Oct 25th, 2016
Important Question About How 38 Degrees Is Funded
By 38 Degrees team
I’ve got an important question for you about how 38 Degrees is funded. We make our best decisions when everyone has a say. So please grab a cup of tea, read the post, and vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ below.
Earlier this year, 30,000 of us did something that sent shockwaves through the gas and electricity industry. We decided we’d had enough of rip-off prices, and of hours listening to bad customer service music. So we came together, negotiated a better deal and changed our gas and electricity companies together.
It was a successful experiment. 30,000 of us stopped adding to the profits of dodgy gas and electricity companies, like EDF and NPower. It sent a powerful message to big business, and it saved us real money on our gas and electricity bills.
On top of that, for every one of us who switched to a different company for a fairer, cheaper deal, 38 Degrees got a small amount of money (around £12.50) from the new company. We ploughed this money back into our campaigning – raising money for things we all care about like protecting the NHS or cracking down on tax dodging.
What if we did more of this? And what if we looked at other industries, not just gas and electricity?
I think mass switching like this could be a brilliantly powerful way of challenging businesses we don’t like. If any one of us, on our own, threatens to take our custom elsewhere, it can feel like a drop in the ocean. But when thousands of us work together, it’s a tactic that big business can’t ignore.
But this raises an important question. Are we happy for 38 Degrees to raise money in this way?
Personally I think it’s win-win-win – 38 Degrees members save money. Bad businesses lose customers. And 38 Degrees raises more money to spend on important campaigns. Plus we’d prioritise finding ways to fiercely guard our independence. Some 38 Degrees members have suggested an independent body (made up of 38 Degrees members) to make sure companies continue to have no say in our campaigns, for example.
But it is a change from our usual way of raising money. It means no longer relying strictly 100% on member donations. And ultimately that’s a decision I think every 38 Degrees member should have a say on.
So, what do you think? Are you happy for 38 Degrees to add money to the campaign pot, by accepting money from companies when we organise campaigns like energy switches?
38 Degrees is all about individuals coming together to create a big impact. We take our name from the angle of a mountain where snowflakes come together to cause an avalanche – because when we work together, we get things done.
And that’s exactly how we’re funded: people chipping in a fiver or a tenner to make the UK a better place. It’s a model we can be fiercely proud of – it means we don’t take money from big business or politicians. It keeps us independent.
The money 38 Degrees would get from mass switches could be seen as diluting that. It’s money that comes from a business. Even if it is a company we’ve chosen together because they have better ethics, customer service or fairer pricing – making money like this could be seen as a threat to our independence.
I think we can put safeguards in place to make sure the benefits outweigh the risks. We will rule out companies who dodge tax or give shoddy customer service. We will refuse any money with strings attached. It would still be us – 38 Degrees members – calling the shots and voting on what 38 Degrees does and what campaigns we run.
But it’s not just about what I think! This is an important decision for 38 Degrees, and that means everyone gets a vote.