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Officers' Quarters: Directing your cash flow

Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote a column about guild bank gold and the proper use of it. The game has changed quite a bit since then. Most guilds now have a steady income from the Cash Flow perk. With the consolidation of loot tables for both raid sizes, even smaller raiding guilds can loot and sell some pretty impressive BoEs. Guilds are no longer dependent on the generosity of their own members to stay in the black.

In this new "business model," two officers are having a debate about how to use this income to the guild's best advantage. This week's email spells out their arguments:
Hey Scott,
I recently got into an argument with my friend, and we are both officers of the same guild.

We were discussing how the guild bank is to function. Specifically, I wanted to use the guild money which we got from BoE epics to make flasks for the raid at a much lower cost than AH. He didn't approve of the idea that [the] guild bank is losing money for something that should be mandatory for the raid.

My points for this are:
  • guild epic BoEs are earned collectively as a group, so the gold we get are technically "shared" towards the whole raid
  • guild bank money wont be used for anything else
He responds by saying that:
  • guild bank money should only be used for emergencies
  • a considerable amount of gbank money would make our guild look less "scratchy" (ie having 0 gold will make us look bad)
  • we should not be giving free gold to members because we are already doing so much (ie leading raids, recruiting)
  • he stresses that its not "necessary" to help them out, as they should be self-sufficient in preparing for raids anyways
So then the argument escalated to extremes, and I went on to saying that it doesn't matter if we spent all the guild bank giving away flasks and repairs (to now I still stand by my point), because it will help us collectively as a group to improve. Then he said what if he withdrew all the guild money and put himself in full epic BoE gear, in which it will help us collectively as well (as a raid).

I want to know what you think. Is sharing BoE epic gold with guildies a bad thing? Is the amount of gold in the guild bank really that important? What is the guild bank really used for if not for flasks? Am I missing an idea behind all this?

Sincerely and thanks,

Concerned

Hi, Concerned. When I first read your email, I was tempted to say, "You're right and he's wrong, end of story." Then I thought about it a bit more and realized that maybe the answer isn't quite so obvious. Let's examine the two opposing scenarios and weigh the benefits and drawbacks.

Officers only

What if the officers used the gold for their own purposes? They work hard to support the guild and certainly contribute more overall to the guild's success than the average member. Don't the officers deserve some benefits?

They do. Occasionally rewarding your officers can help them feel appreciated and prevent burnout. A key part of leading a guild is helping your officers to feel like their time spent supporting the guild isn't wasted.

What if you took all the guild money and BoEs and gave it all to the officers to help them gear up? Certainly the guild would benefit from this when you raid, provided your officers have the skill and the attendance to make solid contributions to your raid nights.

However, I can't deny that there would be some resentment here. After all, as Concerned points out, the money and the BoEs that the bank possesses were earned by the entire guild, not just the officers. I predict some hard feelings if you use the bank purely for the officers' benefit.

On the other hand, your officers would certainly be happy about it. One of the toughest parts of keeping a guild going is to retain officers and replace officers who leave. With this policy, you'll find it easier to keep officers and find new volunteers. Ultimately, it's a matter of weighing such a generous reward for your officers against the fallout among your regular members.

If you're going to proceed in this fashion, you should put this policy in writing. Such a practice should never appear to be a back-door deal. Everything should be out in the open, and notes should be kept about who received what.

The other part of this argument is that the guild should stay well-funded for emergencies and for the appearance of wealth. Here's where I don't quite follow it. I can't recall ever experiencing a guild emergency that could be solved with gold. The closest thing I can imagine would be when an important new crafting recipe is added to the game, such as the new meta-gem cuts in 4.0.6. But how often does that happen that you need to hoard gold just in case?

As for the appearance of wealth, I really don't see it as an issue. I doubt that a new recruit is worried about the guild's stockpile.

Sharing the wealth

Concern's plan is to use the guild's wealth, including gold from sales of BoE items, to benefit all raiding members by providing flasks. This plan could also be extended to food, potions, enchants, gems, and other items that raiders require, as well as repairs.

The benefits here are rather obvious. Everyone, including officers, could save their own money, and the raid leader would be assured that everyone was fully prepared for every raid.

By doing so, you'd allow your raiders to have more cash on hand to buy or craft upgrades for themselves, so it's possible that it would even out compared to equipping the officers directly. More importantly, you'd earn goodwill from all of your raiders. That can go a long way if the guild finds itself struggling for a while. Your members may be less likely to jump ship if they have to give up their freebies by doing so.

A compromise

Perhaps the best solution is a compromise: Provide certain amenities such as feasts and cauldrons to everyone (either for free or at a discount), while expecting your regular raiders to fund their own enchants and gems. Meanwhile, you could offer your officers the perk of free gems or free enchants. That way, your officers feel rewarded and your members don't feel neglected.

You can also use your guild's gold to provide incentives. For example, you could encourage better attendance by creating a special rank for raiders with 90% or greater attendance. That rank could have access to guild bank repairs.

However, don't run your bank into the ground in a fit of generosity. Do the math and make sure you can cover everything you plan to provide before you promise it. Multiplying things by 25 means the costs ramp up rather quickly.

Also, keep in mind that even the juiciest BoEs will decrease in value over time, particularly once the next raiding tier is released, so try to sell them quickly. Every day they sit in a bank vault, they lose value.

A guild's gold is just another resource to be managed like any other. If you don't spend it on something to help somebody, you're wasting it. In my opinion, it's better to spend too freely than to lock it away in a vault and let it gather dust. If there's one true thing about WoW, it's that you can always make more gold if you need it.

/salute

Join us to learn how to survive the leveling process, deal with guild perk freeloaders, and discuss the guild talent controversy or the guild reputation system. Send Scott your guild-related questions and suggestions at scott@wowinsider.com; you may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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