Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Building global trust in institutions with the National Endowment for Democracy

In the last few years, we’ve been enormously grateful to have the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world.

Grace O'Hara
Aug 27 · 7 min read

Because working in the open is fundamental to our work, and to civic tech as a movement, and because we believe in acknowledging good things when they deserve recognition, we wanted to make our most recent status report public.

The following is what we’ve achieved, with the help of NED between July 2018 — June 2019 and a taste of what’s ahead.

On the note of acknowledgement also, much of this report was written by the incredible Krzysztof Madejski.

Goal 1: Growing the Network Through Affiliates & Partnerships

We clarified what it means to be an Affiliate Member of Code for All and what expectations we have for those joining the network. We also introduced a nomination system to help facilitate new conversations with organisations, and using the power of human connection to help us grow.

In the last year, we’ve been proud to officially welcome: K-Monitor, Code for Brazil, Fundacion Ciudadania Inteligente, Sinar Project, Code for Cameroon, Code for Ghana, Code for Kenya, Code for Morocco, Code for Nigeria, Code for Uganda, Code for Sierra Leone, Code for Tanzania, mySociety, Open Data Kosovo, Code for France, Waag Society and Open Knowledge Belgium.

Because we recognise the importance of having diversified funding and using the power of shared networks to grow organically, we’ve been working on some exciting proposals, concept notes and programs with TechSoup, TechSoup Europe, Hivos and the European Partnership for Democracy.

We’re excited to see where these conversations might lead, and how we can work collaboratively with these organisations to deliver better outcomes for our shared communities.

Goal 2: Civic Tech Scaling & Learning Through the Exchanges Programs

Over the last year, Code for All has facilitated connection and collaboration between members and the scaling of civic technology. Most of this was possible through the running of four international exchanges, involving a total of eight network members and five external NGOs.

We’ve recently written about what these exchanges were, what they achieved and what was learned (below).

Code for All infrastructure and networks have come in handy in other ways too. A regional consortium of organisations (Polish Political Accountability Foundation, Code for Romania, ePanstwo Foundation and Russian Golos) successfully applied to EU-Russia Civil Society Forum’s partnership grant with Observers in Action. This was made possible through previous conversations and existing local ties throughout the region.

Code for All was also able to expand upon the in-kind licences some organisations had with Adobe, and secure 150 Creative Cloud licenses for network members. Licenses were welcomed very warmly by the members, which we’ll be writing about in further detail hopefully soon.

Goal 3: Supporting Conversations & Collaborations

Scaling Civic Tech Forum — In July 2018 on the margins of the Open Government Partnership Summit in Tbilisi, Georgia, Code for All partnered with the Omidyar Network, NDI, Hivos, mySociety, TransparenCEE, and the IDFI to convene a forum entitled Scaling Civic Tech, in preparation for the Code for All Global Summit. Gathering almost 50 participants from 35 organizations, the goal of this forum was to bring together the donor and civic tech communities to raise the visibility of civic tech as a movement and to engage a more diverse group of donors and partners in an ongoing discussion about how best to support civic tech.

Code for All Global Summit — In October of 2018 over 200 civic tech experts from 50 countries were brought together at the Code for All Global Summit. Organised by Code for Romania and Code for All with support from Hivos, Techsoup and network members, the summit was a five day celebration of what’s been working, what hasn’t, and how we can better work together.

Monthly newsletter — Following one of the key needs expressed by members, we introduced an internal newsletter in early 2019. We’ve also created open, community versions of these newsletters for the wider community to gain value from too.

Peer Learning- After first introducing the idea in March, Code for All has delivered two Peer Learning Sessions, which focused on topics that members identified as important, such as Selling Civic Tech to Government, Good Project Flows. Webinars are followed by sharing minutes, recordings and finally a summary on Medium. Since this report, there’s been plenty more run with lots on the way too.

#reading-room — we created Slack channel, now with over 400 members, which serves as a place to gather all partner communications and press automatically, which has helped members to stay across what others are working on and sharing.

Goal 4: Increasing Visibility

Events — If you skimmed this, scroll back up to the in-person events mentioned earlier (the Code for Al Global Summit and Scaling Civic Tech Forum).

Storytelling — If you’ve noticed the amount of articles scattered throughout this piece, you’ll know that we focus on regularly releasing content that focuses on lessons learned and sharing models for success. Since July 1st 2018, 31 articles and 6 newsletters have been written and shared via the Code for All Medium account.

Goal 5: Governance & Sustainability

Board Meetings — Three board meetings were held, one in person and two online, inviting all members to attend and contribute to our strategy and direction, as well as provide feedback on how we’ve been doing.

An example of our of our retrospectives, which gives insight into some of the things we’ve been focussing on changing this year!

Executive Committee (ExCo) Biweekly Meetings — a total of 24 meetings have been facilitated, engaging members on a rotating basis to be board members. A total of seven member organisations have been included in the rotation this year, each contributing invaluable insights and advice to the Code for All team.

Onboarding Process — we developed an onboarding process introducing new members to opportunities and responsibilities in regards to being a member of the network.

Civic Tech Framework — we’ve also loosely been trying to create a shared understanding of civic tech, through the creation of a framework. This has been shared and is under ongoing development with members from across the Code for All network and wider community.

Since June…

We didn’t quite get our act together in time to submit an application for the most recent funding round with NED, but they graciously provided us with an extension until the end of September.

In the time since June, we’ve done an awful lot.

We hired and onboarded a new CfAll Coordinator, Kelly Halseth. She is taking over from Krzysztof Madejski, who is stepping down after many years of leading Code for All with humility, love, respect and a (seemingly) endless amount of optimism and dedication. While we will miss Krzysztof dearly, we are absolutely thrilled to have Kelly onboard and will be sharing much more about her soon. Stay tuned!

We’re continuing to ramp up Peer Learning sessions on topics including burnout, community building and Fellowship program onboarding and recruiting, and impact measurement.

We’ve launched and are supporting a Digital Citizen Engagement(DCE) co-creation exchange — a collaboration between SlashRoots and Codeando Mexico has begun to develop a research framework and research questions along with two webinars that will aim to map the DCE space and provide insights into how we can better strengthen collaborations.

We’re drafting a Theory of Change — building on from where Krzysztof left off, Kelly has made a plan to iterate on the current theory of change, implementing suggestions from members and experts from Engine Room. Once further developed, we’ll be sharing it with Code for All members to include feedback and input from everyone.

Along with much business as usual — writing stories and newsletters, organising our upcoming Board Meeting, facilitating ExCo calls and making connections between people in our community!

We’re dedicated to working in the open and hearing questions, comments and feedback from all. My inbox is always open or you can find me on Slack (@grace) anytime.

A huge thank you again to the folks at NED for seeing the value in our work and supporting us for two years now. We, and our communities all over the world, are eternally grateful!

Code for All

Code for All is the largest civic tech network in the world, amplifying the impact of good ideas through a global network of local organisations.

Grace O'Hara

Written by

Storyteller at Code for Australia & Small Fires. Trying to figure this world out in between, sometimes with words, mostly with action.

Code for All

Code for All is the largest civic tech network in the world, amplifying the impact of good ideas through a global network of local organisations.

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