All About Briarpatch Membership

Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology, is, in its effect and laws, as beautiful as roses.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Fifth & Sixth Laws of Money

These laws are part of The Seven Laws of Money, a set of basic principles that Briarpatch members tend to operate under. Go here if you want to learn more about The Seven Laws

Law 5. You can never really give money away.
(Seven Laws of Money, p. 113.)

Law 6. You can never really receive money as a gift.
(Seven Laws of Money, p. 147.)

Whether you give or receive, there are expectations about relationships, information flow, priorities, hoped-for outcomes, and so forth.

Any gift is a two-way street. (It’s only one-way in the short term.)

Most people agree that a “gift” is NOT a loan.

Many also understand that a “gift” CAN BE an investment?

The Fifth and Sixth laws are two sides of the same coin. They “mutually arise.” You need to think about them together to best understand how they work.

All money is a matter of belief.

—Adam Smith

Gifts as Alliances

The best “gifts” are looked at as alliances.

The giver (donor, contributor, payer) and the receiver have values and goals in common. They enter into an agreement, formal or informal. Each has expectations and responsibilities. Implied or explicit, the giver will be there to provide emotional and technical support if asked by the receiver.

The receiver promises, explicit or implied,

  • to meet one or more milestones
  • to create one or more deliverables
  • to keep the giver informed as the project proceeds

Implied or explicit, they also agree to review the project when it’s over or at important milestones along the way.

Do you Give to an Idea or a Person?

You don’t give money to an idea.

You give it to a person;

          someone you believe can make the idea happen.

Gifts, Tithes, Dues in the Briarpatch

From the beginning, the Briarpatch has paid a coordinator to help lubricate communications, set up consulting sessions for member businesses, and facilitate other community activities and events.

This payment came mostly from donations or dues.

In the spirit of “open books,” a financial statement of sources and uses of funds is shared, at first through the Briarpatch Review and later through a printed newsletter, membership directory, or periodic paper letter.

You can see the very first such financial statement here.

You can see the most recent cash flow statement below:

Briarpatch Cash Flow Statement

For Year 2023
Account Amount
Previous Balance

140.57 USD


40.00 USD


400.00 USD

Total Inflows

440.00 USD

Coordinator’s Salary

0.00 USD

Utilities (including phone)

120.00 USD

Email and Web Meetings

60.00 USD


246.00 USD

Total Outflows

426.00 USD

Ending Balance

154.57 USD

Click on one of these links to pay your dues online (uses PayPal).

Alternatively, you may donate whatever amount you like by check payable to Claude Whitmyer.

You may send the check by mail to:

Claude Whitmyer
601 Van Ness Avenue, Suite E, Box 433
San Francisco, CA 94102

The Coordinator's Promise to the Network

Whoever the network coordinator has been, they have agreed to a certain level of responsibility. This responsibility includes

  • Being available and accountable to members
  • Using a randomly selected group of members to make all “big” decisions
  • Sharing periodic reports of sources and uses of funds in a way that is publically accessible
  • Generally, to do their best on behalf of the community.


Yep! I’m on board with that! Any questions?

You can always reach me using the contact page on this website.

Br’er Claude
Briarpatch Coordinator

CW in Sonoma Office

Support Your Local Coordinator

It’s easy to make a donation or dues payment. You can even do it right now, today. Whatever amount you choose will cover 6 months. The range has been from $25 (that’s what they could afford) to $250 (they were really generous and/or happy with our advice or other experience). (Note: That would be from $80 to $800 in today’s dollars when adjusted for inflation.)


Dues are voluntary and you decide the amount.

Click on one of these links to pay your dues online (uses PayPal).

Alternatively, you may donate whatever amount you like by check payable to Claude Whitmyer.

You may send the check by mail to:

Claude Whitmyer
601 Van Ness Avenue, Suite E, Box 433
San Francisco, CA 94102

Incentives to Pay Dues

Paying dues can make you feel good because you’ve made a worthwhile contribution.

Dues-paying member incentives:

(Learn more about Briarpatch consulting sessions and how to prepare for them.)

P.S. Remember, Briarpatch is just a group of friends, not a company or a non-profit.

The History of Dues/Coordinator's Salary

Since the primary purpose for dues is to pay the coordinator a salary, for most of the Network’s history, donations were made directly to the coordinator, avoiding the time and money overhead of a group or club legal form.

Open books (sharing of financial reports – see report above) allow members to always know where their money is going.

The fact that your donation is not tax-deductible is balanced by the fact that the coordinator must pay taxes on any portion not deducted as a legitimate business expense in any given year. This incentivizes the coordinator to spend your dollars on legitimate business expenses. If you pick the right coordinator, such expenditures will benefit the community. If you pick the wrong coordinator, you can stop donating and/or replace the coordinator.

When cash flow from member dues is “flush” we may also use small amounts to create parties or educational events. Occasionally, we might also donate small amounts as “grants” to a Briarpatch project. For example, the Briarpatch paid postage and phone expenses to launch the Common Good School and it made a small contribution to the start-up funds for the Apprentice Alliance.