Inside Digital Democracy’s Strategic Planning Process

author: Emily Jacobi
date: 2011-03-16 16:23:31+00:00
slug: inside-digital-democracys-strategic-planning-process
title: Inside Digital Democracy’s Strategic Planning Process
wordpress_id: 2757

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    In 2008, we formed Digital Democracy based on a simple but powerful idea: Technology should be used to empower even the most marginalized groups to engage in democratic action, whether locally, on a national or international scale.

The idea for Digital Democracy was inspired by the courage of Burmese monks, human rights workers and advocates fighting for positive change in their country. Yet it is clear that the idea of Digital Democracy is much greater than any one people, country or struggle.

Over the past two months we have been both humbled and inspired by the people-powered movements for change throughout the Middle East and North Africa. These demonstrate the power of collective action, and also the way that new tools are being used.

From Tunisia to Egypt, these very vivid examples of people using technology for democratic engagement demonstrate the core values of our organization. They also come at a fitting time.

For the past six months we have been asking ourselves questions about the broader goals of our organization, and how Digital Democracy can have the greatest impact. These questions were all part of a strategic planning process led by the brilliant thinkers of Helsinki Group. They have engaged our staff, advisors and leaders in our field to explore what exactly Digital Democracy is, and what our growth and future might be.

Thanks to the guidance of Helsinki, invaluable input from our advisors and other mentors, and the dedication of the Dd staff — who until this point have been volunteers — we have emerged with a honed vision of our values & future.

Our Mission:
Digital Democracy empowers marginalized groups with technology to build their futures.

Our Vision:
A world where all people can meaningfully participate in decision-making to build stronger and more prosperous societies.

We plan to do this in two ways:
1) Dig deep to build long-lasting partnerships – and the capacity of our partners – continuing our work in 3 primary theatres:

·      Countries with repressive regimes (like Burma/Myanmar)
·      Countries suffering the after-effects of natural disaster (like Haiti)
·      Post-conflict transitioning states (like Guatemala).

2) Continue to partner with local groups in new places as tech experts, researchers and trainers. The focus will be building grassroots capacity, promoting civic engagement, & further understanding local definitions of democracy.

Our Theory of Change:
We believe change does not come from technology, but from how people use it. Our programs focus on a cycle we have identified:


Digital literacy, digital organizing, and digital governance are the three components critical to creating a state of "digital democracy," where all people have the ability to participate in a meaningful way in the decision-making that impacts their lives.