How to Start a “Stuff” Sharing Group
A neighborhood stuff sharing group is primarily a system of borrowing and lending, in which participants allow others to use their stuff but actual ownership of the items doesn’t change hands. To get started, you’ll need to know what everyone has and needs. Use a form similar to the one below to find out what each participant is willing to lend, willing to let others use, and looking to borrow. Once these forms are filled out, you could either copy them all and give a set to each sharer or compile them into a master list organized by category. Because the list will change as people and items come and go, it may be good to post an updateable list online or have someone print out the list and distribute it every few months.
If you start a neighborhood stuff sharing group, it’s a good idea to have a written member agreement, to make sure that everyone understands how the arrangement works. The agreement below also clarifies what will happen if property is damaged or a member is injured. Because group members will probably come and go, having a written agreement encourages consistency and continuity in how your group operates.
Form: Stuff to Lend and Borrow
Please list all items you are willing to lend, as well as items you would be interested in obtaining by sharing or borrowing them from others. If an item cannot be moved, but you are willing to let people use it in your house or yard, please list this in the second column. For items that you would be willing to lend, please note any limitations. For example, if you will lend your vacuum cleaner only for an hour at a time, or if you will lend your ceramics wheel only to experienced users, please note this.
|Categories of goods||Items to Lend||Immobile Items Others May Use||Items I’d Like to Borrow or Buy With Others|
|Tools||Allen wrenches, ladder||Electric screw driver, drill|
|Cleaning||Vacuum cleaner||Carpet cleaning machine|
|Cooking||High power blender, espresso maker, ice cream maker, popcorn machine, bread maker, yogurt maker, food dehydrater, juicer, a large cooler, BBQ (on wheels)||Beer-making supplies, coffee roaster, deep fryer, slow cooker|
|Yard||Leaf blower, snow shovel, rake, hoe, shovels, trowels, wheelbarrow||Lawn mower|
|Sports/Fitness/Outdoor||Camping gear, small inflatable raft||Elliptical machine (in my garage; you could arrange to get a key from me). Basketball hoop (in my driveway; let me know if you’d like to use it and I’ll park my car on the street)||Surfboard, Fishing gear, Trampoline|
|Fun/Entertainment||Lots of DVDs||Pool table (also in my garage)||Karaoke machine|
|Clothing/Accessories||Ski clothes, Elvis costume, gorilla costume||Washer and dryer (also in my garage)||Wetsuit|
|Hobbies/Arts/Crafts||Sewing machine||Ceramics wheel and kiln (also in my garage)|
|Travel||Giant rolling suitcase, travel guides for most of South America|
|Furniture||Inflatable mattress, folding chairs, 6-foot folding table, card table, lawn furniture|
|Electronics||Record player, digital video camera||Copier|
|Health||Humidifier, massage chair, massage table||Water purifier|
|Other||Postage scale, typewriter, slide projector, realistic rubber cockroach (great for gags)||Emergency preparedness kit, hot tub, binoculars, generator|
Sample “Stuff” Sharing Group Member Agreement
This agreement is between all members of the East Lilburn Stuff Share Group (“the Group”). By signing this Agreement, each member agrees to the terms of this Agreement, as follows:
- PURPOSE: We have formed this Group to help neighborhood residents save money, meet their household needs, and consume less by providing an easy way for people to share household goods, otherwise known as “stuff.”
- DEFINITION OF “STUFF:” “Stuff” includes many kinds of useful items, including appliances, clothes, books, tools, electronics, toys, and so on.
- SHARED PROPERTY: The shared stuff is described in the attached Stuff Master List and on the Group’s password-protected website. Upon joining the Group, each member will fill out the “Personal Stuff List,” where the member will list all items that member is willing to share, any limitations related to borrowing or using item, and items that member is interested in borrowing or acquiring with others.
- OWNERSHIP: All stuff is and will remain the separate property of its owner. No items will be owned collectively by the Group, unless it is specifically given to the Group or acquired by the Group for the purpose of collective ownership.
- MEMBER QUALIFICATIONS: Membership is open to anyone who is at least 13 years old and lives within the section ofEast Lilburnbordered on the north byPrecita Avenue, on the south byWard Road, on the east byClemonsville Roadand on the west byAbby Road. This encompasses approximately 80 households. At our annual meeting, we may consider whether to expand.
- STRUCTURE: We are an unincorporated association. We do not intend to enter into a partnership or form an incorporated entity.
- DECISIONS: We will hold an annual meeting and block party in the summer. All members will be invited to the meeting, to be held during the hour prior to the start of the block party. At each annual meeting, members present will elect a Stuff Share Board of five members. Major decisions regarding the structure and size of the Group will be thoroughly discussed and decided by a majority vote of the membership. Decisions about minor and day-to-day issues, such as how to organize stuff, will be made by the Board.
- STUFF SHARE BOARD MEMBER RESPONSIBILITIES: Members of the Stuff Share Board will be responsible for recruiting new members, processing Member Agreements and Personal Stuff Lists, and updating the Stuff Master List and website at least once every three months. Board members will also be responsible for planning the annual party.
- MEMBER RESPONSIBILITIES: Members are responsible for updating their Personal Stuff Lists as necessary and treating borrowed stuff with care.
- PROCEDURES: To borrow an item, the borrowing member should find the item on the Stuff List and contact the member that is offering the item. The borrowing member should describe how the item will be used. The offering member may agree to or decline the loan. The borrowing and offering members may decide together the length of the loan and any other terms of the loan, including appropriate and inappropriate uses of the item.
- COSTS: There is no cost to join the Group, although members may be asked to make a small contribution to pay for the party. Members do not enter into this agreement with the intent to profit. As a general rule, members will not charge for the use of items they lend. However, if use of an item will entail an expense for the owner (such as gasoline for the leafblower), the borrower and lender may agree on a way to compensate the lender.
- DAMAGED OR LOST ITEMS: In the event than an item is lost or damaged while in possession by a borrower, the borrower and lender will decide together on an appropriate remedy or compensation. As a general rule, borrowers should be expected to compensate lenders for the value of the item lost or damaged, not necessarily the replacement value.
- INDEMNIFICATION AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY: All borrowing members, as consideration for borrowing an item from an offering member, agree not to make a claim against or sue an offering member for injury, loss, or damage that results from borrowing and/or using the item, including injury, loss, or damage arising from the negligence of the offering member. Borrowing members agree to indemnify, hold harmless, and defend offering members from all claims, liability, or demands that the borrowing member or any third party may have or in the future make against the offering member for injury, loss, or damage arising from the borrowing member’s use of the offering member’s property.
- DISPUTE RESOLUTION: If a conflict or dispute arises between members and they are unable to resolve it through discussion, members agree to use mediation to attempt to resolve the dispute. All mediation services will be paid for by the members involved in the dispute.
- PROCEDURE FOR WITHDRAWING FROM THE GROUP OR EXPELLING MEMBERS: Anyone can withdraw from the Group at any time by providing written or email notice to the Board. Within a reasonable amount of time, Board members will remove that member’s name from the member list and will remove that member’s items from the Stuff Master List. Members may be involuntarily removed from the group by a 3/4 vote of membership.
- DISSOLVING THE GROUP: The Group will remain in operation as long as there are members interested in keeping it going. We may decide to dissolve the Group by a unanimous vote of active members or by a unanimous minus one vote. If, at the time of dissolution, the Group owns items collectively, we will decide how to distribute those items. We may decide to sell these items and split the proceeds, or simply give those items to individual members, if at least 2/3 of the Group agrees.
This post has is adapted from: The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community, by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow (Nolo 2009)