New Workshop Fees to Fund Expanded Learning Opportunities

The Colorado Lean Network is instituting a small registration fee for workshops beginning May 2020. To be transparent, we’ve put together an FAQ to help you understand exactly what’s happening and why the decision was made.

Check out these FAQs to learn more:

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s changing with fees?

We are adding a small fee to attend workshops beginning May 2020 and will include a registration fee (TBD) for the 2020 Summit (like we did in 2019). We will continue to offer quarterly Kaizen events and other programming at no cost to members so there is a way for members to learn, engage, and network without investing financially.

How much are the new fees?

Workshop fees will be $10 per hour; so a 2-hour workshop will have a $20 fee per person, while a 4-hour workshop will have a $40 fee per person. We decided to scale the fee structure for two reasons. First, longer workshops allow participants to go deeper into a subject which should provide a greater level of value. Second, the longer the workshop, the higher the costs of refreshments. Also, keep in mind that the event ticketing platform takes a percentage of the fee you pay. We are not passing that cost on to you, but absorbing it into the CLN operating budget.

Have you benchmarked other Lean organizations? 

Yes. We looked at half a dozen regional Lean organizations across the country to understand their membership models, their programming and benefits, and their revenue models. Workshops hosted by these other regional organizations ranged from $200 – $500 per person per workshop. Most organizations also charged an annual membership fee in addition to the workshop fee (either individual memberships or organizational memberships). As a Board of Directors, we chose not to adopt the market rate for our workshops in 2020. It’s important to us that we offer free and low-cost events that help us achieve our mission: to inspire, develop, and support improvement practitioners to better serve Colorado organizations and communities by connecting existing and aspiring practitioners to the right mentors, models, and resources.

How was the Colorado Lean Network funded before now?

Prior to 2019, the Colorado Lean Network didn’t even have a bank account. The Summit was run out of the host’s bank account, with sponsors and the hosts covering the exact costs of the Summit. Other operating expenses like website hosting, the networking picnic, supplies, and refreshments at some CLN events were funded by personal donations from the Board of Directors. Our previous Board of Directors were very generous with their time – and with their money. But that’s not a sustainable way to operate the Network.

How did we fund workshops in the past?

Refreshments, meeting space and supplies for previous workshops were paid for by the workshop facilitator. While we appreciate that those early facilitators were willing to invest in our members, it’s not a reasonable model for recruiting additional facilitators. Our workshop facilitators are already donating their time, energy, and expertise at no fee. Expecting them to also fund workshop expenses is not viable.

Why are we instituting fees now?

The growth of the Colorado Lean Network, and the formalization of the organization as a 501(c)3 has resulted in an increase in basic operating expenses. There are hundreds of dollars in filing fees with the Secretary of State and the Internal Revenue Service. To manage our growing email list and comply with FCC requirements, we have to maintain a physical mailing address, which we pay an annual fee for – in addition to fees to the email service provider. We’re expanding our workshops, and when we can’t find hosts to donate free space then we have to pay for low-fee space at libraries or other community locations. We provide refreshments at many events to improve the member experience. Community outreach and training events often need supplies like flip charts and post-it notes.

While we continue to solicit both monetary and in-kind donations, we are not receiving enough donations to fund all of these expanded costs.

Plus – we hope to grow and expand our program offerings in the future to bring in speakers from outside of Colorado as well. We can’t expand to that level until we have the funding to do so.

How did attendance and no-shows factor into the decision?

More than 30% of our event registrants either cancel in the last 48 hours or no-show. When a workshop facilitator agrees to donate their time, energy, and expertise to facilitate a workshop and then we have more than 25% cancel the last day or no-show, it hurts the CLN reputation. It also reduces the quality of experience for workshop participants, and prevents those who are on the waitlist from participating. Facilitators prepare for their events based on registration numbers. When they have to change things up last-minute based on a big change in attendance, the activities they planned don’t always work as well.

Do any Board of Directors benefit from the fees?

No. All Board of Directors are in 100% volunteer positions. They generously give their time to serve the Colorado Lean Community. All funds raised through workshop fees and sponsorships are invested directly into the CLN.

Will these fees remain constant over time?

We can’t answer the question of what the membership or revenue models may look like in 2, 5, or 10 years from now. We are committed to running the CLN efficiently and cost-effectively. However, as the organization grows, there may be speakers or resources that we want to give you access to that can only be done through additional revenue generation. We are researching the differences between membership-based revenue models and event fee-based revenue models. However, we committed that for 2020, the only fees that we are putting into place are the workshop and Summit registration fees.

How can I help?

There are two primary things that the CLN needs to provide value to our members.

The first is money, which is what we’ve been talking about. If you would like to make a personal donation or if your organization would like to sponsor the Colorado Lean Network, you can do that on our website <LINK> or by reaching out to us via email to discuss options:

The second is hosts. The most challenging part of putting events together for our members is finding hosts who are willing to donate space and/or coordinate events like Gemba Walks, Kaizen Events, Workshops, and the Summit. If your organization can help with this, please submit a Lend a Hand Form. <LINK> 

Remember that even if you’re new to Lean, you can still host an event and we can partner you with experienced speakers that you can add to the agenda. You don’t have to fill the entire time all on your own. Also, if your organization hosts a workshop, you get 10% of the seats reserved for your team members- at no fee. So a 30-person capacity workshop would mean that you could send 3 people from your organization to the workshop without paying any registration fees.

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