Money for Nothing, Chicks for Free? The notorious non-funding of community organising

Kersti Ruth Wissenbach, Nils Brock, Victoria Wenzelmann

Growing and nurturing communities requires time and effort, yet funding remains scarce. Digital transformation opens up new opportunities for communities to organise and amplify their voices, but donors are slow to support process oriented funding for this critical type of care work - as usual, mostly done by women. Let's get to the bottom of it!

Civil society organising has always played a critical role in socio-political change environments. Digital transformation offers great opportunities for activist groups, innovators, and maker networks to organise across localities, share knowledge, code, and amplify each other’s voices in conversations with governments and corporations alike. But one bitter reality remains, funding explicitly dedicated to the shaping and maintaining of a community remains scarce, to say the least.

The Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) is a community dedicated to fostering innovation, collaboration, and learning. It brings together individuals, hubs, and collectives from all over the world, working towards the common goal to create an interactional community, where members collaborate, share knowledge, and support each other in their pursuits - intentionally different from transactional (business) networks, which are focused on exchanging goods or services for money or other benefits.

As communities grow, the need for resources to support their continued development becomes increasingly important. Much of the work of such communities is donor-funded, but this can be problematic, as donor funding is usually project-based and unpredictable, making it difficult for communities to effectively respond to emerging challenges and opportunities. Community organising is arguably even more necessary precisely in the gaps of time between funding cycles.

Most of the work of community organising is done by women, as is most care work. This reality highlights deeply ingrained gender inequalities in our society: care work and community organising are often undervalued and underfunded.

That's why we want to gather with members from different collectives and communities and donors at re:publica 2023 and channel experiences and learnings about how to achieve sustainable community funding models. By sharing our stories and exploring potential solutions, we will support the continued growth and success of communities such as GIG, facing similar challenges.

Join us for an open and constructive conversation about financing and sustaining the work of community organising from a critical feminist perspective. Let's work together to address gender inequalities and find ways to support the communities that are changing the world for the better.