Sustainability, governance and partnerships of Decidim
Participatory process to define Decidim's management model and sustainability strategy
A participatory process is a sequence of participatory activities (e.g. first filling out a survey, then making proposals, discussing them in face-to-face or virtual meetings, and finally prioritizing them) with the aim of defining and making a decision on a specific topic.
Examples of participatory processes are: a process of electing committee members (where candidatures are first presented, then debated and finally a candidacy is chosen), participatory budgets (where proposals are made, valued economically and voted on with the money available), a strategic planning process, the collaborative drafting of a regulation or norm, the design of an urban space or the production of a public policy plan.
About this process
This process belongs to Participate
The objective of the process is to open the discussion on the sustainability and management model of the Decidim project, in order to end up approving an agreement in the General Assembly that gives tools, objectives and rules to the Association to be able to work in this direction.
Decidim has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 4 years, which has meant both an increase in the number of platforms at the international level and the amount of work needed to keep the project alive and evolving. This has resulted in the Association having more code contributions to oversee, more work to energise the community, more coordination meetings with companies, governments and organisations, and, in general, a greater volume of work to ensure that the project works in an open and collaborative way.
Another element to highlight is the consolidation of an ecosystem of companies that have made Decidim their business model. In this way, the project has generated an economy around it, creating wealth and jobs in different parts of the world.
The commons tragedy
While more and more people are using digital commons like Decidim, the sustainability of the project depends to a large extent on the public funding model. To date, this is the source of income that supports the hiring of a small team of professionals who, with great effort and commitment, have supported a large volume of work. Currently, the Decidim Association's Technical Office is made up of two people: a senior developer and a person dedicated to management and administration tasks. Indirectly, there are other people who have been able to dedicate hours of work to the project thanks to alliances with the Barcelona City Council and Localret, who take on the hiring of these people.
For its part, the regulations concerning the Coordination Committee state that its members must be volunteers, who are not remunerated for carrying out the functions of their posts, and are responsible for ensuring the democratic quality of the project. However, the conditions and needs of the project have led the Coordination Committee to take on management, administration and coordination tasks. This has led to a heavy workload, which has been sustained mostly on a voluntary basis, overburdening members of the team.
This problem, diagnosed by the people of the previous Coordination Committee, has led the new Committee to analyse the situation in detail. As a result, three main, interconnected challenges have been set:
- To define a medium and long-term sustainability strategy for the project.
- To define a management and governance model that allows the Association to work efficiently and with all labour and democratic guarantees.
- To define a policy of outreach and alliances that allows us to incorporate and collaborate with diverse actors at multiple scales.
The approval of the partnership policy was a first step in addressing the first of these points. It has allowed us to open up a channel for financing the Association based on the level of invoicing of the companies. Even so, we must continue to work to diversify our sources of income and become less dependent on public fundings.
Objectives of the process
This participatory process, which we open to the whole community, aims to address issues related to sustainability, project management and community. Specifically, the main issues we want to bring up for discussion are:
- Economic sustainability
- Management and roles of the Technical Office
- Technological governance
- Partnership - Partners Relationship
- Internationalisation of the community
The final objective of the process is to approve an agreement in the General Assembly, this agreement will have two sections:
- Strategic agreement: On the objectives and direction to be followed to ensure the sustainability of the project.
- Normative agreement: On the rules necessary to determine the functioning of new mechanisms.