monopoly money

Proposal On OWS and Fundraising Using Our Tools

How should Tech Ops, folks, Action Resource Fund (ARF) and other interested parties think about using our collective resources and legitimacy for fundraising?

Below is a set of theses, arguments and proposals that might constitute a framework. The need for it comes from a year of trying to advance efforts to become self-sustaining as a movement, and meeting various obstacles. We actually have a wonderful infrastructure that enables fundraising (= covering the costs of your work with help from supporters who love you) but it’s not being utilized very well. An example is the repeated use of WePay and fiscal sponsorship from 501c3 nonprofits when not actually necessary.

Please do chime in with your comments and suggestions.

  1. Our online resources should be used for fundraising by as many occupy related entities as we can support.
  2. It is important that folks raising money for personal reasons, or primarily to benefit themselves without a comparable benefit for OWS, should not use our resources.
  3. We can divide fundraising projects into some useful categories. All of them are ‘legitimate’ as long as we are careful about representing them accurately:
    1. OWS or NYCGA wide efforts or entities that enjoy a high level of legitimacy. This includes May First, S17, and the remnants of the NYCGA money that we use for bail. ARF and Accounting.
    2. Well known, long standing, and relatively accountable structures like InterOcc, Tech Ops, Farms that have attempted to operate within the (fluid and hard to navigate) boundaries of OWS.
    3. Affinity groups, campaigns, and special project. Examples: student debt strike, Freedom School, Tidal, livestreaming groups.
  4. Fiscal sponsorship is OPTIONAL. In some cases it feels essential, to provide for a higher level of accountability for large sums of money. In other cases it is a wasteful expense, as in the case of a small sum for a specific project. Fiscal sponsorship should be an option for all and a requirement for none.
  5. We affirm that c3 status for fiscal sponsorship is relevant when you need to promise a tax deduction to the donor or to receive funds from an institutional donor. It is not ‘necessary’ beyond that, though it may be desired for the appearance of legitimacy..
  6. Groups wanting fiscal sponsorship via ARF should have a way of asking for it, with clear conditions on who is eligible. Any group or individual with fiscal sponsorship of their own can use that as well.
  7. Using Civi or Salsa, any group can provide data for the merchant account and donation gateway of their choosing. We discourage the use of services like WePay and PayPal. IF you are using WePay or PayPal, then processing will likely cost you more, and you don’t need Civi or Salsa to do it.
  8. Anyone using our Civi or Salsa for fundraising needs to supply a roadmap for how the funds will be collected, transferred, spent, and accounted for. This is a task we can and should help with, according to our capacity.
  9. The existence of one mechanism for raising funds will never be a reason to prevent, prohibit or discourage the use of another mechanism.
  10. Blocking power over using Tech Ops/ tools and resources does not exist. That said, many things simply cannot be done without expertise and access that is distributed among many people. In the case of serious concerns, blocking can take place if 50% +1 of Tool Managers support it.
  11. Tool Managers list is meant to comprise those using Civi and Salsa, working to update it, have access to the backend, and/or are key users. The only purpose of a Tools Managers list is to address blocks. Proposed initial list includes Drew, Ravi, Ingrid, Devin, Charles, Andrew, Dana, Patricia, Badger, Leah, Tom and Dan. (this post will be the first they heard of it….)


  1. Shawn Carrié

    Bravo, Tech Ops!

    I fully support this proposal as I feel it will encourage groups to really take on the initiative of fundraising and publicity for themselves, instead of the “let’s bother Accounting and clog up Assemblies with fighting until somebody just concedes and gives us money to go away” approach.

    This design will encourage groups to be more outward-facing and engaging with the public, especially using both new media and face to face outreach.


  2. Sean McKeown

    Interesting, this is overlapping with a discussion had last night about creating a more transparent and more distributed fund-sharing system at the GA.

    How can we all work together to build this more? Not all of us are in Tech, after all, and for good reason – I for one can’t code my way out of a wet paper bag. :)

    • Shawn Carrié

      It’s a very common misconception that one ought to have lots of technical skills in order to be helpful to Tech Ops.

      Completely false.

      I’ve been with Tech Ops since November, and I’m not a developer. I have no technical training whatsoever. There are plenty of ways to support the work of Tech Ops with the skills you already have, and proprietary knowledge can easily be learned – and people are there to teach you.

      It’s mostly about learning how to use a specific software on a website, which is just like learning your way around any interface. I imagine that this specific project would involve learning your way around, probably also Civi.

      Both things that Tech Ops has been doing trainings on, and can be picked up in a matter of a couple of days.

      All knowledge awaits you on the internets!!!

  3. Charles Lenchner

    Shawn is right on. Tech Ops, and more broadly the parts of our movement that intersect with online, can use more volunteers and they don’t need to be super techie. Mostly, just be digital friendly, savvy with learning how to use stuff.
    We’ve not been great at onboarding new people, but not for lack of trying.

    • Sean McKeown

      I for one have been lacking trying, only able to focus on so many things at once, and I tend to distract myself by picking up new projects helter-skelter. 😉

  4. DrRon Suarez

    I am experimenting with “goal oriented crowd funding” like Kickstarter does. (i.e. no one’s credit card gets charged until a total goal has been reached to sufficiently fund the execution of a project, e.g. paying for all the parts to build an antenna.) I have configured and I am operational to add projects. If you are working on a project and are interested, please contact me.. Here is a “test example” that has not yet been approved by Justin Wedes, but I have used his work as an example and we’re talking about how to collaborate. See this Fundraiser Testing Example. is an independent site, not officially endorsed by anyone, but seeking to help projects that wish to build a sustainable organization or business that embodies the “Occupy Philosophy” of ground up solutions.

    With OccupySolutions we:
    1) Work with you to crowd source an “Open Business Model” (like Open Source for sustainable project planning}
    2) Help you to crowd fund your projects
    3) Provide you with a community of people to collaborate together on projects

    For those who do not recognize me, I am user #1 here on, as I did the original installation and configuration of this web site, which was of course brought to fruition through the hard work of many others.