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Funding, accountability and trust in Internet governance

Page history last edited by Mary Murphy 8 years ago



Moderator: Pete Cranston, co-director, Euforic Services, Oxford
Markus Kummer, Member of the Board of Directors, ICANN
Désirée Miloshevic, Senior Adviser of International Affairs and Public Policy, Afilias International
Jean-Marie Chenou, Lecturer, University of Lausanne 




Funding, accountability, and trust are closely inter-related and are necessary for a legitimate governance system. Funding contributes to accountability, which in turn creates more trust in the IG space. This session will address various approaches to fundraising in IG. It will also discuss the question of accountability and trust.


Moderator Pete Cranston, co-director of Euforic Services, Oxford, opened the workshop presenting to the eight participants the three panellists as well as three topics that would guide the conversation:

  • Issues of conditionality and the relationship between policy positions, actions, and activities and the provision of funds
  • Sustainability of investment
  • How to use innovative ways of funding


All panellists had five minutes for an introductry presentation. This was followed by a discussion with the participants.


Session notes


Markus Kummer, Member of the Board of Directors of ICANN (Internet Corporate for Assigned Names and Numbers) presented the difference between governments, who have money attached to their tasks, and the UN, where funds have to be found. He explained how in the UN system funds are often voluntary contributions from donors and also detailed the difficulties in finding such funds. It is sometimes difficult to make donors understand what IG is about and why it could be in their interests to fund projects related to that topic. Then again there is a difference with Internet-related organisations, who do have their own funds. He talked about the IGF (Internet Governance Forum) Support Association  which concluded that it would be good to use new measures of funding, i.e., clustered funding, where an organisation receives small contributions instead of large amounts. Finally, Kummer invited the participants to make suggestions on innovative ways of funding.


According to Désirée Miloshevic, Senior Public Policy and International Affairs Advisor in Europe, Afilias, one innovative way of funding nowadays is crowd funding. An example of that type of funding is the IGF Support Association which collects small contributions from individuals as well as from organisations. In the relationship between policy decisions and provision of funds, Miloshevic sees no donor conflict; however, there are people lobbying and trying to make advantage of donor money in order to achieve policy goals. A good mechanism is to be found within the IGF: an independent secretariat and a Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) which decides the agenda. Also a diversity of donors and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are crucial in that area. On the question of sustainability, Miloshevic had no clear answer, but said we need more investment and that good examples could finally serve as incentives for other organisations.


Jean-Marie Chenou, Lecturer at the University of Lausanne, referred to the growing literature in the science of political relations. He talked about accountability as one of the main aspects: how funding is raised, how money is managed, and what the IG outcomes are. Thereby it doesn’t matter if the funding is public or private.


There are two kinds of legitimacy related to accountability:

  • Input legitimacy, i.e., related to transparency, which means that people know how the money of an organisation is managed. This is not only important for people inside an organisation, but also for people outside it. For those inside an organisation, such as stakeholders, transparency allows them to sanction the organisation if there is mismanagement. Regarding people outside the organisation, such as Internet users, it is more tricky; ways have to be found that allow them to participate.
  • Output legitimacy, i.e., goals shared not only by the institution, but also by Internet users as a whole. Chenou mentioned that in this context, it would be interesting to evaluate NETmundial.


Ensuring discussions treated two subjects: accountability and crowd funding:




Kummer explained that there are different levels of legitimacy: there is a difference between the inherent legitimacy of the UN, coming from the fact that it consists of member states, and the legitimacy other organisations have to earn. Yet they can earn it by the quality of their work, for example by the fact that the Internet is working.


With regard to the question of accountability and transparency, several people highlighted the importance of external mechanisms. Miloshevic, however, asked workshop participants to keep in mind that an external third party auditing is usually not very much appreciated by the people who are audited. Chenou made another, very clear point in this area of accountability and transparency and stated with reference to the IETF that a good output, i.e., a lot of money, is not enough – there must be transparency in the input as well in the output. The reason why companies engage in CSR must therefore always be transparent


Crowd funding


Kummer explained that crowd funding allows many people to make small contributions which by the number of people joining results in a large amount of money. The first to use this was President Obama for his election campaign.


Miloshevic then shared her crowd funding experience. It is simple to set up a crowd-funding project thanks to existing tools on the Internet. Cranston had a similar experience though he pointed out that it is a huge amount of work and that there needs to be a certain depth of support from people addressed. Referring to these two examples, one participant mentioned that churches are traditionally very successful with crowd funding in real life, because people believe in what they do.


Following this short discussion, participants were asked what would make them donate a dollar to the IGF? Answers included the following propositions:

  • The IGF should concentrate on concrete actions that will attract the attention of people and/or one specific topic each year, but not the IGF as a whole, as it is too vague.
  • It should be clear to donors where there money goes and what exactly it is used for.
  • IG is a term not many people know. Catchy subjects such as ‘child online protection’, ‘privacy’, or ‘avoid child pornography’ should be used.





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