Responsibility is shared and flexible
Volunteers are the connectors between ‘the ones who share’ and the coordinators from the municipality or other organisations. Volunteers can take on special responsibilities, such as coordinating and sustaining communities, but it is important that no one is left alone with all the responsibility and the tasks – it should be possible to share it among a group.
Communities are flexible
How many people you want to share with depends on what you are sharing. There are things, which are fine, even beneficial to share with many. And then there are other things that you maybe only want to share with a limited circle. The platform needs to support communities, of different sizes and needs to be open to change shape depending on the given situation.
The informal and non-binding is important
In most communities we have been talking to, rules are not necessary – you get them to work without rules. There might be some informal or unwritten rules but for the most part it comes down to common sense. It was also underlined that group membership should be non-binding: It should be possible for people to come and go as they wish and not about memberships as in clubs or the like.
An extension to the existing communities
The Give&Take platform should function in relation to existing communities: “We have a community where we also share and help each other.” The Give&Take platform should not replace what already works well in the existing community, but instead it should be an extension to what is already there.
It is not about money or ratings
The Give&Take project started with ideas about sharing economy that are focused on larger than one-to-one exchanges and where the exchange does not involve money. We have learned that in such an exchange it is important to be able to say ‘thank you’ but that it should not involve ratings or other forms of evaluation systems.
A helping hand
On the one hand, communities are supposed to be self-sustainable for the majority of the time. On the other hand, a unique feature of the Give&Take platform is the possibility to connect with coordinators (e.g., the municipality). The connections to trusted organisations might also support a sense of security on the platform.
Supporting local institutions
Social institutions such as local neighbourhood centres are important points of contact and the staff do a great job in their local regions. However, there is often too much to do and too few resources and budget. Give&Take can help alleviate some of this pressure by mobilising more people in the local community to support one another, freeing up the social workers to focus on providing more personal care.
Communities can learn from each other
There is a multitude of well functioning communities in our focus areas Frederiksberg, Vienna and Schwechat. But both, citizens and municipality workers, have pointed to the possibility for better insights into other communities by creating increased transparency across them. This could lead to exchanges across communities, e.g., municipality coordinators could exchange experiences with others in the same situation.