The Sustainable Crowdpol
Financial models of the ecosystem
Crowdpol is and must be financed by voluntary membership fees and brokerage fees. All funds not needed to maintain and protect the platform will be returned into the members’ custody through the Altruistic Wallet. From here, the members will direct them further within the ecosystem in alignment with their personal wishes and values. Through this practice, we will create a distributed ecosystem that allocates common funds in a democratic way with no need for a central authority or middlemen.
Funding sustainable altruism
Crowdpol as a project was never designed with the purpose of profit, but in order to perform its mission, it must find viable ways to finance itself. As it is ultimately a project based on democracy and privacy, it cannot allow itself to become dependent on funding by a single or a few large entities. Such entities will invariably have their own agendas that will, no matter how noble their reasons, at some point risk compromising the entire platform.
Crowdpol also needs to find a way to support the many developers who will provide services to its infrastructure as well as provide auxiliary services to better serve the individual needs of different communities.
In order to meet with the long term financial demands, we have opted for two basic and time-tested models, voluntary membership fees and brokerage fees.
Though the basic democratic functions of Crowdpol will always be free, we will offer our users the option of premium membership. Premium members will get access to a number of useful tools for their financial support, mainly in the realm of content creating, and will also get a direct vote on how Crowdpol is to be developed and governed. Premium membership will also receive dividends in their Altruistic Wallet (AW) once the network has a surplus.
The Altruistic Wallet’s main feature is that its contents cannot be spent directly on the individual themself. The content can only be used to support individual changemakers vetted by the network, much as a Patreon subscription or similar would work, or in order to support a project within the network run by a verified project manager. In this vein, AW can also be used to “vote” for development of the platform itself by funding new features or designs that one might like to make use of or see.
Paying one's way
To make the cost of running a platform such as Crowdpol as visible as possible, we are deploying a system of tokenized micropayments in the form of credits. The idea is to tie these credits to all individual actions one can take on the platform so the costs of interaction are visualized in a transparent way. Monthly membership fees are converted into credits and “deposited” in the member's Altruistic Wallet.
One of the features of using this system is that members can support content creators in a very automated way. Any upvote or other act of appreciation will translate into a credit being transferred from the AW of the appreciator to the AW of the content creator. These micropayments also serve to give a value to likes and upvotes. For users that want to “tip” a content creator further, they can make arbitrary payments between AWs at any time with the click of a button. However, as all such transactions go from one altruistic wallet to another, they will not leave the system until they are removed in support of a project or an individual changemaker. Unlike other platforms that seek to reimburse content creators directly, Crowdpols aim is to promote altruism by rather supporting the pro-social and environmental projects of content creators.
As Crowdpol grows and we evolve into the next phase which, among other features, will entail the crowdfunding option of projects native to the platform, new options of monetization present themselves. The crowdfunding will allow Crowdpol to apply a small brokerage fee in order to further sustain the network.
What makes Crowdpol a viable candidate to expand into the domain of crowdfunding is the fact that the network can provide extensive tools to support project management and an entire system of clear metrics to follow up on projects over time. This will allow us to feed reliable data into the system and monitor how successfully the project both met its own targets as well as how it aligned with the greater global goals it was attempting to contribute to at its own level.
The second reason Crowdpol is suitable candidate for crowdfunding is that the platform will allow members to contribute other resources than cash, the dominant and often only option provided on the larger crowdfunding sites. Members of Crowdpol will be able to contribute to projects with their own time as well as being able to contribute with any other resources they are prepared to donate or lend to the project in question. This means the person setting up a project can ask for both monetary funds to pay for goods and services, the goods and services themselves, or a combination of the two.
When we use the metaphor of Crowdpol being a dating site for changemakers, this is what we mean. Space where we can find projects to contribute to and people to contribute with.
Once we have all the features of the community up and running and a clear foundation in practical and effective altruism, we will create a conscious marketplace. A space where services and goods can be traded between members of the community. This feature will naturally require that the platform itself has matured to provide sufficient purchasing power, at which point Crowdpol will most likely not require a brokerage fee to sustain itself. However, as Crowdpol’s main financial mission is to generate funds that can be allocated through the Altruistic Wallet to world-improving ends, the marketplace provides an option too good to pass up.
Therefore there will be an entry fee or commission for vendors wishing to sell their goods and services on the Crowdpol marketplace, in effect a sales tax. Unlike traditional sales taxes or commissions, the funds will not go to a third party or to a government but will be immediately deposited in equal share into the Altruistic Wallets of both parties. From this point, it is up to the owners of the individual wallets where the funds are to be allocated.
The Altruistic Wallets belonging to larger businesses utilising the platform to reach a new market will potentially grow large enough to fund serious projects on their own. In fact, using such features Crowdpol can become an effective forum for businesses to both conduct and display their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity in a transparent way.
Crowdpol’s economic ecosystem will as noted previously allow its members to decide what features to develop next, in turn allowing Crowdpol to evolve in an organic way. To further encourage innovation in the altruistic space of the commons, members will be able to set up bounties in response to more general challenges, in effect prize money for developers of open-source software that can then be used in the ecosystem without licensing fees. Naturally, challenges with bounties can be created on any topic and for any and. This will be the prerogative of the individual, community or organisation setting up the challenge.
An Ecosystem for developers
For Crowdpol to survive and thrive long term, it needs to be not only open source in its codebase and fiscally transparent as a legal entity, but it also needs to invite other networks, organisations and software solutions onto the platform. If Crowdpol is to solve the signal-to-noise issues plaguing the ether and sift out the golden nuggets of best practices we would be remiss if we did not seek out the best practices the current market has to offer.
With Crowdpol growing in membership, utility and scope, new features will no doubt be demanded by the individual users in the form of plug-ins, springing from their primary reason for using the platform. In order to reward developers and their teams, we would like to offer our members a second layer of paid services on top of the ones included in the platform itself. These paid plug-ins will naturally also come with the above-mentioned fee that will be deployed in the Altruistic Wallet.
This approach will allow for a creative space for developers and businesses to create useful tools that can either fund their Altruistic Wallets and the projects they, in turn, wish to support, or simply constitute potential revenue for their respective businesses.
Giving individuals and communities the option to customize their experience and design a personal version of Crowdpol that remains embedded within the larger ecosystem will, hopefully, serve to increase their impact as changemakers. Money is simply a means to an end but a crucial one in our current economy. The ultimate sign of Crowdpol becoming a viable operating system for our global society would be for money to no longer need to be used as a mediator or middleman for the allocation of resources. But that is a topic of an entirely different article.