Civic Tech Lab: The Two Money Problems - 5 May 2021, 16:00 to 17:30 CEST [UTC+2]

Are you running a project within the civic tech field? Then you recognise “The Two Money Problems”, where the first problem is about getting started and the second is about sustaining and scaling your solution over time.

How can we deal with money, funding and finances in such a way that it supports the business model over time? How does it matter if we use venture capital, crowdfunding or public grants to power our organizations?

Where our funding comes from surely affects our goals and behavior, which we believe suggests that we both need to be aware how we are affected and make strategic choices, but also that we need to lose some respect for money issues. They are important so it’s important that we are not scared of them or outsource financial topics to a chosen few such as the CFO.

When

5 May 2021, 16:00 to 17:30 CEST [UTC+2]

Where

Digital, wherever you are, on Zoom (you get a Zoom-link after you register)

The lab is free to join and all you have to do is sign up. Sign up here: Civic Tech Lab: The Two Money Problems| Eventbrite

The entry point for this lab

There are two major money problems for projects within the civic tech field:

  1. The investment -problem: money to start off and build up.
  2. Sustainable operation. The long term operation -problem: money for covering daily operations.

During the lab we will explore actual real life solutions to these two problems. We will also explore how initiatives over time evolve strategies to solve the need for money. A civic tech lab is always practical so you will during the lab get to talk about the solutions together with us and try tools and methods that can help you in your work.

Who can participate?

You can participate from wherever you are in the world. The lab will be in English and is aimed to all who run civic tech projects, or planning to do so. We encourage participation from at least two people from the same organisation or project in the lab, so that you can work together on exercises and better support your organisation to absorb and apply what you learn.

Special guest

Agaric Coop. Agaric is a worker-owned cooperative specializing in building tools and websites that respect your freedom. Agaric also provide training and consultation to meet your goals. Everything they do is part of the purpose to help all people gain the most power possible over their own lives.

We plan to bring in cases with more and other experiences, highlighting different strategies to raise money for both investment and daily operations depending on the topics and questions raised here in the forum/thread.

What is a worker-owned cooperative?

In a worker cooperative each employee is also an owner and takes part in making decisions democratically, fostering a culture of honesty and accountability. You will have a shared part in profit and value created.

Facilitators

The lab will be facilitated by me, Sven Bartilsson, and Jonas Bergvall from Coompanion in Sweden. Coompanion is a Swedish supporting company (a cooperative) for cooperatives and social entrepreneurship. You can find us at 25 locations all over Sweden where we offer business consultancy and development services, financed in part by Tillväxtverket (the Swedish Agency for Economical and Regional Growth).

As our helpers we have Pernilla Näsfors Östmar and Mattias Jägerskog from Civic Tech Sweden. Civic Tech Sweden is the growing community in Sweden for people working with technology for the common good and digital tools for community + democracy + transparency.

The conversation starts now

During the weeks leading up to the lab we will post economic models and food for thought in the forum thread below. You can ask both me and @ jonas questions here in the thread. To start with, we also have a question for you: How have you lost respect for money issues? We love to hear your stories!

Don’t forget to sign up for the lab here.

More questions?

Write your question below or send us an e-mail!

Sven Bartilsson - @SvenB
sven.bartilsson@coompanion.se

Jonas Bergvall - @Jonas
jonas.bergvall@coompanion.se

5 Likes

I believe civic tech projects can have an advantage of the some times slow development and sparse amount of time which is directly spent working on it during e.g. free time. Why? It allows for quite a lot of contemplation and consideration for the project to grow more organically. The long development time can also lead to finding people who are willing to exchange money for the value that the project is providing for them and their life and cause.

I’ve have been sparsely engaged on and off for several years with the project Handlingar.se, which I started as a pilot under another name some years ago. Now during the pandemic is actually when I spend the most time on it. I can for the first time concretely see the monetary value of the project which can be harvested. I can also see from our international friends that it can lead to quite important value for quite a lot of people.

It feels really good doing this, while still keeping true to it’s purpose of reinvigorating the necessity of facts and belief in knowledge having value to one’s agenda, movement and cause. I have not lost respect for money issues but I have focused on doing what have felt right before inviting in for the exchange of money. I would have invited in for monetary exchange earlier but all things considered: now is the right time to do it.

1 Like

jonas_modell (kopia)

At the lab on May 5th we are going to talk about “the force of money”. What we will suggest is that it matters where you get your money from. Departing from four possible stakeholders – Community, Founders, Customers (Business) and Public Grants (Needs), we will argue that these stakeholders come with different sets of expectations and which will influence your business or solution. Is it possible to serve several lords or do you choose only one? What do you think?

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That is interesting thougths. In general most project would gain from more time on reflection and understanding of the problem before spending money. Money spent is a burden to carry in to the future.

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We will have three special guests and contributors at the Lab on May 5th. They will share with us their experience´s on the “money problem”. And how they have and maybe also how they in future want to navigate in the landscape or map of the four types of stakeholders. One of our special guest is well known among the swedish Civic Tech community, Smarta Kartan Last week we had a talk with @SmartaKartanJonathan to prepare the Lab. The experience from Starta Kartan as an association and activist having a partnership with the municipality and how they now developing their strategies to have money for daily operations and future development when initial conditions for fundings are changed is an excellent starting point for learning and discussions.

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INTRODUCTION - Meet Greg Wendt on May 5th. Greg Wendt is a California native who has dedicated his gifts to regenerative economic development, finance, portfolio management, economic strategy, business innovation, and responsible investing. Greg’s focus is incorporating biomimicry to evolve impact investing and economic development toward resilient economic evolution. In his daily work you will find him advising a range of investors, families of wealth, think tanks and institutions, while maintaning his passion for personal development and human evolution into every moment with every relationship. https://www.gregwendt.com/

It seems to me that, at least some, civic tech initiatives, find it easier to get small fundings such as grants at early stage development, but then meet difficulties. But I have not understood yet if the stakeholders with the needs are not willing to pay for the service or if it is a difficulty to attract money/capital for further development to get a viable product, or if it is a combination. What is your experience?

@SvenB Yes, I agree. I believe it is connected to the issue around attitude to money vs time invested. Everyone needs food to fuel them and most people in civic tech need to pay for that energy intake by selling their time and energy in some way. At some point of development, the time needed for the civic tech project increased and clashes with constant time needed for selling time to get money and new energy.

Many open source / civic tech developers are not in it for the money but are unable, unwilling or simply do not have enough hours to communicate the value they (can) create to gain long term income to pay for their food. I remember a workshop where civic tech projects were said to start in “the wrong end” of development. That civic tech starts building a solution before identifying the deeper challenge, anchoring with users or getting authorities on board (which gets closer to “GovTech”) and that causes the project to end up in a sort of limbo - difficult to take further.

I do not know where and to whom you directed your question but this is based on my experience with time for civic tech projects clashing with necessary time to spend on generating income.

I would like to see a Civic Tech Lab called “The Many Money Solutions” where there could be a focus on how to leverage stakeholder hopes and expectations. This would be interesting as well as opening up for multiple sorts of capital and how to do that. It could be a lab educating and supporting on a strategic level but also tactical and practical level e.g. platforms to use. I’ve talked a bit with @pernillan and @mattiasjay regarding such an event.