption or incompetence...but show us you are using donated money responsibly.

get it on leaders...let's see what you've got

Otherwise you lose the trust of valued members (which includes all 1 million of us)

Posted March 6th, 2009 - 4:51 am from San Francisco, United States
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted March 6th, 2009 - 8:16 am by from Brisbane, Australia (Permalink)
all journeys start with one step, so thanks gadget for continuing to help find answers to our questions...

Posted March 6th, 2009 - 12:05 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
Gadget thank you so much! You are really so responsive and helpful...I can't tell you how much this type of respectful, prompt and truthful communication is; really it's just wonderful having you here.

And best wishes with the party planning...best wishes for the prettiest of weather, big t-shirt sales, and large groups of happy bay area CS'ers:) Have fun!

Margaret

Posted March 5th, 2009 - 4:52 am from San Francisco, United States
This member profile has been deactivated