Inclusive: LETS systems need to be diverse to survive because everyone needs everyone else; attracting a mixture of folk from all ages, abilities and backgrounds is the way to help the system thrive and flourish.
Not for Profit: Although a Local Exchange and Trading System aims to be sustainable locally without cash, funds are required to meet essential cash overheads such as paper, ink and postage stamps. This is easily covered by your lifetime membership fee.
Co-operation: NML Core Group members have agreed to work on a co-operative basis and to value each other’s time equally at 10L per hour. Members are encouraged to consider this as an average rate when pricing their own time.
Mutuality: When a transaction is to take place the two people involved negotiate the value of the deal. It may be all in LETS or partially in cash. Cash is often requested to cover the cost of materials or for petrol etc. Only the LETS tokens exchanged are recorded by the system. Reciprocity is encouraged through the accountability of members to each other and the need to re-exchange any credits earned with others who may be in commitment.
Simplicity: Trading is done with trading slips or LETS cheques. All LETS accounts start with a zero balance. As a person gives or receives, their balance becomes either negative (committed) or positive (in credit). It makes no difference whether you have a positive or negative balance; turnover is the main issue. The most successful members are those with a high turnover because that shows that they can both earn and spend within the local community.
Consent: Only the member accepting the goods or services authorises LETS to be transferred from his/her account to the supplying member. They do so with a LETS cheque or token – a simple record of the value of the transaction. This cheque is then sent to the NML Administrator by post or more usually via a local LETS box located near your community noticeboard.
Openness: Openness creates trust in the system. Members can share their offers and wants online and in the Annual Directory. As well as each other’s contact information, members’ overall balances and turnover are published. This allows all of the members to learn how to help each other. Members are encouraged to trade to keep their accounts near balance and within the agreed exchange limits.
Integrity: The credits and debits only exist as numbers in accounts, moving from account to account. Providing each debit is recorded along with its corresponding credit a full exchange has taken place. This is easy to check by simply adding up the total balances of all members. Members should be encouraged to re-balance their accounts if they wish to leave the system.
No interest: Interest is never charged or paid. There is no incentive for folk to hoard their credits and no penalty for being in commitment. Instead folk are encouraged to exchange their skills and services. In this way we create a community-led, interest-free bank of local resources, skills and services. The tokens recycle around the members getting jobs done and making a difference to folks’ lives.
No Shame: Being “in debit” is not judged as a bad thing. In fact a debit balance is a reflection of healthy trading and that member’s willingness to commit to give work to others. Accounts fluctuate happily between debit and credit as people learn to share. A credit represents energy and time put into the local community; a debit is a commitment to make some time or goods available at some future date.
Trust: Members can buy something with their first trade. If members all waited to earn before they spend, nobody would get started! Members will need to see that the administration is accurate, reliable and responsible if they are to develop trust in the system. They also need to be reassured that those in credit spend them and help those in debit to earn them back.