Guidelines: Benefits and Accountability for Work Contributions

Roles and Responsibilities

For many people, the approach to roles and responsibilities seems obvious and intuitive. It might not be until you meet others with a different cultural background or experiences that you realize there isn’t one right way for all people. It’s important to make sure your group members don’t have wrong assumptions of others’ general attitude toward roles and responsibilities. The following statements can be agreed to at the same time without feeling that the statements contradict each other. These statements are from the profile questions, and are mostly helpful to determine whether someone has extreme views. Getting clear on the edge cases and exceptions is the challenge for a founders team.

  • Transactional relationships are more fair; to a reasonable extent there should be accountability through written agreements
  • In a reciprocal relationship you give about as much as you get, but it happens without keeping track
  • In a small family-like group, the saying applies, “to each according to their need, from each according to their abilities”
  • Clear responsibilities are important to minimize conflict
  • Flexible responsibilities are often best, which aren’t assigned or micromanaged

Member Work Benefits

Describe what benefits are available to those who provide the required work, asset contribution, monthly financial contribution, and/or financial investment.

  • Stipend or wage
  • Share in profits
  • Educational certification
  • Credit toward property shares
  • Lodging during negotiated timeframe
  • Produce or prepared meals
  • Access to shared resources

Contribution Accountability

  • Everyone is required to attend agreed-on decision making meetings
  • Everyone attends joint work sessions to ensure equitable work contribution
  • Group schedules flexibly timed work contributions to ensure equitable work contribution
  • Group uses recording system and regular reviews to ensure equitable work contribution
  • Group members all have oversight of each other and group agrees on consequences for breaking rules
  • Group allows spontaneity, goes with the flow, with many opportunities to renegotiate rules
  • Group accepts only members with high maturity level with expectation of self-governance
  • Undecided (i.e., we currently have no accountability)
  • Have a community cleaning pre-pay. Anytime someone forgets to clean up after themselves, whoever does it gets paid at an agreed-on pay rate out of that member’s prepay.
  • Anytime someone breaks or damages group-owned resources, they may pay some percentage of it based on possible negligence, but the remainder of replacement cost can be covered by the community funds.

Contribution Types

  • We negotiate contributions based on various inputs: financial contribution, property contribution (e.g., vehicle, real estate), and/or work
  • Everyone’s financial contribution should be proportional to what they receive of group benefits
  • Everyone’s work hour contribution should be proportional to what they receive of group benefits
  • Work hours should be negotiable based on physical exertion (e.g., digging), danger (e.g., roofing), general dislike (e.g., cleaning toilets), or acquired skill/credentials (e.g., welding)
  • Sharing income and resources should be mostly need-based
  • Everyone’s financial contribution should be the same
  • Everyone’s work hour contribution should be the same

___ hours weekly labor contribution or negotiable equivalent of payment to cover others’ labor cost.

___ is the per-person or per-family average expected contribution in work hours

Skills and Knowledge Needed

This list may help you to divide up responsibilities among your leadership team in the short term. In the long term, this list can help you determine what skill sets you still need to upgrade in your group or find in new members.

Daily chores:

  • Cooking for groups
  • Childcare
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Carpentry & repair
  • Farm animal care
  • Grant-writing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Group facilitation
  • Organizing & labeling


  • Sociocracy or holocracy
  • Mediation or dispute resolution
  • Consensus facilitation

Business management:

  • Timebanking
  • Legal practice
  • Grant writing
  • Bookkeeping/accounting
  • Short term rentals & hospitality
  • Long term rentals & maintenance
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion training

Site construction and management:

  • Ecological science
  • Horticulture or permaculture
  • Architecture
  • Natural building
  • Carpentry & construction
  • Welding
  • Waterworks & sanitation
  • Security & weapons
  • City planning, zoning, & compliance

Vocational skills for ICs:

  • Humanitarian or social work
  • Event planning & management
  • Event hosting
  • Animal training or care
  • Outdoor survival skills
  • Sports or physical recreation
  • Travel guide
  • Ordained minister or religious scholar
  • Photography or videography
  • Certification for teaching children
  • Experience teaching adults

Health and nutrition:

  • First responder (first aid) or EMT
  • Medicine – western
  • Medicine – alternative
  • Massage or other bodywork
  • Nutrition
  • Food handling certification trainer


  • Filmmaking
  • Musical performance
  • Performative dance
  • Social dance
  • Standup comedy
  • Theater
  • Visual art


  • Writing
  • Website design
  • Database management
  • Marketing
  • Public speaking
  • Political campaigning
  • Group therapy or group processing
  • Activism & organizing

Academic Subjects:

  • Computer science
  • Electric engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Astronomy
  • Anthropology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Finance & economics
  • Political science & history
  • Biological sciences

Language Required

This may be relevant if you are an expat group or bilingual group. If you have a bilingual community or frequently have guests who are not as familiar with the more used language, make sure your agreements about benefits and accountability for work contributions are translated.

Healthcare Benefits

Health insurance or membership with an independent physician association (IPA) is a benefit that the group may get a group discount for, possibly qualifying as a small business. An IPA may be a good cultural fit. For example, The Wellness Company is focused on prevention more than symptom management, medical freedom, respect for natural treatments, and the right to affordable health care.

Recommended Resources

Participation and Work in Community: An online course from The Foundation for Intentional Community (a separate organization from ICmatch)