Admin Reference Manual


Need to find a group?  A Local Admin?  A Regional Admin?  Our Worldwide Map for Admins is a  wealth of information:

Welcome to the Buy Nothing Project!

Thank you for joining the Buy Nothing Project.  This document outlines the Roles and Responsibilities of our Local Admins.  Please take a moment to look this over carefully as you prepare to begin guiding your group, and return to this document to refresh your knowledge often.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your Regional Admin.  

Responsibilities of the Local Buy Nothing Project Admin

The primary responsibility of every Buy Nothing Project Admin is to uphold, through example and explanation, the Mission of the Buy Nothing Project. Our Admins achieve this goal by performing the tasks described in this document.

Other duties that might be performed by a Local Admin include:

We perform these duties collaboratively, with each admin taking on the tasks that feel most comfortable to them, as long as all of these tasks are completed.  

Toward these ends, all admins commit to:

  • inciples, and provide administrative support to the Founders, Regional and Local Admins. 


As representatives of the Buy Nothing Project and stewards of our local groups, we expect all of our Local Admins to:


There are four teams of Admins in the Buy Nothing Project Admin structure.

  • Local Admins uphold, through example and explanation, the Mission of the Buy Nothing Project in our hyper-local gifting groups;
  • Development Admins assist with the creation and setup of new groups to the Buy Nothing Project, and collaborate with those interested in introducing the Buy Nothing Project to their neighborhood;
  • Regional Admins provide information, guidance and support to the Local Admins, on behalf of the Founders and the Global Admin Team, as well as providing conflict resolution and problem solving;
  • Global Admins collaborate with the Founders to guide the Buy Nothing Project in keeping with the Mission and Pr

Back to Top

Participate and lead by example

First, you are a member of your local group. As a member, you are bound by the same rules and standards as all other members. You will want to participate actively in your group. Your actions as a member speak volumes and oftentimes your modeling of good community behavior is more effective than your actions as an admin.  Your voice sets the tone of the group and can be used to motivate members and get them involved. Creative sharing ideas, inspirational Buy Nothing stories from other groups, general reminders, and group challenges are effective ways to engage your neighbors.

Back to Top

Respond to membership requests

Each of the groups in the Buy Nothing Project has specific boundaries, determined by landmark areas, transportation patterns, and population density, as well as other factors. In order to participate in any of our groups, each person must confirm that they are an adult*, living within the boundaries of that group, and that they do not belong to any other groups within the Buy Nothing network.  There are no exceptions to this rule.

ALL contact between Local Admins and potential members should be done via Facebook’s messaging system. Not via email, or any other means. The name of the admin listed in the Group Description should be a real person and may not be an alias or shared FB account (since this is against FB TOS)

We ask our admins to reach out to contact every person who attempts to join our groups, in order to establish their eligibility.

Admins are asked to confirm, with reasonable certainty, that a person:

  • lives within the boundaries of the group
  • is an “adult” as defined in your area
  • is not in any other Buy Nothing Project group

Please keep in mind that the messages you send to anyone while using your admin “hat” represent the Buy Nothing Project mission, but you are free to express yourself and your personality. These members could become your friends, so be friendly! 🙂

There are a few things that you should not ask for:

  • Exact addresses
  • Dates of Birth
  • Any other personally identifying information, for reasons of privacy
  • A confirmation that they have “read” or “agree” to our Rules and Guidelines

We trust each of our members, as adults, to answer truthfully and to be responsible for their own actions.

If you are unable to personally contact a person (for example, if their Facebook profile does not give you the option to send them a message, or their name is in black or grey text), we prefer that you decline their request to join our groups.

Methods of Membership Verification:

Here is a quick reference chart for admins handling membership requests:13557755_10206078817759711_4677838633333175257_n*Our definition of “adult” refers to the *most restrictive* definition in your area (country/state/county/city). In most cases, this age is the legal drinking age, but this is not always the case.  

We allow our admins to make exceptions to our minimum age rules based on their understanding of the person’s living situation and level of maturity.  Specifically, we permit exceptions for young parents, and members of military families, as long as those people also exhibit through their communications with the admin that they can be trusted to participate in keeping with our Mission, Principles and Rules.  Exceptions should be made very rarely and only after serious consideration.  Please contact your Regional Admin with any questions.

If you receive a request from someone who is under the minimum age for your group, you can refer them to another project by the Founders of the Buy Nothing Project:, as well as the new Buy Nothing 7 Challenge.

Messaging Method:

Using the messaging method, Admins wait until they have heard back from a prospective member before adding them to the group.

There are sample messages for this procedure in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum here.

Here’s a sample message to get you started:

Hello. Thank you for your request to join Buy Nothing (groupname). This group is for the residents of the (neighborhood) neighborhood of (city, state, country if needed). I am an admin for the group and would like to approve your request.  Before I can do that, I need to verify some information.
Would you please provide your nearest cross streets (or other landmark) and confirm for me that you are over the age of (minimum age for your area) and do not belong to any other groups affiliated with the Buy Nothing Project?
Thank you!

Some neighbors requesting to join a group will read the Group Description, and will send you all the information that you need right up front.


Others will provide some of the information, and you’ll just have to ask some followup questions.

Here’s an example:bnpvol

Some neighbors may be added by a friend of theirs. You can customize your message to these people. As they did not personally request to join the group, they may not be expecting your note, and may mistake you for a spammer.

Hello. I am an admin for Buy Nothing (groupname). Your friend (friend’s name) thought you might be interested in joining this group. This group is for the residents of the (neighborhood) neighborhood of (city, state, country if needed).
If you are interested in joining this group, would you please provide your nearest cross streets (or other landmark) and confirm for me that you are over the age of (minimum age for your area) and do not belong to any other groups affiliated with the Buy Nothing Project?
Thank you!

If you have not heard back from each of these prospective members within a few days, you may “decline” their request.  If you also provide a link to your group in your message, the person will be able to return to the group and request membership again in the future, when they find your message in their hidden message folders.

Add / Tag / Verify:


Using the Add/Tag/Verify method, Admins follow these steps:
When someone requests to join the group:

1. Send a message to each prospective member.  Here’s an example:

Hello. Thank you for your request to join Buy Nothing (groupname). This group is for the residents of the (neighborhood) neighborhood of (city, state, country if needed). As an admin for this group, I will be adding you to the group shortly. I will then tag you in a post to get your attention and ask you to reply to my message, so that I can verify that this is the right group for you.
Would you please provide your nearest cross streets (or other landmark) and confirm for me that you are over the age of (minimum age for your area) and do not belong to any other groups affiliated with the Buy Nothing Project?
Thank you!

2. Add the person to your group.  (Some admins choose to add first, and then message. As long as these two steps are performed close together, the exact order does not matter.)

3. Using a single post in your group, add each person’s name in the comments, tagging them to get their attention. This is a great way to alert these prospective members that you have sent them a message, which may be waiting for them in their “other” folder or in their “message requests”.

Here’s an example of an Add/Tag/Verify post:


Hopefully, each of these members will reply to the message you sent them and provide the necessary information.

If you have not heard back from each of these prospective members within 24-48 hours, remove them from the group.  They may still get back to you later, but for now they will need to be removed.

When you receive an answer from a prospective member:

Whether you are using the Messaging Method or the Add/Tag/Verify Method, once you have heard back from each new member, and have confirmed their location and eligibility for the group, please respond to them with a brief welcome. Here is an example:

Great! Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read the information in our “Files” section (you may provide a link here), including our Rules and FAQ.   Welcome to the group!

If you receive a request from someone who lives outside your area,   please make an effort to help them find the right group. You could do this by looking up their location on your regional map and connecting them with the right group, or by referring them to the Find-A-Group page.

If there is not currently a group set up for the person to join, refer them to our Start-A-Group page to start their own!

If you receive a request from someone who is under the minimum age for your group, you can refer them to another project by the Founders of the Buy Nothing Project:, as well as the new Buy Nothing 7 Challenge.



Back to Top

What to do if a member is in more than one group

Some people will request to join more than one group at a time, or may already be in a group when you get their request.  Some people may have recently moved from one neighborhood to another. Some members will request the wrong group, or they might live on a boundary line and need help choosing a group.  We ask that you help all of these people find the right group and remove themselves from any groups they may have been added to by mistake.

If you find out that a member is in more than one group, the first thing to do is send them a message.  We always assume that these members have joined multiple groups accidentally, and your message reflects that perspective.

Here’s an example:

Hello! I am an admin for the Buy Nothing Project, doing a bit of housekeeping, and I have noticed that you are in more than one of our groups.  Did you move? Did you join more than one by mistake? If you could give me an idea of where you live, I’d be happy to help you find the right group for you.  Thanks!

You can then wait to hear back from them.  When they reply to you, and provide you with a location, the next thing to do is to contact the admins for the other groups and ask them to remove this member.  You can also contact your Regional Admin to assist with this process.

Even if the information that they give you seems inconsistent or inaccurate, just take their word for it. If they end up in the wrong group, you will eventually hear back from another member letting you know.

If you don’t hear back within a few days, you can send a second message, like this one:

I’m sorry we were unable to connect to determine which group your neighbors are in. For now, we’ll have to remove you from our groups until we can sort this out.  As soon as you get back to me, we can get you back into the right group. I look forward to hearing from you!

We ask that you then contact all related admins and ask that the member be removed from all groups until contact can be made.  Again, you can also contact your regional admin for assistance with this.

Back to Top

How to find out if a member is in more than one group

Facebook gives us a way to compare the membership records of two groups, to find members that are enrolled in both groups.

In order to do this, you will need the Facebook-assigned identification numbers for the groups you would like to compare. This number is included in the URL for the group.
Example: The URL for the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum is: . The identification number is therefor 1376812719222837.

To compare two Facebook groups, enter the following string into your browser’s address bar:

Replace (GROUPNUMBER) with the identification number of the groups you would like to compare.

Back to Top

Review posts and comments

All posts and comments must comply with our Buy Nothing Project Rules.  There is also a list of Standards, which are preferences for any posts or comments in our groups.

Here is a quick reference chart to determine whether a post or comment is suitable:


Some posts may be removed immediately.  These posts and comments might include:

  • Spam
    • If you believe that a person has joined the group for the sole purpose of posting spam or some other inappropriate content, you may remove them from the group  until you are able to make personal contact with them.  You may then send a note to the person explaining that they have been removed from the group and that they may contact you in order to be re-added.  This allows for members whose accounts may have been compromised or “hacked” while still protecting the other members and the integrity of the Buy Nothing Project.
  • Offers or requests for anything illegal
    • All items gifted in our groups must conform to all federal, state and local laws, as well as Facebook’s Community Guidelines.  We do not allow the gifting of anything on Facebook’s list of Regulated Goods, including prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition. We also do not allow the gifting of items that endorse or oppose any current political party, candidate, or ballot option.   There is more information for admins here.
  • Personal insults, slurs, or anything that veers toward hate speech.
    •  If you believe that a member has violated our Keep It Civil rule, you may also remove that member from the group for a short time (just to let them cool off) or for an indefinite period.

If a post or a comment falls outside of our Rules, but is not spam or anything illegal, we ask that admins first add a comment to the thread asking your neighbor to edit their post or comment.

Please keep a particular eye out for:

  • Personal status updates or community announcements posted to the group in error.
  • Offers to buy, sell or trade
  • Marketing or advertising
  • Referrals or suggestions for local businesses
  • Requests for  monetary assistance, including requests for loans, cash or donations
  • Discussions unrelated to the gift-economy

If you have commented on the post and asked that it be edited or revised, and you receive no reply, you may choose to remove these posts or comments.

We always assume that these posts or comments were made in error, without any malicious intent.  We approach these situations with compassion and understanding, and do everything we can to make sure that our neighbors understand not only the Rules of the Buy Nothing Project, but also the Mission, and how those Rules support our Mission.  We guide our neighbors through our unique rules with consistency, to prevent confusion and misunderstandings. If a member, after repeated reminders within the group and private messaging, is unable to abide by the rules you may remove them from the group.

There is only one type of discussion post permitted in Buy Nothing groups.  In addition to gifts, requests, and expressions of gratitude, we allow a very limited scope of discussions directly related to this Project.  We suggest that you monitor these discussions closely, and answer any questions carefully and accurately, with references to the Buy Nothing Project Mission, Rules and Standards.

In addition to our Rules, we also have certain guidelines or preferences for our groups. We call these guidelines “Standards”.
If a post or comment falls outside of our Standards, we suggest that you make a polite comment or request, pointing out the issue and requesting a revision. These are not to be “demands”, and no post or comment needs to be removed due to lack of compliance with our Standards.
These types of posts or comments might include:
  • Using abbreviations or acronyms like ISO, INO
  • Using single-word comments or responses like “Want” or “Next”
  • Including more than one photo in the main post (additional photos may be added in comments)
  • Stating the monetary value of a gift
  • Repeatedly “bumping” a post
  • Lack of information which might lead to miscommunications

There are also some requests that we make of our members

  • Letting posts “simmer”
  • Editing posts to let people know that gifts have been gifted
  • Picking gifts up on time
  • Describing faults in an item
  • Meeting up in person

If these issues come up infrequently and do not appear to disrupt the group, admins may also decide to “look the other way”. You are in no way required to comment on these posts and comments. However, we’d like to be clear that you are also not restricted from doing so.

If you notice an increase in posts and comments that do not meet our Standards, you may want to post an Admin Reminder.
Failure to follow these suggestions is not grounds for dismissal from our groups.

Finally, some groups have certain tips for making our groups easier to navigate.  These tips might include:

  • Labeling posts with Ask/Gift/Gratitude
  • Designations such as “Flash Give”

Please keep in mind that these Hints and Tips are not part of the Buy Nothing Project Fine Print.  These hints and tips may not be “enforced” and are not grounds for removal, nor to correct a member.  As a member of the group, you are free to model these habits, but you must not lead your members to believe that these are Rules or even Guidelines/Standards in any way.

Remember: as long as the poster’s intentions are clear, there are no required terms in Buy Nothing, just a request for clarity and friendliness.

If a neighbor posts a question that you cannot answer, or has a complaint that you feel uncomfortable addressing, feel free to tag your Regional Admin in a comment. This alerts the Regional Admin to a situation and also introduces your Regional Admin to your neighbors.

If you find yourself in the midst of a conflict or a disagreement, remember to take a break, seek guidance, and approach every situation in the spirit of empathy and understanding.  If a win/win solution can’t be found, all Admins are expected make every effort to resolving conflicts with dignity and grace for all parties.

Back to Top

Providing guidance using posts, comments and reminders

As you guide your neighbors through our rules and guidelines, we encourage you to  connect with them one-on-one. We encourage our members to communicate clearly with one another, and we encourage our admins to do the same.

If you find a post or comment that is outside of our rules and guidelines, try to deal directly with the person who posted, either by commenting on the post or comment, or by sending a private message, rather than posting a broad reminder or public announcement.

If you notice a trend in posts or comments, or find that there are a number of members who seem to need clarification on something, you may find it useful to post an “Admin Reminder”. These reminders serve to provide information about our Rules and Guidelines, educate the members about our Mission and Principles, and alert our members to any changes in the Project.

You may also post an “activity” or a “challenge” to encourage member participation.

The first place to look for an Admin Reminder or a Group Activity is the photo albums in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum. There, you will find photos and graphics that have been approved for use throughout the project.

If you can’t find what you are looking for, would like to use an existing reminder with a new photo, or would like to create your own Admin Reminder or Group Activity post, we ask that you keep the following in mind:

  • It has always been the Founders’ wish that we approach admin reminders and activities with evocative, original photo images and captions that encourage the thought/action desired in a guiding way.
  • Using real photos (rather than graphics or clip art) visually reinforces the Buy Nothing Project’s mission of connecting real-life neighbors.
  • If you are unable to provide your own original photo image, please be sure to always use copyright / attribution free images.
  • Please use images that accurately reflect the culture and tone of the Buy Nothing Project, its Mission, and its Principles. Our groups are made up of adults from all backgrounds and cultures.
  • Focus on positive instructions and examples (i.e. what to do, rather than what not to do). Avoid using sentences starting with the word “No” or images with red slashes over them to demonstrate what is not allowed.
  • Always align your words with our Standards and Guidelines, with a friendly and inviting tone. Refrain from using any degree of sarcasm, irony or mockery in your messages.
  • When creating a Group Activity or Challenge, refrain from using the word “Game”. Activities and challenges inspire members to notice their abundance and encourage participation in your local gifting economy, whereas “games” imply a culture of scarcity and competition. Please choose your words carefully.
  • The preferred format for graphics is that they include just a few words (if any) overlaying a photo (like a headline), with the bulk of the message conveyed in the caption to the photo and not in the image itself. This makes our messages accessible to all members, including those using text-to-speech or translation software.
  • The best way to make sure that your Reminders are in alignment with our Rules and Standards is to copy words from our Fine Print or from our FAQ.

You can find the text for some Admin Reminders in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum here.

If you will be using the image or reminder only on a local level, you may use it without seeking review or approval, though it is advisable to seek the advice of your Regional Admin if you have any questions.

If you would like to share the image or reminder with other admins in your region, you may post it to your Local Admin group, with the approval of your Regional Admin.

If you would like to share it with your fellow admins, you may submit these images and reminders to the Project at Please include a statement as to the copyright status and source of the image you have included, and the caption you have prepared. If your graphics are approved by the Global Admin team, they will be added to the photo albums and we will tag you to let you know. Please do *not* upload photos or graphics to the Admin Photo Albums in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum, or create any additional photo albums.

Back to Top

Grounds for Removal

It is sometimes necessary to remove members, neighbors, and even friends from our groups.  This is not an easy decision for an admin to make, and is not to be taken lightly.  We do not remove people for making mistakes, having a bad day, or sometimes choosing the wrong words to use.  We remove people only after we have seen a pattern or repeated behavior that is incompatible with membership and participation in the Buy Nothing Project.

Grounds for removal from a group are included in The Fine Print, and include the following:

  • Posting spam, marketing posts or items for sale
  • Joining any group with a fraudulent account(s) or with the purpose to defraud others
  • Incivility towards or between group members
  • Disrespect toward group members, their privacy or their property
  • Dishonesty or obtaining items under false pretenses in order to sell said items without disclosing that intention
  • Repeated instances of disregard for our rules or principles
  • Blocking or failing to communicate with an admin
  • Repeated complaints about the group or our rules
  • Statements in the group that lead the admin to believe that you are unhappy in the group or would like to be removed.

Finally, we reserve the right to delete anything that we feel doesn’t belong in our groups, usually without notice, or to remove members who act in a way that is not in accordance with our Rules, Standards or Principles.

Back to Top

Removal Process

NOTE:  As mentioned in the section on reviewing posts and comments, failure to comply with our Standards (also known as Guidelines) is not a viable reason to remove a member from a group, nor is failure to comply with any Tips or Suggestions for using a particular Buy Nothing Project group.

Examples:  No member is to be removed from a group for the following:

  • Gifting items without letting them “simmer”;
  • Failure to pick up in a timely manner;
  • Failure to describe faults with an item;
  • Failure to meet up in person;
  • Conflicts with a neighbor that are unrelated to the Buy Nothing Project;
  • Selling items*;
  • Any Other Reason that is not specifically related to the Buy Nothing Project and listed in our Grounds for Removal.

*The grounds for removal specifically state: Dishonesty or obtaining items under false pretenses in order to sell said items without disclosing that intention.  If the member did not make any false statements in order to obtain the item, then that item is now theirs to do with as they please.

Removal from our groups is rarely permanent.  The Buy Nothing Project believes in giving people second, and even third, fourth or fifth chances.

Admins may start out with a short term removal.  This, combined with communication with the member, can sometimes resolve these issues.

When short term removal is not sufficient, admins may resort to a longer, but still temporary, suspension from the group.

Finally, when all previous solutions have failed, you may need to remove a member for an indefinite period of time.  If they reach out to re-join the group in the future, please contact your Regional Admin for assistance in re-evaluating their membership, in the hopes they will abide by our very few, but clear, rules.

Whenever a member is removed, they have the option to reach out to the Project organizers. These messages go through the Global Admins, the Member Relations Team and the Regional Admins. We review each of these issues on a case by case basis. During this review, we may reach out to the admins for screenshots, history, or other information. After that review, we may determine that the member was removed in error, and we may reinstate that member. We may also decide that the admins actions were in keeping with our Mission and Principles and we may uphold the removal.

Admins may keep a list of those members who have been removed so future admins are aware of potential conflicts.  There may be a “Do Not Add” list in your Local Admins Group.  At your own discretion, you can readmit offending members after some time (time out/suspension), in hopes they will abide by our very few, but clear, rules.

There is no Project-Wide “Do Not Add” list.

If you and your fellow co-Admins have determined that it is necessary to remove a member, we ask that one of the admins send  a message to the member, explaining why they have been removed and when they may be reconsidered for membership in the group.   We ask that this message be as factual and informational as possible. If a removed-member contacts the Buy Nothing Project with some objection to this action, we may ask for the information contained in these communications.

Always remember that these members are also your neighbors – people you may run into at the post office or at the park.  Your Regional Admin is available to assist you when dealing with these difficult situations.

Back to Top


The goal of the Buy Nothing Project is to create and nourish a network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.  When our groups get too big, it makes the giving difficult, and we lose our focus on people who get lost in all the stuff. We’ve seen this first-hand in our groups, usually accompanied by people having a hard time finding their own posts, debates about how to gift, increased complaints about no-shows and flash-gifting, lack of clarity on basic core Buy Nothing rules and other issues.

To maintain our hyper-local focus, when the Buy Nothing Project administration determines that a group has out-grown its current incarnation, it will be transformed into smaller groups devoted to more smaller neighborhood regions.  We call these transformations “sprouts”.  All admins are expected to assist with this process, helping their members find their new groups, confirm their location and leave their old group.

Signs that it might be time to start planning your hyper-localization:

  • Many gifts are being offered on a “first come first served” basis;
  • Members start complaining about the “speed” of the group, or how quickly gifts are being claimed;
  • An increase in “no-shows” or lack of follow-through;

We usually see these signs when group membership reaches between 800 and 1000 members.

If you start to see these signs, and suspect that hyper-localization  may be the next step, contact your Regional Admin for assistance.

Back to Top

Seeking out additional Admins and Co-Admins

You may post a request for new Admins or Co-Admins whenever you feel the need for additional assistance.  You may also reach out to your Regional Admin for help with this.  When a member steps up, use your judgment to decide whether this person would be a good fit for you.  You are the person who will be working alongside this new admin, and you may have interacted with them in the past, so you are the person best qualified to make this decision.

Once you have decided:

  • Send the new co-Admin’s name and email address to the Regional Admin.
  • The regional admin will send a copy of the Admin Orientation document, a link to this document, a link to the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum, and the Local Admin (regional) group to the new Admin.
  • A Welcome message announcement will be posted once they join the Admin groups.
  • Your Regional Admin will promote them to “Admin” status in the local group.

Back to Top

Collaborating with Co-Admins and Regional Admins

You are a Local Admin. It is likely that you are a part of a team with at least one other Local Admin.  Each of you will have equal status as admins and mentors for the group. We do not have “Lead Admins”. All Local Admins are expected to communicate, collaborate and cooperate with their Co-Admins and Regional Admins.  In case of a disagreement between co-admins, please immediately contact your Regional Admin.  Do not ever remove or block another admin.  It is especially important that no Buy Nothing Project admin block their Regional Admin or any Global Admin.   If your Regional Admin or a Global Admin is unable to reach you, after repeated attempts, you may be removed from your position as an Admin until contact can be reestablished.

The day-to-day duties of the Local Admin may be shared or split up between Co-Admins in whatever way works best for all involved.  You and your Co-Admins are there to support one another in all situations.  Here’s what Liesl Clark said about collaboration:

We see this project as a collaboration among us all. We’d love to see admins finding ways to solve problems together, even those you disagree on, rather than parting ways. Our project was founded upon the principle of community and sharing. If our admins can’t share in the stewardship role of running a gift economy, recognizing even celebrating our differences, our diversity, and teaching tolerance, then we aren’t really practicing what we preach.

Your Regional Admin is there to answer your questions, provide information on behalf of the co-founders and the development team, assist with conflict resolution, monitor for cross-group memberships and to intervene on your behalf when needed.  Your Regional Admin may occasionally remove “reported posts” from the groups, or alert you to issues that they see brewing.  Your Regional Admin is also your contact point in case of any conflicts between Co-Admins, if you would like to add a new Co-Admin, or if you need to step down as a Local Admin.

The Buy Nothing Project has a structure set up so that Regional Admins, the Global Admin team, and Founders Liesl Clark & Rebecca Rockefeller, can provide resolution and clarification on any issues brought to the project. The Co-founders, as well as the Head of Development, Shelley Schwinn, have full access and administrative privileges in all Buy Nothing groups at all times.

Back to Top

Staying Informed

All Admins must be familiar with our Rules, Standards and Guidelines, and our Mission and Principles.

  • If you are not familiar with the Buy Nothing Project as a whole, please also take a moment to check out the About page on our website.
  • Make sure you are familiar with all of our Rules and Standards.
  • Another great source of information is our FAQ page.

Every Local Admin must be a member of their Local Admin group, as well as the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  Your Regional Admin can provide a link to your Local Admin group.  

It is your responsibility to stay informed about changes to the project and to review the Volunteer Forum and your  Local Admin group regularly.  Local, Regional or Global Admins may reach out to contact you via these groups or via private message.  There are times when these communications will be time sensitive and very important.  We ask that you check your messages frequently and respond to any communication from a Regional or Global Admin as soon as possible. If Admins and Regional Admins are unable to contact you for any extended period of time, you could be removed as an admin until contact can be reestablished.

If you have any questions about the project, your duties, or about specific posts or members, first consult with your Local Admin Group.  The other members of this group are admins in groups in your region.  These admins are probably best informed about the culture and customs of your particular area and can offer you the most personalized advice.

If you cannot find an answer to your question in your Local Admin Group, your next stop is the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  First, search the group for a few keywords. It is possible that another admin has asked the very same question you have.  If you still cannot find what you are looking for, feel free to post to the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  These posts are held for review before posting, so if you need a quick answer and resolution to the issue you are experiencing, your Local Admin Group is definitely your best option.

You are encouraged to join other Buy Nothing groups in your region as an observer, in order to learn from other Local Admins and also in order to share resources and information with your fellow Local Admins.  Observing admins are assigned “member” status only.  You may not ask for or receive items from areas other than your own, or otherwise participate in any way. Members are only allowed to participate in one group, and Admins set the example.

When joining another Buy Nothing group as an observer, please reach out to the membership admin of that group (found in the “About” section) to let them know who you are and the name of your group.

Back to Top

Using Facebook

As representatives of the Buy Nothing Project, all admins must abide by Facebook’s Terms of Service, to prevent any possible risk to the Project or its groups on this free platform. This includes the use of one single personal account to perform all admin duties, as well as careful  use of Facebook’s features such as messaging and tagging to avoid having your account disabled by Facebook for suspicious activity.

Back to Top

Settings and Documents in Groups

Every group within the Buy Nothing Project network is subject to the same rules and policies, regardless of location or size.  No group may create rules or membership requirements exclusive to their group.

Each group is set up by the Development Team with specific settings that are consistent across the network. It is very important that admins do not change the banner of the group, the url (including creating a “custom url”), the group type, any of the group settings, the group description, or any of the primary documents.

Our Documents and Group Description are subject to copyright and are to be edited only in a very limited way.  Admins may edit the  Group Description to include a point of contact for new members.  However, no other parts of the Group Description are to be changed or rearranged in any way.

If there are any issues with any of these documents or settings, please contact your Regional Admin.  

Back to Top


Unfortunately, this platform doesn’t always make it easy for us to contact one another if we aren’t already “friends”. Be sure that you know the location of all of your message folders:

Please keep an eye out for “quirks” or “bugs” in the groups. If you feel that something is not working as it should, use the “Report a Problem” feature to report the problem to Facebook.

You may also alert the Buy Nothing Global Admin team by posting in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  Please take a moment to search the group for the issue you are having before posting it, to avoid multiple reports on the same topic.

Finally, Facebook sometimes introduces “new features” which may seem like an advantage to our groups but turn out to be less-than-helpful. As an example, the Buy Nothing Project has decided *not* to use the “Moderator” feature. All of our admins have the same level of access in our groups, as we all collaborate together toward our Mission.

We also do not use the “Sell Something” feature, nor do we encourage the use of the “Turn Off Commenting” option.  When Facebook rolls out a new feature of any kind, please check in with your Regional Admin before using it.

Back to Top

Conflict Resolution

If you find yourself in conflict, be it with a member, a co-Admin, or a Regional Admin, we expect all of our volunteers to communicate in a way that aligns with our Mission and Principles.


  • We value people and their stories and narratives above the ‘stuff.’
  • We are inclusive and civil at our core.
  • We value honesty and integrity in all our interactions.
  • We view all gifts as equal; the human connection is the value.
  • We believe every community has the same wealth of generosity and abundance.

Back to Top

True, Kind, Necessary

We ask that our volunteers make every effort to join us in communicating in ways that are True, Kind, and Necessary.

Here are some words from our Buy Nothing Project Coach,  Lyssa Danehy DeHart

Imagine a stool, three legs that hold up the seat. Without one of the legs, the stool becomes unstable.

When thinking about True, Kind, Necessary (TKN) in respect to conversations, it’s important to remember to use these ideas together in order to have the best outcome. We need all three aspects TNK to have our most successful conversations. In happy and agreeing conversations we don’t even have to think about these qualities because we are having fun and we are not threatening someone else’s viewpoint or sense of themselves. Intent and Impact are very important, especially in difficult conversations or situations. Often times we bring our judgment, ego and opinions into the arena and while we may have a positive intent, we can end up having a negative impact.

True – Obviously we want to be honest in our handling of information and give honest reflection to people. It also helps to truthfully communicate our own feeling and experience, without telling others how they feel, what their intent was, or judging their behavior as the issue. Ask yourself some questions: Am I making an assumption? Do I have enough information or are there other questions I need to get info on? Am I exaggerating or escalating the truth? We can rapidly set people up to feel attacked and that either tunes them out or engages them in an argument. Also, if I am telling you a truth, from my perspective, and I am unkind in my delivery, or it’s really not my place to share my truth, I run a very real risk of landing poorly on you and feeding a fight.

Kind – This is the level of how we approach a conversation with compassion and gentleness. We might be sharing our truth without thought to other people’s feelings. In conversations that we have with others we can inadvertently hurt people’s feelings, Intent/Impact. This is especially true in the texting, typing, IM’ing medium. People can’t read our non-verbal body language, we may not even know each other, and so we end responding to things based on how we feel the message is coming at us. If it’s a difficult situation, people may already be defensive. Kindness is about intention. We can decide if our intention is to be helpful or hurtful. If it’s to be helpful and our message still lands poorly, apologizing for the unintended outcome is kindness too.

Necessary – Why are we vested in sharing our perspective? What’s our goal for the conversation? Have we been asked for feedback? Or, are we trying to ‘teach’ someone something we think we need to know? Is what we’re about to say, for the greater good of the person we are speaking/writing to? I also like to ask myself, “Is what I am about to say, think or do, going to take me one step closer to my goal or one step further away?”

There are definitely times that we do need to speak up, maybe we see a way to help someone be more efficient or correct something. Or, we may be setting a healthy boundary on how others speak to us, or what we are willing or not willing to do for someone. The more necessary the conversation is, typically the more painful it runs the risk of being. Which is why adding the elements of True and Kind to Necessary can help the conversation go better for all parties.

In communication, there is another area to consider. Let’s call this the fourth leg of the stool, increasing stability.

Timing – Are you calling someone out in public or private? Are you giving them time to respond or pushing for an instant response? Can you have a face-to-face conversation, even if we are talking Skype versus an email argument or texting war?

Think about our own timing; are we hungry, tired, overwhelmed, or not feeling well? All these factors can affect how we bring ourselves to any difficult conversation.

Giving ourselves time to cool down before responding is helpful too. If I get fired up about something, my brain floods with Adrenaline and Cortisol and increases my reactivity, while decreasing my ability to think through a situation. We can all get HiJacked by our brain. Have you ever had an intense conversation and then later think of all the things you wished you had said instead? If I give myself an hour or a day before responding, I have time to engage my thinking brain again and I may come up with a much better response.

Even using these tools will not guarantee a 100% positive outcome in every situation. But, your odds for a better conversation are greatly increased.

Back to Top

Tenets of the Buy Nothing Project

Admins are expected to treat all members and applicants with civility and respect, and in keeping with the core tenets of the Buy Nothing Project.

The role of Admin is not for everyone. We understand this, and we hope there are no hard feelings if things don’t work out.

The Buy Nothing Project reserves the right to remove admins who act or communicate in a way that leads the administration to believe that they are not a good fit for this endeavor.

Back to Top

Buy Nothing Project Admin Groups

Volunteer Forum
For: All Admins & other Buy Nothing Project Volunteers
Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum

Where all volunteers turn for resources, knowledge, brainstorming and to draw on each other’s experience and ideas

Local Admin Groups
For: Admins within a specific region, Regional Admins, some Global Admins
Find your Local Admin Group here.

Where Local Admins meet to discuss issues in a smaller more personal environment, connect with other admins in their region, make referrals between groups, and receive guidance and information from their Regional Admin.

Regional & Member Relations Admin Group
For: Regional Admins, Member Relations Admins, Global Admins

Where Regional Admins can discuss sensitive issues, preview upcoming changes to the Buy Nothing Project and communicate with the Global Admin Team.

Development Group
For:  Regional Admins, Development Admins, Global Admins

Where Development Admins and Regional Admins can find all of the resources and communication tools they need for the processes of Development and Hyper-localization.

Global Admin Group
For: Global Admins, Founders

Where Global Admins collaborate with Founders to guide the Buy nothing Project in keeping with the Mission and Principles

Back to Top

Privacy and confidentiality

Admins are expected to protect and respect the privacy and confidentiality of all member-related information, documentation or discussions.

Our Admin groups are intended to be safe spaces, where admins can share information, collaborate on solutions, seek encouragement, and celebrate successes.  Information shared in these groups is to be considered confidential.

Private message threads or emails relating to member conduct, membership eligibility information are likewise to be considered private and are not be shared outside of our Admin community.

Any information provided to an admin for purposes of membership eligibility verification is also to be similarly safeguarded, never to be shared with non-admins, never be published or distributed in any way, and to be used only for purposes for which it was submitted.

Back to Top

Stepping down or taking a break

Going on vacation?  Have some big things happening in your life?  Maybe you need to step down to focus on other things; maybe you just need a break.

We understand that “life happens”.  All we ask is that you keep us informed.

If you find that you have something going on in your life that might prevent you from performing any of the above duties in a kind and compassionate manner, please contact your Regional Admin to arrange to take some time away from your role as a Local Admin. If you find that the values of the Buy Nothing Project no longer work for you, or there are other areas of your life that require more of your attention and you are unable to continue as a Local Admin, advise your Regional Admin with as much advance notice as possible and work to facilitate a smooth transition for your neighbors.

Back to Top

More Information

Please take some time to browse the posts and comments in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  Take a look in the Files section, and look through the Admin Reminders in our photo albums. Many Local Admin groups have additional information that you will find useful.

Finally, feel free to bookmark this page, for future reference!

Thank you for your dedication to the Buy Nothing Project.  

%d bloggers like this: