One of the best ways to understand the direction of an organisation like Bristol Pound is to compare it with other organisations elsewhere that have similar goals. Local community projects, which take place all over the world, can be used as sources of inspiration. One of these which I’ve discovered is SamenDoen – an institution based in Holland which promotes the support of local stores.
SamenDoen operates using a points system. Each time you make purchases at a local store, you save up points. Each point is worth €0.01 and they can be used to get discounts at affiliated retailers; you save and redeem these points by using a SamenDoen card.
It works in a very similar way to Tesco club cards or Nectar points, in terms of collecting points and rewarding loyal customers. You hand over the pass with every purchase so that the points are automatically credited to your points account. The amount of points you save usually depends on the purchase amount, but this varies depending on the retailer. This incentivises spending money in stores within your local area, with the knock-on effect of improving the local economy.
According to SamenDoen, you save an average of 5% of the amount you spend at the affiliated retailers. For example, when you spend €10, you get 50 points (€0.5), of which 40% (20 points) by default will go to your chosen savings goal.
A savings goal is an association, club, or other social, local goal for which you automatically save. You can choose what your savings goal is. But, if you don’t make a choice, you will automatically save for the ‘general savings goal’ in your region. For example, if a sports team needs a new kit or equipment, the savings goal will help the organisation get a discount on those items.
Ways to obtain SamenDoen points
What is even more interesting about the SamonDoen points system, is the range of ways that points can be saved. For example, if people want to save extra points, they can do this by participating in voluntary activities such as a litter campaign or becoming a member of a residents’ committee in their local area. This way, not only are you saving a lot of points, you are actively working to improve your area. This is a great way of encouraging local participation in community work.
Another way in which the points can be used is to simply reward members who volunteer for a club. Again, people can directly benefit from working in the local community.
SamenDoen for organisations
On top of this, points can be saved as part of an institution. Members of a particular association can save for the club; every time people make purchases from affiliated retailers, they save points for the association and themselves. Members can choose how much of the points they save go towards the institution. The association can then use these saved points to get discounts for what they need; whether it be new equipment or even for a community centre to be built.
Overall, SamenDoen seems to be an interesting project with a lot of different ways of tackling local economic issues. However, they still have the problem of the scheme being great for the community but not necessarily for the individual. Even though it has incentives, like Bristol Pound, it relies a lot on the goodwill of the people. Without incentives for individuals, Bristol Pound has found it difficult to break into the mainstream, and I fear that the same difficulty might be faced by SamenDoen. Regardless, I’m excited to see how this movement develops in the future.