Friday, April 25, 2014

Funding digital civil society

Since September of last year I've had the honor of being a Visiting Scholar at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. One of the things I've been doing there is working closely with staff from across the Foundation as they make sense of the emerging landscape of digital civil society. We're working on several public projects that I'll be thrilled to share here and elsewhere when they're ready.

In the meantime, let me share a little of what we're doing and invite you to send resources, join us in thinking about these issues, and helping us plan.

1. What do funders need to think about when funding digital data projects? This is a question we'd been thinking about when I had the opportunity to join Paul Tarini of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on a webinar about digital data and philanthropy. Paul and his colleagues had reached out to experts at the Center for Democracy and Technology and assembled a list of questions funders should ask. They graciously gave me permission to share the list at Packard and post it here. Thanks!  You can find the webinar video and the slides that include these questions here.

2. Remember NOLO Press guides for nonprofits? They offer easy to use templates for setting up a nonprofit corporation, including templates for the articles of incorporation, bylaws and other policies. Well, nowadays, the list of policies every civil society organization needs goes further than that - and includes many things, like data policies, terms of service, privacy policies, and IP asset transfer agreements that are hard to wrap your head around. We're working on "Good Data Governance" toolkit/templates that will draw from some of the great work that organizations have already done to draft these policies and make several models available to everyone for their consideration/use/improvement. After all, not everyone wants to spend time developing these (hah!)

3. What are all the ways civil society organizations are using digital data? These are countless. Which won't stop me from trying to count them. With my colleagues at the Packard Foundation we've been tracking ideas and examples on this wiki - please add yours. Here's a snapshot typology I developed for a presentation in Brazil - feel free to improve on this as well. We'll do our best to get some kind of typology out there - your insights are more than welcome.

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