If this is the first time you are experimenting with collaborative funding, take some time to reflect on the culture of your group or organization.
Though organizational culture is always dynamic and re-interpreted by being lived, it can also be intentionally shaped. Before starting a collaborative funding process, it's important to bring awareness to your current group culture and think about how this practice can meaningfully be integrated with it.
There are two important reasons for this:
Decisions around money and resources can bring forward strong emotions and surface tensions. The more tuned in to where your group is at, the better you will be able to integrate this practice.
To get a high amount of good proposals is an indicator of the health of your group culture. A strong shared culture can be an key lubricant to a successful proposals process.
Create spaces for interaction. People find meaning in social interaction and it keeps them engaged. If there are strong ties between people and a consistent rhythm for people to meet and exchange ideas, have discussions and connect, you have the basic cadence for your culture to be built on. There are a vast number of online tools that can facilitate this, such as Slack, Loomio, Discord, Kialo, Discourse and Telegram.
Encourage divergent thinking. Differing opinions and robust debate is a natural part of collaboration and it can be transformative. The group needs to create implicit and even explicit norms for how divergent conversation, debate or disagreements will take place. There also needs to be a social contract about what kind of communication is welcome and where the line is. Having a named role (i.e. a moderator or community builder) ensures someone is thinking about “the (or a) line” and when it is crossed.
Moderate for quieter voices. Asynchronous, online spaces where lots of debate ensues are fun for some and intimidating for others. If you’re going to create infrastructure useable by many you need to make space for voices and perspectives than are not typically made welcome in a-synch, online spaces. This can be done by creating a separate channel for spirited debate.
Now that you have given thought to your group culture, it’s time to get started! Over the next pages, we sketch out 5 basic steps that you can follow (and adapt!) to run your first funding round.