Since 2008, Bloom Network has been researching finance mechanisms that could be used to better achieve cross-sector finance, so that grassroots, nonprofit, for-profit and government organizations can collaborate on wicked problems such as climate change. There is a need for better incentive alignment and more grassroots leadership in how large amounts of funding are allocated. Our finance team has been researching multi-stakeholder collaborations, blended finance, cooperatives and blockchain technologies for how to best support cross-sector collaboration in Bloom Network. The Bloom wiki article on Cross-Sector Finance summarizes this research to date.
These practices have potential to resolve the limitations of sector-specific financial approaches in terms of power inequalities and more efficient collaboration, and to route revenue to grassroots climate change-related groups to support decentralized economic and bioregional wellness.
Cooperative incubators allow an entity, such as a community center, an ecovillage, or a digital community, to invest in a company in exchange for shares. For each of these companies, the cooperative will be a shareholder, receiving a percentage of equity in the companies it designs/incubates. (As an example, the incubator Y-Combinator receives 5% equity in the companies that go through it).
Profits from each company then circulate back into the membership of the cooperative as a whole, for participatory budgeting and furthering the coop’s purpose, and/or issuing member dividends to continue incentivizing participation and ownership in the coop. Bloom Network is mid-way through completing a financial spreadsheet template for tracking equity in a cooperative incubator.
The psychedelic investment platform, Fraqtal, is iterating this method through dialogue with Bloom.
Fraqtal cooperative sketch
Here’s an illustration of various entities pooling capital to execute a specific project.
We’d like to flesh out the legal model for this approach, for example, are nonprofits allowed to receive profit from community investment, if the money is used for the nonprofit’s purpose. How can these different entities do due diligence to know how much they can trust each other to follow through with their commitment?
Tech Tools for Finance Pools:
- SuperFluid finance (programmable cash flows)
- CommonsStack pools for public commons goods and programmable continuous funding. Donors can select a cause to contribute to, and the community of projects working in that area vote on which initiatives receive that capital.
- Multi-stakeholder DAOs
Apart from pooled funds managed by a set of stakeholders, the following specific finance methods can be more widely deployed to support regenerative movements: blended finance, multistakeholder cooperatives, bonds, stable currencies on the blockchain, continuous organizations, and more. These will be published to an open-source directory on Bloom Network’s website, and the finance team will develop relationships with professionals who are available to advise on deal flows. Not all of these methods will be amenable to blockchain transactions early on.
For members and/or the general public to financially contribute to projects.
Tools that any website can incorporate:
- Giveth (has a whitelabel option)
- Investibule, a community-based investment platform developed by members of Slow Money
- An approach like Gitcoin Grants
- Superfluid – We’d like to see or create open-source subscription frontends for Superfluid streams, that creators and communities can implement on their websites.
- Spendless: lock up your stablecoin, allocate the interest to a cause you care about. No loss (apart from opportunity + inflation costs) charitable giving, and you can withdraw your funds, in full, and use them as you need. This project grew from rTrees.
Bounties are tasks that are put forth by a community or team which need to be done in order to accomplish the project’s goals. Doers can take on the task, and receive payment or tokens upon completion. Once funds become available, the tokens may be exchanged proportionately for money available; or, they can be used more like a time bank, for example a graphic designer who has 500 tokens for a project they delivered, can transfer those to a massage therapist for their services, or to a local farm CSA to receive x months of a produce subscription. This has the potential to create more liquidity of resources in a community. Examples:
- SourceCred’s approach uses nontransactional value flows.
- CapeTown Talent Exchange
- The Story of the Secret Underground Communications Network of Operation Vula
Projects Database (data sharing)
In the context of philanthropy, many groups are working on how to share a database of projects’ data to match them with philanthropic donors focused on their area of action/impact. This requires a data governance and relationship building process with both the projects/organizations and the funder coalitions who sometimes perceive conflicts of interest. Bloom Network is interested in matching these groups with web3 data protocols and leaning into the data cooperatives forming in that space who have developed good methods for governance, security, and permissions for accessing data. DataUnion and Rocketstar Foundation are among the web3 data cooperatives. Regeneration Fund, Regenerosity, and Thriving Resilient Communities Accelerator are among the impact-oriented groups.
Some of the concerns with this approach, that need to be carefully handled, are how to involve the moment leaders on the ground with funding decisions so that class division does not drive the outcomes. Frameworks such as Just Transition and Decolonizing Wealth are relevant here. For example, philanthropists involving movement leaders in developing and revising criteria for what is most important to fund, is important. Sometimes this process necessitates training on unpacking privilege, and systemic analysis of philanthropy as an institution.
Contributors to this article: