How is BCI funded?
It is helpful to understand our structure and role in order to understand our funding. The ‘BCI’ is a relatively small secretariat (comprised of about 45 staff members). The Secretariat’s primary role is to act as ‘guardian’ of the Standard and to ensure its proper implementation, the credibility of the field data collected, the quality of the training conducted around the world, and provide various other ‘enabling’ functions. A much larger consortium of external partners actually implements the Better Cotton Standard with hundreds of thousands of farmers in the countries we operate in today (and will expand to tomorrow).
The BCI secretariat function is funded primarily via membership fees (which currently cover approximately 80% of costs), grants from public funding sources (roughly 10% of current costs), and the remaining 10% from service fees charged for various aspects of our work. The much greater cost of field implementation projects around the globe is funded by a combination of generous grants from progressive brands and retailers, and match funding provided by various international donor organisations. The names of our brand and retail partners, as well as our public funding organisations are prominently displayed throughout our website.
Our intention for the future is to become less dependent on ‘donor’ grants for both the BCI secretariat costs as well our field implementation costs. This will be achieved through two mechanisms: increased membership will generate the revenue necessary to sustain the secretariat, and the introduction of a ‘volume based fee’ (VBF) will fund our field projects. The VBF mechanism calls for Retailers and Brands to pay a fee based on the amount of Better Cotton they purchase (with built-in incentives to purchase more). These funds will go into a general ‘field implementation project pot’ which will also (hopefully) attract a degree of matching investments from donor organisations. It is anticipated that the transition to the new financial model will occur during the period 2016-17.