A event in the «Unternehmen Mitte» in the centre of Basel to mark the launch of the charity’s crowdfunding efforts on 13 September 2019.

Rethin­king charity

The hope is that a charity by the many, for the many, will give the general public the opportunity to engage with politics. A democracy charity is growing out of the WeCollect platform, with WeCollect launching its crowdfunding appeal for this charity on 13 September.

Digi­ta­li­sa­tion repres­ents an oppor­tu­nity to redis­tri­bute poli­ti­cal power within Switz­er­land,’ says Daniel Graf, foun­der of the WeColl­ect plat­form. The plat­form helps with coll­ec­ting signa­tures from private citi­zens in support of poli­ti­cal initia­ti­ves. Now, working with Che Wagner in Basel, he wants to set up a demo­cracy charity. The inten­tion is that digi­ta­li­sa­tion will give civil society a voice, and Daniel Graf wants nothing less than to keep deve­lo­ping demo­cracy in Switz­er­land: ‘It’s high time,’ he says. He uses the poli­ti­cal back­ing behind the Glet­scher Initia­tive to prove this: over just four months, the people who laun­ched the initia­tive were able to coll­ect more than 120,000 signa­tures via WeCollect’s plat­form. Many of these signa­to­ries did not just sign their name – they also wanted to support the campaign on a finan­cial level. The next step would be moti­vat­ing more citi­zens to take part in initia­ti­ves and refe­renda. After all, many people who are entit­led to vote have never even signed a petition. 


Now, a charity is to drive forward the evolu­tion of demo­cracy. The charity will be non-parti­san and inde­pen­dent, mana­ged by a stream­li­ned board of trus­tees. This board will decide which initia­ti­ves and refe­renda to support, manage project funds and run online plat­forms like WeColl­ect. Before this idea can be imple­men­ted, they need to rethink the form of the charity itself. ‘Of course, the charity needs to have objects that cannot be construed in any other way,’ says Daniel Graf. ‘But we want to create a charity made up of a clus­ter of inte­rests.’ As with crowd­fun­ding, the money for this comes from the gene­ral public. Their objec­tive is to gain around 1,000 support­ers: ‘If we can reach that figure, we can assume that the public is inte­res­ted in our charity.’ The hope is that the charity will give private citi­zens a voice. The charity aims to reach out to young voters, in parti­cu­lar, and encou­rage them to actively parti­ci­pate in demo­cracy. The charity’s inde­pen­dence of exis­ting party struc­tures is some­thing that Graf sees as an advan­tage, as it can bring new alli­ances to the table and lay out its prio­ri­ties without being influen­ced by a poli­ti­cal agenda. The WeColl­ect plat­form will be an important tool in this regard. It is being expan­ded, and, in the future, will be available for matters on a natio­nal, canto­nal and commune-based level. The demo­cracy plat­form is an incu­ba­tor: ‘It helps to get the ball rolling on poli­ti­cal issues and really get them off the ground,’ says Daniel Graf. Crowd­fun­ding was laun­ched on 13 Septem­ber. At the start of Octo­ber, they reached their target of 1,000 support­ers, gathe­ring small-scale dona­ti­ons that added up to more than 100,000 Swiss francs.


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