Gather is community supported software.
It is currently in beta and free to use. The beta period will end around July of 2019.
In order to sustain the project, once the beta period is over we will be asking communities to contribute on the following sliding scale:
|For communities on a tight budget||For communities with healthy finances||For communities wishing to invest in the Gather vision|
Children and inactive members don’t count toward the price.
A 90-day trial period will be allowed so that communities can fully explore the system before subscribing. This period can be extended upon request to accommodate community budget schedules.
Software is expensive to build and many software companies rely on funding from private investors to get off the ground.
The Gather team has never taken funding from venture capitalists and has no plans to. Instead, initial development of Gather was supported by volunteer work and the Touchstone Cohousing workshare system.
In order to take Gather to the next level and serve a wider range of community needs, we need more time to work on the project, and this means we need funding. Yet we don’t want to be beholden to the demands of private investors, only the members of the communities we serve. This is why we are asking for community support.
Relying on volunteer efforts poses risks to long-term sustainability in two areas: development and support.
New feature development and bug fixing will always be needed for any software project of a sufficient size. Volunteer developers come and go and can’t be relied upon for steady work on community needs.
Reliable system support requires having staff on call who are familiar with the system. Again, relying solely on volunteer efforts here is risky.
Gather used to be an official project of Sassafras Tech Collective. However, when it became clear that the all the development work was being done by one member of the collective (Tom Smyth, the project founder), it was agreed that the project should live under its own LLC until it has sufficient funds to enter a support contract with Sassafras, thus increasing its institutional support. This remains the intention.
Hosting costs represent the primary material cost of the system. Funds may also eventually support advertising and travel costs for marketing purposes.
Supporting staff time represents the lion’s share of the system’s cost. Staff time is spent on the following tasks:
The more funds that can be raised to defray these costs, the faster development can proceed, and the more community needs can be met.
As Gather matures, we are looking forward to transforming it into a platform cooperative. In this model, the Gather system would be owned by a cooperative entity comprised of both the workers who build the system and the community members who use it.
Forming Gather as platform cooperative would ensure its continued accountability to those it serves, rather than investors or shareholders, as the system grows.