4. Starting a LETS group

Experience has shown that a LETS scheme is best started by organising a meeting intended to attract the people most likely to become involved. It is useful to obtain one or two speakers from LETS associations which have already become established and there are some useful LETS trading games which can be played to break the ice. Such a meeting is a good place to form a core group involving those who are going to be active in organising the scheme. If this meeting generates sufficient interest, this will lead to further meetings to coordinate the work involved in setting up. It is useful to draw up a few simple pieces of paper:

  1. A members agreement 
  2. A cheque form
  3. A form which can be used to collect information which will go into a directory containing information about goods and services offered and wanted
  4. A leaflet for general publicity
  5. A description of how the LETS system operates
At these meetings decisions can be made about who will carry out the key responsibilities, such as drawing up the accounts, liaison with the media, organising social events etc. Decisions will also be needed about the cost of membership and the nominal value and name of the currency unit. These meetings are needed but don't have too many of them. Groups which start trading at the earliest opportunity are more likely to grow quickly. Useful assets include a permanent address to which the cheques can be sent and collected by whoever is doing the accounts; having a local cafe, church or community centre is useful for this as it is likely to act as a focus for the community served by the LETS scheme.

Once the group is established, trading and regularly publishing its accounts and directories, further attention is likely to be given to encouraging new members to join. Obviously the more members, the greater the variety of goods and services on offer and the higher the volume of trading. To start with much voluntary work will be needed by those willing to form the core group. When the trading volume is sufficient, the service charges that can reasonably be levied on accounts can be expected to cover the efforts involved in administrating and developing the system.

Version #001 20-12-94

Written by Richard Kay  rich@driveout.demon.co.uk