If a for-profit company, quasi-nonprofit or organisation without a well defined status wants to operate as a non profit and they seem to be getting results... It seems a terrible waste not to help that exist, as a society or a legal system or whatnot.
If you have a million to spend on converting from non-profit to something else (or was that contingent on converting into a US for profit?), perhaps there are other options out there. What's the distinction between for profit and non profit in a "favourable" jurisdiction like Isle of Mann or The US Virgin Isles?
It sounds so needlessly wasteful.
Foreign corporations, for- or non-profit can operate in the USA. But they need to register in their state of operation in the U.S. as a foreign corporation. And unless they get a determination of tax-exempt status from the IRS, they would be subject to U.S. corporate income tax with respect to their U.S. operations.
Even U.S. corporations have to register as foreign corporations to operate outside of their state of incorporation.
I'm not sure I follow the logic here. If they weren't a non-profit, why would they have to give their assets to a non-profit in order to convert (and why would this cost them $1 million)?
The restrictions only apply to non-profits that want to be tax-exempt by the IRS. If you aren't considered charitable enough, then you just pay taxes as usual, but nobody is going to force a shut down of the non-profit because of that.
I couchsurfed with two different people over one weekend. While strictly speaking I was aiming to save money, my actual experience was very much one of culture exchange.
It is indeed true that when a non-profit converts to a for-profit, they have to "give something back".
At this point, personally, I end up making a few 'friends' and then sitting at a table or in a small standing group with half friends and half travelers. The friends part means I don't have to ask those hostel-type questions to every single person I talk to (where are you from, how long are you here for, what are you doing here, when are you leaving).
After some time, no matter the city, I start to realize who has been hooking up with/is interested in whom, and often times, one realizes most are there for a combination of this and the easy social aspect.
As for the site, their new redesign messed up a lot of functionality and completely did away with crowdsourced data from the communities. The CS city groups have totally become a "let's go get drinks since I'm in your city for two days" type thing, not to mention travelers are constantly asking the same questions and since CS took out the search function, including the previously mentioned deletion of years of crowdsourced info/tips, the site & quality of content has just gone downhill.
In summary, by crowdsourced data, I mean when someone asks where the best park is (for ex), they might get several viable answers from locals. After a few months, this post gets buried but with search it can easily be found again.
Then the VCs come in and mainstream media started to write about the site, which brings new crowd of people. Now it feels like dating/hookup site and meetings are now mostly expat gatherings of weekly drinking party of local english teachers.
I used to be active member of community, surfing over 5 continents, attending meetings in many many cities and countries. I don't surf anymore, but I do visit some meeting from time to time and I can tell how the vibe is completely different, also the long time members are gone.
I still get emails from CS though .. including one this morning from a Canadian who typically laments, in English: I have had a great trip so far but unfortunately have not got to meet and connect with many chinese people due to language barriers. Imagine that.
(Edit in reply to Michael below (out of posts): From the statistics at https://www.warmshowers.org/country_count it looks like Europe by far holds the most numerous number of members in the smallest geographical area, ie. it should be easiest to navigate solely by WarmShower hosts in this region.
Typical living costs for cycle touring Europe are 5 (stretch but possible) to 10 (feasible) to 15 (comfy) EUR/day for food. If you can budget 20 you can get drunk too. Add 5 for museums, I reckon you're good. 25EUR is about 28USD. The exchange rate is the best it has been in 10 years. Go now!!!)
Was it Hospitality Club? Another website that became a ghost town due to lack of innovation.
Now Meetup performs much of the same functions and is far easier to sign-up, navigate and participate. There's usually a bunch of couchsurfing 'meet-ups' in every major city.
Actually my family were thinking of buying some recumbent bikes and cycling this trip in Europe (3 months looking for a new house) but couldn't get enough info quick enough to make it happen. Kind of sux, but we're still keen. If you have any recommendations for places that stock or build custom recumbent bikes around western Europe, let me know.
PS. Your @shit_hn_says recommendation is great: a google of facepalms.
Their constant boasts of "purely democratic!" and "proudly spending zilch on technical talent!" are in reality, massive liabilities and impediments. The site has barely seen any growth in about eight years, and without "enough" users, it provides little value to anyone except the small, core group. Which they're perfectly fine with.
Several extremely talented coders who invested tons of time and skill into CS and BW over the years, finally started this last December:
Who's into MEAN? Drop them a line!
If I do this I'm only going to have a very limited amount of cash, and no real way to earn any during my travels.
I have the Boy Scout Wilderness Survival Merit Badge so it's not like I don't know how to sleep outdoors but even show a "Warm Shower" would be nice from time to time.
Weary travellers need to shower, sleep, and eat, so there's a custom of hosts providing some kind of food. But obviously that's up to the host. I cooked something simple with rice and beans and vegetables and it was very appreciated.
It's a bit too easy to lament how the quality of surfers has gone down as the community size has grown. While couchsurfers today are a more diverse crowd I think exposing the idea of couchsurfing to people who aren't you stereotypical backpacker is not necessarily cause for lament. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction for them to become involved too.
I was active myself on the old site and after a couple of years break I've decided to start again now that I have the space to easily host. During the few months I've had visitors stop by my flat here in Edinburgh I've had the pleasure of meeting a great amount of very different and almost always interesting people ranging from poor students on their first couch surfing trip to a guest hitch hiking overland from China to classical musicians from London to a travelling Blues Dance teacher.
Being in a cultural hotspot like Edinburgh I naturally receive a lot of requests, many of which looks blatantly copy/pasted. However since I decline most requests for lack of time anyway it's not much effort to filter through and find the people who seems like they are interested in meeting me and invite them in.
So at least speaking from my own experience I don't think there's any cause for alarm over the quality of the people on couchsurfing. But then again, I always found the meetups to be dreadful. As for the site itself I find the redesign annoying and wouldn't mind switching to a better site if any good contender came up, but so far the community on CS however much in decline is still much more active than any other site I know of.
I think a lot of the criticism is just life-cycle rooted. Sites grow, evolve and users of the "first hour" no longer see "their site" as what it once was and leave. I could say the same for... Ebay, for example – used to be fun to browse and sell. Now there are commercial sellers galore, millions of products and all the magic is gone. But that’s my personal perception. The site still works. Just not for me, so I have moved on. Doesn’t qualify calling Ebay "fallen" imo.
The employees I had lunch with spent most of the time dogging on the "technically incompetent hippies" that founded the company. The recruiter balked at my question about why they switched to Ruby on Rails, saying that, "anyone who thinks Ruby doesn't scale frankly doesn't know what they're talking about." My intent wasn't even to question the validity of the question, but the guy immediately got defensive.
Everyone I talked to was drunk on the "startup culture" they were trying to latch onto. Every person talked about the great monetization opportunities.
I had felt that CS had lost its magic many years before this interview, but the people running the company were the nail in the coffin for me.
We've hosted a bunch of people, and it's usually young people with little income (often students). And Couch Surfing works great for that: The website matches up people who look for a free place to stay with people who like sharing their place. And despite all the politics, couch surfing still works great for that!
TL;DR; Join. So far there's no other community like couchsurfing, take the best of it. It will impact you deeply.
If you want to see a _really_ ambitious CS-replacement project, sign-up at trustroots.org! These guys are experienced travelers and hosts, and very skilled and up-to-date, professional coders. They invested years of unpaid tech talent into CS and BW, before finally starting their own site last winter.
https://github.com/Trustroots/trustroots/ Got some MEAN skills? Get in touch with them!
We found it to greatly reduce conflicts between guests and hosts, and actually get people more engaged in our small community.
With couch surfing, I often had thoughts like "I pay for your room and you can't even put your dirty dishes away". Since we offered the room for free, we kind of expected some sort of autonomy from their side to help us out in the household or maybe cook some dinner for everyone if they stay longer than one night. They often expected that we would go explore the city with them and give them a lot of attention.
On airbnb that problem somehow mostly vanished. If things with the guest aren't great, at least you get paid. Thus you also don't need such a strict screening process anymore.
Due to this, there seems to be much more diversity regarding the types of people we get to meet.
Many of them actually just want a quiet room to sleep in, and it's absolutely fine.
Some people however really get involved and become good friends. Especially when they stay longer (which almost never happens on couch surfing), the fact that they pay rent just like everyone else seems to make some of them much more open to suggest improvements and be proactive.
We've met a lot of diverse, interesting people through airbnb, some of which ended up staying for a long time, some coming back regularly. On couch surfing we've mostly met the traveling couple, group of friends coming here to party and young backpacker stereotypes.
What killed couch surfing for me personally though, was that no matter how many people I've hosted, I could never find anyone who would host me when I was traveling somewhere.
That really destroyed the magical vision for me.
So much this. I've probably hosted easily 30-40 different groups or individuals (which is perhaps not a lot by CS standard, but fine, I've done my dues, no?), and I have only been able to surf 3 times, of which 2 were arranged by the attractive young lady I was travelling with (I am not 100% serious, that is sexist, but I suspect this dynamic does play a role). On the other hand, I have frequently sent out 20-50 reasonably personalized surfing requests, depending on popularity of destination, etc. Of course you'll have to take my word that I didn't just copy and paste a one-liner like "Hey I'll be in your city from x to y July, can I stay at your place?", but still, CS is dead to me, I don't even try to surf any more.
Another telling thing is that in many popular destinations (New York most recently for me) the first two pages of search results include predominantly photos of muscular males posing without t-shirts. Somehow I didn't feel drawn to that. :(
Great idea, tragedy of the commons?
Though, actually, back in 2010 I did find a CS host in Brooklyn, NY within maybe 5-10 requests, so YMMV.
Israel, I've been told by my guests, is very easy.
This part really does suck. They say to write a personalized message to someone available to host and who has things in common with you. Try as one may, this is hit or miss (more of a hit if you're a young, attractive female). I've tried countless times over the years, despite having all positive references and a full, friendly profile, but to no avail. People don't even respond, 95% of the time.
This means people are in general more open, especially other women, and especially those in cultures with more pronounced differences between the genders. Other women will be much more open to helping, in hitchhiking, in couchsuring and elsewhere.
Guys will also be more open, but often enough in an unwanted way, which thus always has to be considered (Schroedinger's rapist). Not all offers should be accepted. Thus, it's easier and harder.
Is that true? I'd think screening would be more for keeping out the nutters than anything else... and I suspect most people wouldn't want to host nutters even if they got paid.
If you pay for it and want to spend two weeks alone in your room and never talk to us, that's more or less fine.
If you live in my apartment for free and you're not getting involved in at least some way, I'll be angry and disappointed.
So that way, screening on CS needs to be much more thorough and the chance that you get disappointed is much higher.
 the "family" was very broadly defined - e.g it explicitly included unmarried S/O and their family, and implicitly close friends. but it wouldn't have included "someone I never met and who found me on couchsurfing.org".
May have small setups too..
some group unlock codes:
Why would a non-profit register in Delware:
"One advantage provided to corporations under the DGCL is flexibility in internal structure. Unlike some states such as New York, the DGCL requires a corporation to have only one director. A nonprofit corporation in Delaware must have members, but directors can serve as the only members. Unlike California, there is no requirement for a majority disinterested board. Finally, Delaware does not require the naming of corporate officers.
Delaware also generally applies less cumbersome regulation to the formation and operation of nonprofit corporations than some other states. Unlike New York, which requires in certain circumstances the approval of various state agencies prior to the formation of a nonprofit, an individual can form a Delaware nonprofit corporation simply by filing a certificate of incorporation. Delaware also does not require nonprofit corporations formed under Delaware law to register with its Attorney General’s office or file annual separate financial reports to the state (though if the nonprofit operates in Delaware, it may be required to file a copy of its federal Form 990 with the Delaware Attorney General). Finally, unlike some states, Delaware does not require any state government approvals for nonprofit corporate changes such as amendments to the certificate of incorporation, mergers, and dissolutions."
Looking at the Federal From 990 is important--IMHO. The public shouldn't have to pay to see that informantion. I don't know if couchsurfing even filed 990's? A disinterested board is important--for any non-profit--IMHO. Registering with the attorney generals office is important--IMHO. My point is if you are a San Francisco non-profit register in California. If you have a good cause, and all financial information is open public viewing; you might be surprised just how much money you raise?
Can BeWelcome be sold?
Differences with Other Networks