E-Democracy.Org adopts budget, Sets fund raising and expansion goals

Transparency Alert – Read on for the inside scoop on what’s next with E-Democracy.Org.

The E-Democracy.Org Board is very very busy.

First we adopted our new strategic plan and now we have a new one year budget. Thus begins the exciting transition from an all-volunteer organization to one that is proudly volunteer-based with a small core of staff/contractors. These 24×7 leaders will provide “shared support” our growing global network of local e-democracy initiatives and Issues Forums.

We are on a roll. Over the last few years, including previous UK expansion funding, the recently announced project grants in Minnesota, development funding in New Zealand, and the value of the Ashoka Fellowship for Steven Clift (2 of 3 funded years left) and OnlineGroups.Net in-kind support, over $300,000 US has been or will be invested in our democratic mission. Now is the time for us to figure out together how we scale our low cost model sustainably.

To support our network and execute our projects through the end of June 2008, we’ve adopted a one-year budget of $142,000 US. Outside of project expenses (50K), the largest proposed cost areas to support our three nation local Issues Forum network are human resources (40K), technology (10K), travel (10K), and office and supplies (8K).

Our Board has determined that Tim Erickson’s fundamental role must shift from that of a volunteer and occasional contractor to something paid on an ongoing basis. Tim provides an amazing level of service to our current 10 community network. To carry our mission forward and spread shared costs further, our network is slated to expand to 20 communities as well as quadruple our registered participants to over 10,000. That’s real work. Ever so committed, Tim has agreed to help make this transition work and will coordinate our new grant funded projects. Now is the time to generate donations we can use to fund our top priorities and shared support.

The proposed budget gap we must close

We believe to build and sustain the independence of our local Issues Forums, the core costs for our shared support for local Issues Forums must be spread widely. While foundation grants will support new projects and special expansion efforts, this is not a reliable source of ongoing funding. To build up our shared services and invest in technology for the benefit of all the local e-democracy efforts in our network, we’ve adopted a one year fund raising goal of $45,000 US in major donations (from individuals, organizations, etc. over $500) and $30,000 US in voluntary contributions from participants and supporters.

Here we go! This is an exciting time for us. We’ve never sought contributions on this scale, but now the time has come. We are focused on major donors first. Then we will tap our supporters and participants (starting with our most established forums this year) for voluntary support. Making a persuasive case for donations for something that has seemed free for a decade (but in reality was subsidized by volunteers make significant time sacrifices) is essential. Tell us what you think is most compelling about what we do: team@e-democracy.org

Are local forums on the hook?

If you are active in one of our local forums, you might be asking, “How does this affect me?” The Board is assuming the risk and work related to fund raising for at least the next year. We want our volunteers to focus on building their local forums. In fact, we will encourage donors to dedicate a portion of their donations specific local efforts (20 percent this year) as well.

Over the long-run, we know that there must be an equitable range related to the amounts raised and costs spread among various communities, but that the source of that funding may vary. Some communities are wealthier than others and the culture of making donations varies from country to country. In our survey, participants in the UK stated a strong preference for local government funding, so we will work with our local forum leaders to add that to mix. First we will get some donation experience and then in consultation with our local leaders explore this issue. So for now, current year donations are simply supporting the whole network and we will be doing most of the fund raising work from E-Democracy.Org’s “home office.”

Steven Clift
Board Chair, E-Democracy.Org

P.S. If you’ve read this far, you are probably interested enough to join our Democracy Circle of supporters making a pledge. We will use this list of supporters to make our case to potential major donors. Still reading? Do you know someone with resource who you think would really like our efforts, fill out this major donor prospect suggestion form.

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