Community Forum Services

Local Forums are what E-Democracy does best.

We support more than 75 neighbourhood/neighborhood, community/council-wide, or regional online Community Forums across 15 communities in three countries.

We are the largest full-service "network" of its kind with volunteers leading the way in every community to keep our model extremely low-cost, sustainable, and extendable to more places.

Through participant and supporter donations, service fees from local government (UK primarily government funded instead of participant donations), foundation grants, earned revenue from consulting services, and forum sponsorship or advertising (possible) we provide the following "shared services" across our network.

General Services

E-Democracy seeks to provide the following "first tier" services to communities in good standing - active volunteers, their participants or community is contributing toward the costs they generate (see below):

  1. Basic self-serve forum start-up resources and guides
  2. Forum manager/management support and training
  3. Discussion quality improvement advice and support
  4. Rules framework and due process support
  5. Volunteer role development and local committee support
  6. Forum visibility, credibility and outreach
  7. General participant recruitment support
  8. Support to liaison with local public officials and media
  9. Forum technology hosting
  10. Forum technology feature enhancements
  11. Participant technical support via support@e-democracy.org
  12. Legal protection and support for volunteers, contractors, etc. acting in good faith under our policies as allowed by our non-profit status
  13. E-democracy newsletter, blog, and marketing
  14. Volunteer coordination at global level to support shared local infrastructure
  15. Grant template for use by local committees to fund special activities/forum enhancement Governance and international Board support

Enhanced Services

Enhanced "tier two" services are available based on special funding and/or aggregated local contributions above an established threshold:

  1. Hands on forum start-up and training services
  2. Steering committee development, volunteer recruiting, participant recruiting, and/or professional "remote" forum facilitation over a specific time frame
  3. Special outreach to diverse/low income participants with dedicated funding sources
  4. Access to additional low cost online tools via shared hosting (blogs, etc. beyond main forum services)
  5. Coaching on hosting online candidate debates and special events
  6. Training on citizen media and online engagement/facilitation
  7. Local e-democracy evaluation (for the broader community including a review of local government e-democracy offerings) and promotional efforts
  8. Local online fund raising options for next generation local e-democracy activities dedicated to a specific community
  9. Non-profit 501(c)(3) umbrella provided to local U.S. committees for special funded project with local dedicated funds (e.g. a local community foundation or major support for a special project)
  10. Fiscal agency relationships with country partners outside U.S. or creation of national branches with sufficient demand

Costs Incurred

We initially estimated the cost to provide first tier services at 3 cents (US) a day per participant or $10/year per registered member (7 GBP, $20 NZ). When we grew to 40+ forums with ~250 members each, we passed the 10,000 registered participants threshold. At that point ongoing shared support for Community Forums began to cost $100,000 a year (70,000 GBP, $200,000 NZ). With 90% of the effort covered by volunteers, the professional services/hosting provided by E-Democracy will enable $1 million worth of community democracy building each year.