Funding & Conflicts Policy

Mission and Structure of the Coalition

The Design 4 Democracy (D4D) Coalition (“the Coalition”) is a global network of organizations that are committed to enshrining democracy and human rights as core design principles within the tech industry. Given the transformational impact that digital products and platforms have had on politics in the 21st century, the Coalition believes that tech companies have a responsibility to help respond to the challenges confronting democracy in the digital age. In this context, the Coalition welcomes the industry’s willingness to bring their financial and intellectual resources to bear in support of trusted democratic advocates and partner organizations around the world. It is imperative, however, that the Coalition maintains its ability to advocate for its mission effectively and independently.

The Coalition is not an independent organization, but a collective initiative of the network members. Funding to support Coalition activities may flow through any number of Coalition partners or organizations. However, all Coalition-branded activities must comply with the following guidelines, and certain standards apply to all activities that will be branded with the D4D Coalition name and logo.


Status of These Guidelines

To support Coalition activities, Core Partners and Members of the Coalition accept funding from a variety of donors. The Advisory Board has adopted these guidelines which are to be followed with respect to funding in support of the Coalition.



Diversification of Funding Sources

The Coalition believes that its activities will be strengthened by its ability to engage a broad range of partners and funders. The Coalition will solicit resources to support its mission from public and private sources, including philanthropic foundations, high-net worth individuals, the tech industry and governments, particularly through bilateral development agencies. The Advisory Board will periodically review the mix of funding sources and provide advice on ensuring the diversification of funding. Recognizing that funders vary in their ability to make contributions or award grants, the initial funding for the Coalition is expected to be less diverse than what will emerge over time. The goal for funding by the end of 2019 is to have revenue provided by at least six different funding sources — including the tech industry, governments and philanthropic organizations — with no single organization providing more than a quarter of the funding for Coalition activities.

Specific Restrictions on Funding from For-Profit Industry Sources

The Coalition believes that, in order to advance the Coalition’s mission, it is helpful to have the active engagement of the tech industry, and that the tech industry has a moral responsibility to help ensure that its platforms and products support the development of a world that is more democratic, peaceful and respectful of human rights. The Coalition welcomes the active partnership of industry — including financial support — to help realize the benefits of, and solve the challenges presented by, technology in building a more democratic and peaceful world. However, the Coalition also recognizes that the financial interests of the tech industry may, at times, be in conflict with the mission of the Coalition, and so will adopt specific policies regarding the use of industry funding. In particular, the intent of these policies are: 1) to ensure that tech firm contributions and are not used for “open washing,” 2) platform-agnostic, i.e. are not used to underwrite initiatives that could create marketplace advantage; 3) to limit the use of the Coalition brand by for-profit tech partners to approved uses.

Oversight of Coalition Activities

Coalition activities will be overseen by its Advisory Board. The Advisory Board is intended to draw on a broad range of experiences, with expertise in specific issue areas that the Coalition is intended to address, such as disinformation, civic tech, privacy, cybersecurity, digital and media literacy, and policy and regulatory issues. It is also intended to provide perspectives on the Coalition’s activities across geographic regions and political contexts. The Advisory Board will have responsibility for approving specific guidelines regarding Coalition activities, receive reporting on Coalition funding, and exercise oversight of Coalition activities to ensure fidelity to the Coalition’s mission. As such, it will not include for-profit representatives from the tech industry.

Limitation on the Use of Industry Contributions

Given the Coalition’s focus on issues at the intersection of technology and democracy, funds contributed from for-profit companies in the tech industry (“industry funding”) will be tracked and accounted for separately from funding that comes from public and other sources. Separate accounting helps to ensure that these funds are being used in accordance with this policy and consistently with our community’s expectations. The Coalition acknowledges that industry funding may present real or perceived risks to the credibility of certain Coalition activities, and should avoid such risks. The Coalition will operate, in part, through Working Groups, and the Advisory Board may determine that certain working group activities (such as tech policy advocacy), as well as certain research or analysis activities, must be funded by sources other than Technology Partners.

Advisory Board Membership

Representatives from wholly for-profit tech firms (excluding for-profit endeavors that are wholly owned by non-profit foundations) may not serve on the D4D Coalition Advisory Board and may not participate in the development of the Coalition’s governance. Individuals working within the Coalition’s governance structure or serving on the Advisory Board are required to disclose any contracts or formal professional engagements with tech companies.

Non-Disclosure Agreements and Data-Sharing

The tech industry has often partnered with non-profit organizations in supporting and conducting research. The Coalition strongly believes that any research conducted by the Coalition should serve the public interest and be shared with all relevant actors. Any research arrangement with the tech industry that involves data-sharing or non-disclosure of results must be specifically considered and approved by the Advisory Board.

Fiscal Transparency

Members of the D4D Coalition agree to disclose all funding sources for Coalition-branded activities in a timely fashion (e.g. on a website, in annual reports, etc). Where possible, specific funding for Coalition-branded activities should also be disclosed to participants in and beneficiaries of those activities.