My reply to Vijay's last letter.
I'm glad you like the idea of the website as our "reception area", and the fact that it will link through to the "back offices". I can understand your confusion about Dadamac. I believe that as the reception area begins to link up better with the "back offices" things will become clearer. Meanwhile your questions will help me to know what I should try to collect from the "back offices" for people to see when they first "arrive here".
Your questions and observations are all very useful. Thanks too for mentioning that you got the "Oops page". This is helpful feedback, I will let our tech people know.
I am not sure if I can easiy answer your questions quite in the way that you have formulated them, but I will try to respond to them. I see you are trying to make sense of Dadamac's involvement in development. You are looking at the four "areas" (Dadamac Limited, Foundation, Learners and Open Knowledge).You are also raising sensible issues regarding finance and sustainablility.
I think you may sometimes find it easier to think first about the Dadamac community (the people), then the four areas that relate to "how we do what we do" may make more sense.
By the way, I have written something recently about Fantsuam Foundation (FF) and Dadamac's relationship to FF which you might find helpful.
As a great over simplification it may help to say that Dadamac "does information and facilitation" regarding development, and our partner organisation FF "does development". FF's main fundraising is FF's responsibility. (But Dadamac Foundation does like to help with some of FFs "fringe" activities when it can)
The Dadamac community is knowledgable about development. and is innovative in its use of ICT in the context of development. Dadamac Limited is a mechanism that enables people outside of the Dadamac community to hire us, and make use of our knowledge and networks. Dadamac Limited does not need to raise the money for development projects. We add value by helping people to implement projects effectively.
If that explanation makes sense then I do not need to explain further. If it does not make sense, then please ask me some more questions. It is this questioning and answering that wiil knock Dadamac's reception area into shape.
By the way, if you find that pages already on the website are not as helpful to you as you would like, please let me know. Some were written in a hurry, and anyhow, things develop, so there are various things that will need changing.
Some people in the Dadamac community are trying to implement specific projects, and need more resources to do so. If they send information through the Dadamac website (think of it as posting up notices in the reception area) then other people in the Dadamac community will try to help them. The way that we recently helped Zittnet with its farmer's project is an example. They needed help and the Dadamac community rallied round and gave help
We didn't actually give them money, but the help we gave through our network enabled them to win money.
We want to be able to give financial help sometimes too, and that is why we have Dadamac Foundation, so that we have a mechanism for raising and giving money. We don't have any active fundraisers connected with Dadamac Foundation at the moment, but we hope that as people get to know some of the interesting stories connected with the Dadamac Community they will want to help in some way.
Maybe some of the people who voted for the farmers project will decide to make a donation, or maybe someone will do a sponsored event. It happened once when I was asked to visit a school to help add some reality to some studies they were doing about Africa - one of the teachers was planning to run in the London marathon, and so she decided some of her sponsor money would go towards our projects. Another time, when I was working in a primary school, it was customary for the children in the top class to do a fundraising event, and they decided to give half of the money for a library project we were supporting in Ago-Are. Another time a friend who was retiring asked everyone at his retirement party to donate to John's projects at Fantsuam Foundation instead of buying a leaving present. Our first sponsored event was when one of our volunteers did a sponsored swim.
I believe that in future many development projects will be supported through crowd sourcing, because this person-to-person approach is what the Internet is good at - such as with ebay, and Facebook. Akvo's water and sanitation projects are funded through crowd sourcing. I believe we can help our friends with their development projects by making connections with people like Mark Charmer of Akvo on their behalf. We can also gradually build our own crowd sourcing strategies. I think Mark said something about open source, relating to the software Akvo is developing for its crowd sourcing. I will need to go back and check that with him later.
Philanthropy is changing. Even on a big level of giving, people like to make a personal link and know what is being achieved through their gifts (Tactical Philanthropy illustrates this trend). I believe that one of the most useful things we can do for our friends who have projects on the ground is to help them to communicate effectively.
Our Cameras For Communication (C4C) course development is part of our strategy to help close the communication gap between projects on the ground and people who might support projects on the ground. I hope you will soon start to see the results of the first FF C4C course coming in through the website.
I still haven't exactly answered your questions, but I hope I have gone some way towards it. You are right to pinpoint "taking things to the next level". The website has an important role to play in that, and your suggestion of a road map is a good one.
Perhaps creating and sharing that road map is one of the tasks we should be addressing together.
I look forward to your thoughts.