HoustonPhotowalks manages events and RSVPs through the Meetup.com platform.  This means that members have the ability to submit complaints to Meetup.com about groups or the group organizer (or both).  A recent complaint was submitted about how HoustonPhotowalks handles money, and I wanted to share my response so it’s available to anyone else who has questions.

I won’t post the actual complaint out of respect for identifying the person who submitted it, but from my reply, you will get the gest.

Here is my reply:

Meetup.com has asked organizers not to have “in-person” events while local officials enforce in-person group size limitations. MU specifically asked us to transition to “online” events. Since March 20th, we have published 26 FREE educational and social opportunities to keep people in the HoustonPhotowalks.com community engaged (and to help keep people sane while in stay-at-home orders).

Since 2009, HoustonPhotowalks has paid for donations to museums/locations, venue rentals and entry fees, web hosting services, meetup.com fees, free bottles of water during the summer photowalks, tipped (bribed?) at least one security guard, purchased equipment for photowalks, etc, to the tune of $54,419.78 over 11 years.

As long as we maintain our commitment to the original reasons HoustonPhotowalks was established, abide by the meet.com Terms of Service, and our expenses are paid through ad revenue rather than membership “Dues” or “Fees”, we are comfortable raising money with ads.

I wish you had come to me to discuss this first before submitting a complaint to meetup.com. You only attended one event, so you didn’t get a chance to experience the various types of activities we do throughout the year.

We’ve provided 577 events in 11 years, on average 3 or 4 per month. It would be impossible to do everything we do without a budget. And at this time, that is supported by ad revenue. Compared to meetup groups in general that do not have an established budget and income flow, the number and quality of our events justify our income model.

I hope this explains things and appreciate the feedback, but we feel our ad-based and reasonably priced class fee funding is appropriate for the group rather than charging Membership Fees or Club Dues.



Joe Lippeatt
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Please note, required FTC Legal Disclaimer: HoustonPhotowalks uses affiliate marketing and advertising to generate revenue for our budget and the organizers who run the group. This money is used to pay Meetup.com fees, website hosting fees, classroom fees, teaching fees, donations to museums and venues, provide bottles of water when possible, compensate organizers for their time, etc. When you click links, the HoustonPhotowalks organization may receive a fee when you purchase a product or service.