The Guild Bank
I can think of few more annoying duties within a guild than being the guild’s banker (or one of them). And yet, it too can be a place that is devastating to the guild, not least due to ‘embezzlement’. Let’s take some time to examine what the bank is, can be, and risks, shall we?
At bottom, the guild bank is a matter of trust. Basically, members of the guild send stuff (money or goods) to the bank, and hope that the use of this stuff will be done in a manner that benefits the guild as a whole. It is a slow-motion version of the Loot issues, with extra-special burdens. hmmm, I’m getting ahead of myself.
A guild bank is a player – usually an alt – with whom members of the guild exchange mats, goods, and money. The theory is that by compiling these, individual members will be able to have advanced gear earlier, and their possession of this gear will allow them to be significantly more effective in instances and battles which in turn makes more “good stuff” drop faster — and the cycle feeds back on itself in a positive fashion.
The first hurdle to overcome is selection of the banker. Until Blizzard implements Guild Banks (originally discussed for 2.2, it’s now on the plans for 2.3) the person must be absolutely trusted by at least the guild leadership if not the guild. Consider that ONLY this person knows what is in the bank, that ONLY this person can withdraw, that only two people (of whom this person is one) know what was sent for deposit (and in a disagreement, only the banker can see what’s there)… If the player disappears, the guild loses access. If the player decides he’s tired of the guild, the guild loses access – unless he forwards the bank’s contents to someone else. If the player decides he absolutely HAS TO HAVE ‘those’ contents of the bank, there is nothing anyone can do about it – in fact, they can’t KNOW it’s happened. It is this that causes most guilds to see the banker be the guildmaster’s alt – if you trust the GM for loot, trust for bank is rather obvious.
I’ll point out that there are addons that will allow the contents of the bank to be posted. This helps immensely in the discussion of contents of the bank. It is not, however, a “perfect” solution.
Digression – as noted 2.3 is (as of this time) going to allow a guild bank. The guild master will be able to set permissions on adding, viewing, and withdrawing from various tabs based on criteria – at this time the only one I’ve heard is rank, but there may be more. I will recommend at this time that if this is true, guilds allow all guild members to view both contents and logs (deposits and withdrawals) regardless of withdrawal and deposit permissions. Yes, it creates the opportunity for “why him and not me” (guild drama), but it beats the heck out of RUMORS of “him and not us”. End of this particular digression…
The second major burden is the decision of what is deposited and withdrawn – who, how much, why, all that sort of thing.
If left vague, you will inevitably encounter someone wanting to deposit hundreds of low-level mats, and then wanting to exchange those for rare drops or mats. On the other hand, explicit rules of balance inevitably require exceptions and corrections. If not “I didn’t think of that” there will always be the changes due to the next patch. My two cents is that detailing at least the withdrawal rules (for example: GM decides, every week, based on requests and needs of the guild), and preferably the deposit rules (only these mats OR xx money per week OR…, you get the idea), and then having to discuss and grant exceptions will cause less difficulty in the guild over the long term than vague verbal guidance.
I’ll state my preferences, but want to caveat by noting two critical points. First – if it’s not fun, don’t do it. Of course if you’re running a guild you’re more likely to find this fun (or at least necessary so as to maximize your guild fun), but the rule still applies. Second, the following can’t be construed as advice but only as my personal recommendations.
1) Deposits: Accept only Gold, mats that are hard to get OR of which lots and lots are needed for the items you’re expecting to have crafted for the guild, and items that can be specifically targeted – as in, “This will go to a TANK.” Note that this may require a bit of research on the part of the banker – how many times are you going to allow drawing for spellthread for your healers, anyway?
2) Mandatory Deposits: Yes. Now this can be in several flavors: a tax, certain drops (for example, on guild runs all BOP not needed is sharded and goes to the ban), a regular fee (that can possibly be met by mats or designated crafted items), all varied by rank - the variations are plentiful. But require everyone to deposit some. In the long run this will significantly reduce the guild drama about ‘guild leeches’.
3) Withdrawals: clear rules on “why”, at least, even if it’s “for the benefit of the guild”. Preferably, also rules on limits and requirements for deposit and withdrawal. Anyone wanting (for example) 200 silk to grind tailoring had better be pretty clear why and how it’s going to benefit the guild – though it still requires the guild leader/banker to say yes or no.
4) Withdrawals: Make them Public. That is, if tailoringfool gets his 200 silk, the withdrawal is posted somewhere public so everyone knows he got it. It will not stop the drama over ‘favoritism’. It will, however, do two useful things. First, it reduces favoritism through public embarrassment. Second, it reduces “rumors” which often exaggerate the situation. Adding the “why” that was approved is icing on the cake.
5) Withdrawals: make it a guild officer decision instead of a unilateral Guild Leader decision. Once more, this reduces the basis for allegations of favoritism.
6) Public (or rather guild-wide) awareness of bank contents. There are a lot of addons that will publish the guild bank’s contents, all with various bells and whistles and weaknesses. I won’t recommend any of them at this time as almost all accomplish the base requirement. There are actually two reasons for this. First, it helps the issue of accountability. Second, it reduces one of the major downers for the guild banker – “Do we have any XXX in the bank?”
The guild bank isn’t a guild requirement, but it’s a common feature. If you’ll give it more than a nod of recognition, you can make it a better tool for the guild while reducing the pain the banker experiences.