grants for liberals?
September 1, 2006 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I have some ideas about creating a sort of web site or "netroots" organization around promoting progressive, liberal, and anti-authoritarian ideas, as opposed to a lot of what I see online which mostly concerns itself with the short term goal of getting democrats elected -- not that that's not important, but I don't see much focus on long term strategy and ideas. Anyway I'm wondering if there are any grants I can apply for to help get started.

I have a good idea how I might want to proceed. Basically a blog or community site to start, and eventually creating sort of a transparent system for promoting and refining ideas democratically, and funding politicians who subscribe to them, and it would all be facilitated by some cool social networking software.

Anyway, it seems like there might be some groups interested in helping to create this sort of thing, and I was wondering if anyone knew of any places I might be able to apply for grants to help get started and initially promote the site.
posted by delmoi to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Why do you need a grant to get started?

It's a website. $7 a month plus $10 for the domain.

If you can't find people willing to help you build it for free then really you have no business even thinking about 'netroots'.
posted by unSane at 8:01 AM on September 1, 2006

Yeah yeah yeah. I'm aware of the low cost of running a website, but everything is easier with money.
posted by delmoi at 8:16 AM on September 1, 2006

The obvious question which any potential donor would ask is "What are you going to use the money for?".

I think you need to think of a good (honest) answer to that before proceeding further.
posted by matthewr at 8:23 AM on September 1, 2006

Well right. I have some idea of how I want to move forward on this, basically money would be used to try to market the site and find people interested in joining, either as bloggers, commenters, donors or whatever. It could be as simple as taking out blog ads or something. As more users joined it would hopefully be able to grow and prosper.

I have some experience building community sites, and you need to have a certain number of people get involved quickly in order to reach 'critical mass' and become self-sustaining.

The other thing to consider is that different organizations would probably have their own ideas about what they give money for and how, and if someone were interested in funding the idea, their input would probably effect how it was done and how the money was spent.

Anyway, the purpose of the question isn't theoretical, I'm asking about specific organizations that give money for liberal progressive causes.
posted by delmoi at 8:50 AM on September 1, 2006

George Soros has some money to throw around...
posted by lovejones at 9:58 AM on September 1, 2006

I've looked into this for a similar general-purpose progressive organizing idea(I wanted to set up a site to help local liberal/progressive groups get on the web cheaply, learn to use it to organize, share knowledge and experience in these areas, etc), and haven't had much luck. Current funding models are very results-oriented. What I'm interested in is long-game stuff that addresses the Bowling Alone / civic participation sorts of issues, but may not directly result in tangible electoral gains, now or ever.

However even if it doesn't, I think tackling these things will make us a vastly better social and democratic society, but how do you quantify that? Most foundations work like businesses, and they want something tangible and measurable and mostly immediate for their money. I think those values are way out of whack because they don't allow us to tackle long term, open-ended issues, but since most of the money comes from business-minded people, they're going to have this business-minded approach. And it does make sense on some levels, what with having very limited resources compared to the problems we have to deal with and all. You want to make sure that money isn't just getting thrown away on feel-good projects that do nothing tangible. But still, it's a shame, because we've got short-term, very capitalistic systems of value dictating how we distribute resources for what should be long-term, social/democratic projects.

Admittedly I haven't looked incredibly deeply for money yet, but that is the sense I got from my early investigations, and then it became a matter of "do I spend my limited time looking for money, or working on the site?" And I chose the latter, but the limited time aspect eventually did me in anyway, and now I've kinda got the whole idea on the back burner, waiting for a time when I've got more resources to devote to it. Which is why I wanted money to do it full time to begin with. Quite a catch, that Catch-22.
posted by jdunn_entropy at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2006

good lord, just DO it.

kids these days
posted by unSane at 12:20 PM on September 1, 2006

Well, there are big differences between "just doing it" and actually doing it well and building something worthwhile or useful. And when you have a day job and other commitments and several web projects, plus a personal life and other interests, well, that becomes a bit more difficult. I care about this stuff quite a bit, and I'm willing to put quite a bit into it, but I'm not going to put shoddy or halfassed crap out there with my name on it and my time/money invested in it just for the sake of doing it. In my case, I figured out that I can't do what I wanted to do well with the amount of time and energy I currently have to devote to it, at least without outside support of some kind to help free up more resources. And so I'm doing other things instead, for now anyway.
posted by jdunn_entropy at 1:09 PM on September 1, 2006

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