I completely agree with you that membership fee’s must be used to continually improve the space and provide new opportunities to grow the space it’s membership and customer base. However, we must be careful not to rush into decisions based on the fact that “well the money is there”. There are many reasons for this, first and foremost we are able to purchase the better quality kit through grant funding as we can apply for far more money than we would ever reasonably raise as a membership community when other expenses are paid out.
We have utilized these previous funding streams prior to the current position of Hack Oldham, for example, the tools in the workshop were purchased, as far as I know, using grant funding from a company as part of a grant scheme. Therefore certainly some of the workshop equipment was not purchased using money raised through membership fees. Equally the ANET A8 3d printer was a successful crowdfunding attempt within the membership of Hack Oldham, yes it did take longer than just using membership money however it allowed that money to be utilized elsewhere.
There is also another reason for not spending membership money immediately on equipment and that is to ensure the bank balance is kept at a point where any unknown costs such as a broken piece of equipment, new furniture or light bulbs etc can be purchased. I know some of these are small costs but I hope the membership understand that we must refrain from spending membership fee’s if other funding streams are available.