Sustainability, governance and partnerships of Decidim
Participatory process to define Decidim's management model and sustainability strategy
Currently, the Decidim Association is highly dependent on public funding. Specifically, it receives two subsidies from Barcelona City Council (100k) and the Generalitat de Catalunya (50k). This income allows it to support the Technical Office and pay for other minor expenses. In addition, there is a contract from Barcelona City Council through which Decidim's maintainers are hired.
However, depending so much on public funding and so few institutions is a risk. As we have already seen, we can lose that money for bureaucratic reasons - as happened to us with the 50k from Barcelona City Council last year - or because of changes in governments, which could lead to the withdrawal of institutional support. This is why it is imperative to work to diversify the Association's sources of funding, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
This debate seeks to discuss what strategies to follow in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.
Questions for the debate
- How can the Association obtain resources from all the economic activity generated around Decidim?
- How can we expand the number and type of actors that can support the project, beyond Catalan institutions? In particular, would it be possible for public institutions, NGOs, etc. that are users of the Decidim SW to support the project?
- What kind of services can the Association offer?
- What other sustainability strategies should we explore?
*It is necessary to take into account those aspects that are already defined in the Statutes of the Association:
Article 4.3. Defines services as an activity of the Association.
Article 20. The management of public and private subsidies corresponds to the coordination committee.
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For Decidim's sustainability, we have to design a strategic plan and an action plan for at least three years, establishing the goals and results to be achieved within said period. This planning must be respectful of the mission and vision of the project, because in that is a competitive differentiation of Decidim.
This plan will identify the needs of the team and design a budget that contemplates the human resources and the operating expenses necessary annually for the sustainability of the project. It is difficult for Decidim, in this stage of global expansion, to be able to sustain with a small team, which in turn must combine dedication with other projects that justify its hiring and a partial dedication (Ej canodrom case, decidim.barcelona, etc).
Within the expected results of the planning, different areas should be considered that up to now are not in progress; coordination team (political), communication and press team, product development team, team responsible for community, internationalization and project management team. If expected results are established for each of these areas, activities and responsable can be defined, being able to objectively observe the current capacity of the management team (technical office/team) in relation to the goals necessary to achieve.
So, the sustainability of the project is not determined only by generating the necessary income but by the execution of the activities that allow us to guarantee the impact of the project. For example, if we focus on the product or internal communications, it is difficult to achieve the necessary impact to promote new alliances that allow greater economic fluidity.
To move in the direction of mobilizing economics inputs:
As Carol and Xabi said, it is necessary to reinforce the partner policy and create new form of contribution for consulting agencies that offer Decidim training in the different regions. Not only limit the contribution to technological partners (eg, Asuntos del Sur , UNDP Paraguay etc).
Create more public-public alliance, building one bilateral cooperation agreement that allows the transfer of direct resources to the Decidim Association by local, subnational or federal governments. With these economic inputs, the Association will be able to provide consulting services in the design of digital and face-to-face participation processes, as well as communication strategies for citizen participation, planning of cities, or research and generation of democratic quality indicators. In my opinion, Decidim should not offer technological services for the sotenibilitie of the network of technological partners . This work will also the technological partners have more interest in being part of the network of contributing partners to the project.
Generate a team for innovative regional projects, which allows strengthening the technical capacities of the Decidim team (communication, programming, community, etc.) and generate new incorporations for specific projects. In this way, the scope and political impact of the project is increased by developing technological or democratic innovation projects/processes around the world (ej. Decidim Project for rural areas of Central America, etc)
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