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is crowdfunding charity?

The article below was published (in Greek) in the online magazine Hit&Run (here)


Crowdfunding is -according to Wikipedia- “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, today often performed via internet-mediated registries, but the concept can also be executed through mail-order subscriptions, benefit events, and other methods”. Both Crowdfunding and Peer to Peer (P2P) funding (though they differentiate in some ways), come under the generic term “alternative finance”, which describes finance that comes from sources alternative to the traditional places (banks and venture capital trusts, for example).

“The crowdfunding model is based on three types of actors: the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; individuals or groups who support the idea; and a moderating organization (the “platform”) that brings the parties together to launch the idea”. These new ways of obtaining finance are considered -especially from the institutional subsidizers- to be “disruptive” in the sense that they are disrupting (for the good) the funding market. They offer to that region and to those who need it a different range of options and, in many cases, funding they wouldn’t get from traditional sources. Furthermore, the variation in contribution options includes also participation in services such as translations, co-productions, dissemination and sharing the idea and the campaign for it, thus creating a sense of community and of “belonging”. Crowdfunding practices have, at times, been subjected to criticism, especially in cases of projects and ideas with movement characteristics, on the bases of displacing more engaged forms of activism. A critical approach that needs deeper analysis: one that would take into account contemporary dynamics concerning the “economy of the movements” and the general tendency of centralization of accumulation of capitals and of their distribution systems.

Crowdfunging, as a practice, first appeared early in the past decade in the USA, mostly as a tool to fund innovative ideas and backing venture models to address growth and humanitarian issues of the so called “third world”.
In 2013, according to data cited in Wikipedia, the crowdfunding “industry” raised over $5.1 billion worldwide. Given its genesis as a means of raising funds for concerts and art productions, many people think of crowdfunding as an inherently philanthropic act. But one of the more significant elements of these platforms is that, while they aggregate individual financial contributions, they also commingle different kinds of financial actions. What one person may see as a charitable donation to support a musical performance, another might assume is a ticket purchase. Because the sites offer incentives at different contribution sizes, and because many people pay less than the actual price of the item, it is unclear whether they are making a charitable contribution and getting a sticker or simply purchasing a sticker instead of a ticket. While tax deductibility may be a signal to some contributors that their money is “charitable,” others contribute simply because they want the event to happen or the record to get made, they’re just supporting the creation and public activity.

The confusion around crowdfunding, even in cases that concern assertion of social endeavors for the commons exists also in Greece in times of recession and of capital controls.

Personal Cinema team begun a crowdfunding campaign on October 17th, on the Spanish platform, for the production and dissemination of a documentary film about Wireless Community Networks in the area of Sarantaporo and the 15 villages currently connected to the network. is a community under the legal form of an NGO, based in Barcelona and aiming to act as a mediator and generate resources through crowdfunding as well as institutional actors -e.g. the European Cultural Foundation- for projects related to Commons (either digital or material).

They describe their presence in the internet as “a more ethical and collaborative Internet where citizens take an active role in improving and advancing their communities in economic, environmental, educational, political, social and/or cultural terms, through cooperative processes. A society where value is protected and the recognition of common goods, guarantors of fundamental rights is expanded. Our tools, such as Goteo, mobilize economic resources and human partnerships; contribute to community building; disseminate and create awareness and commitment around civic causes. They enable large scale collaboration among equals; establish connections and support among businesses, universities and citizens; and promote openness of information and knowledge to enable logics of transparency and cooperation instead opacity and competition.”

The documentary film “Building Communities of Commons” by the PC collective, engages in research, documentation and dissemination of the initiative to deploy the Sarantaporo Wireless Community Network, as well as in tracking the history of internet accessibility in an area of Greece that is considered remote and where access -if any- is difficult; something that bared grave consequences on local population. For example, non access to the internet made impossible for visiting rural doctors to make online prescriptions. The film also documents the efforts of locals to form productive and processing cooperatives based on the experiences drawn from building a community around the wireless network of

Obviously, it’s clear that both the Sarantaporo Wireless Network, as well as the film that documents the whole process, constitute social initiatives involving social groups in an effort to reconstruct their social fabric as well as develop tools to (re)enliven their productive economy. Initiatives based on self-organisation, collaboration and on funding by a crowd that shares these common values.
The implementation of capital controls in Greece is already a form of state of exception within the Finance framework. Until the beginnings of October, money transfer abroad via e-banking actions is prohibited, even though there are few exceptions. But in the partial lift of the controls for sums up to 500€ per month concerning electronic transnational banking transactions, crowdfunding remains an exception (or even, an exception to the exception). The reason being that it is labeled as “charity”, therefore it is -together with jewelry purchasing, online videogame subscriptions and online betting on foreign sites- blocked. In other words, raising funds by the many for social issues that concern them in Greece of capital controls, is considered a “matter of philanthropy” and the immediate and common use of credit or debit cards is blocked. Strangely enough though, the inter-mediation of the multinational online paying service Paypal is not blocked. Via this service, the prohibition is bypassed and the transaction is doable. But at the same time this implication negates equal access of the citizen to back and, in the end, to channel resources in the way he/she judges fitting, contributing in ideas he/she wishes to see realized in public. At the same time, it shows the limits of the modeling of online tools that act as mediators aiming to allow for the emergence of practices based on transparency.

To a possible further extent of the definition of crowdfunding the many, one could conclude that: philanthropic act is a shady act. But the question raised is: is crowdfunding charity?

Open Invitation to Participate at the 3rd CommonsFest 2015



For English scroll down

Τριτο Φεστιβαλ των Κοινων. Commonsfest. Ανοιχτο καλεσμα συμμετοχης.


Η οργανωτική ομάδα του Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών, CommonsFest 2015, απευθύνει ανοικτό κάλεσμα σε πρόσωπα, κοινότητες και συλλογικότητες που δραστηριοποιούνται στην παραγωγή, διαχείριση και υπεράσπιση των Κοινών να συμμετάσχουν στο 3ο Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών που θα πραγματοποιηθεί από τις 15 έως τις 17 Μαίου 2015 στην Αθήνα.

Το Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών (CommonsFest) ξεκίνησε σαν πρωτοβουλία από το Ηράκλειο της Κρήτης και έχει ήδη στο ενεργητικό του δύο επιτυχημένες διοργανώσεις που προσέλκυσαν το ενδιαφέρον της διεθνούς κοινότητας των Κοινών. Η φιλοσοφία των κοινών, ευρύτατα διαδεδομένη στις κοινότητες του ελεύθερου λογισμικού και του ανοικτού σχεδιασμού, επεκτείνεται σήμερα με ταχύτητα σχεδόν σε όλες τις πτυχές της ανθρώπινης δραστηριότητας. Τα Κοινά, αποτελούν συστήματα διακυβέρνησης όλων αυτών που κληρονομήσαμε ή παράγουμε μαζί. Συνιστούν πρακτικά παραδείγματα συνεργασίας και συμμετοχής για τη διαχείριση διαφορετικών πόρων ώστε να καλύπτονται οι ανθρώπινες ανάγκες και το ευ ζην πέρα από το κράτος και την αγορά.

Το Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών δείχνει το δρόμο να δημιουργήσουμε τον κόσμο που θέλουμε μέσα στον κόσμο που θέλουμε να ξεπεράσουμε!

Στο 3ο Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών θα παρουσιαστούν οι πρακτικές, οι εμπειρίες και τα τεχνήματα κοινοτήτων και θα συζητηθεί η επέκταση των Κοινών σαν ένα βιώσιμο υπόδειγμα κάλυψης των ανθρώπινων αναγκών. Θα ανιχνευθούν οι συνέργειες και θα επιδιωχθεί η ενίσχυση της δικτύωσης της κοινής παραγωγής ανάμεσα στις κοινότητες, τα κοινωνικά κινήματα και τους αναδυόμενους φορείς της κοινωνικής οικονομίας στην κατεύθυνση ενδυνάμωσης των Κοινών. Ενδεικτικοί τομείς της θεματολογίας του φεστιβάλ των Κοινών είναι:

  • Ελεύθερο λογισμικό και ανοικτό υλικό
  • Κοινά γνώσης και πολιτισμού / Τέχνες
  • Αστικός δημόσιος χώρος
  • Τηλεπικοινωνίες – το ραδιόφασμα σαν Κοινό / – Κοινά τηλεπικοινωνιακά δίκτυα (βλ. Community Wireless/Fiber Networks)
  • Ενέργεια
  • Μετακίνηση και μεταφορές
  • Νερό, δάσος, γη, αιγιαλός, ατμόσφαιρα (Φυσικά Κοινά)
  • Βιοποικιλότητα
  • Γεωργία και εξασφάλιση τροφής
  • Εργασία
  • Το νόμισμα σαν Κοινό
  • Προσανατολισμένοι στα Κοινά συνεταιρισμοί και δομές αλληλέγγυας οικονομίας
  • Κοινωνικά κινήματα προσανατολισμένα στην δημιουργία και φροντίδα των Κοινών
  • Φυσική δομηση
  • Υγεία
  • Οικιακη οικονομια

Υποβολή προτάσεων συμμετοχής:
Οι ενδιαφερόμενοι να βοηθήσουν στην διοργάνωση ή να συμμετάσχουν με παρουσιάσεις, εργαστήρια, δρώμενα, καλλιτεχνικές δημιουργίες ή διοργάνωση προβολών, καλούνται να αποστείλουν τις προτάσεις τους συμπληρώνοντας τη φόρμα συμμετοχής.

Παρακαλούμε οι προτάσεις να υποβληθούν μέχρι τις 5 Μαρτίου επικαιροποίηση: επέκταση της προθεσμίας ως τις 20 Μαρτίου 2015.

Όποιοι επιθυμούν να συμμετέχουν πιο δραστήρια στις συζητήσεις γύρω από το φεστιβάλ και τα κοινά γενικότερα μπορούν να δημιουργήσουν λογαριασμό στο μέσο κοινωνικής δικτύωσης

Επικοινωνία με την Οργανωτική Επιτροπή στο info.ath (στο) commonsfest (τελεία) info


Open Invitation to Participate at the 3rd CommonsFest 2015


The organisatory committee of CommonsFest 2015 addresses an open invitation to individuals, communities and collectives engaged in the production, management and defense of the commons to participate in the 3rd CommonsFest to be held in Athens, from May 15 to 17, 2015.

Born in Heraklion, Crete, CommonsFest already has to his credit two successful events that attracted the interest of the international community. The philosophy of the commons, which is widespread in the free software and open design communities, today rapidly expands in almost all aspects of human activity. Commons are governance systems of all those things we have co-inherited and/or produce together. They constitute practical examples of cooperation and participation for the management of divergent resources to meet our human needs and well-being beyond the state and market.

CommonsFest shows the way to create the world we want in the world we want to overcome!

In our 3rd CommonsFest a wealth of practices, experiences and artifacts of commons’ communities will be presented and the expansion of the commons will be discussed as a viable model of meeting human needs. We will jointly detect for synergies to strengthen the networking of joint projects between communities, social movements and emerging social economy actors towards the empowerment of the commons. The Festival will feature the following indicative areas of interest :

  • Free software and open hardware
  • Knowledge and cultural commons
  • Urban public space
  • Communications & radio spectrum as a commons
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Water, forests, land, beaches, air (natural commons)
  • Biodiversity
  • Agriculture and food production
  • Labour
  • Currency as a commons
  • Commons orientated cooperatives solidarity economy structures
  • Commons’ movements
  • Natural construction
  • Health

Proposals for participation :

All parties interested in helping to co-organize the Festival or participate with presentations, workshops, events, artistic creations or screenings, are invited to complete the participation form [1]. We kindly request for any proposals to be submitted until March 5th update: until March 20th, 2015.

Communication with the organizing Committee: info.ath (at) commonsfest (dot) info.

Update: 18/02/2015, 23:06
[1]: We have not yet decided wether we will accept presentations in English, due to technical reasons. We are working towards ensuring interpretation for the days of the festival, in order to be able to accommodate English-speaking presentations.

Love: A Timeless Common



Επειδή πιστεύουμε πως ο έρωτας είναι αυτό που μοιραζόμαστε έξω από τον επίπλαστο κόσμο της κατανάλωσης, την ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου, ημέρα της εμπορευματοποίησης του έρωτα, σας καλούμε σε ένα ξέφρενο και ρομαντικό πάρτυ με dj set και τίτλο “Love: A Timeless Common” στο Ελεύθερο Αυτοδιαχειριζόμενο Θέατρο ΕΜΠΡΟΣ (Ρήγα Παλαμήδου 2, Ψυρρή). Θα προηγηθεί στις 20:00 η πρώτη δημόσια προβολή του ντοκυμαντέρ “Η Γνώση ως Κοινό Αγαθό – Κοινότητες Παραγωγής και Διαμοιρασμού στην Ελλάδα” ( ) και θα ακολουθήσει συζήτηση με μέλη των ομάδων.

Οργανώνουμε αυτό το πάρτυ ως προφεστιβαλική εκδήλωση ενίσχυσης του 3ου Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών, που θα πραγματοποιηθεί από τις 15 έως τις 17 Μαίου 2015 στην Αθήνα (κτίριο Συλλόγου Ελλήνων Αρχαιολόγων, Ερμού 134) με συμμετοχές πολλών ομάδων και ομιλητών από την Ελλάδα και το εξωτερικό. Το Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών (CommonsFest) ξεκίνησε σαν πρωτοβουλία από το Ηράκλειο της Κρήτης και έχει ήδη στο ενεργητικό του δύο επιτυχημένες διοργανώσεις που προσέλκυσαν το ενδιαφέρον της διεθνούς κοινότητας των Κοινών. Στο 3ο Φεστιβάλ των Κοινών θα παρουσιαστούν οι πρακτικές, οι εμπειρίες και τα τεχνήματα κοινοτήτων και θα συζητηθεί η επέκταση των Κοινών σαν ένα βιώσιμο υπόδειγμα κάλυψης των ανθρώπινων αναγκών. Θα ανιχνευθούν οι συνέργειες και θα επιδιωχθεί η ενίσχυση της δικτύωσης της κοινής παραγωγής ανάμεσα στις κοινότητες, τα κοινωνικά κινήματα και τους αναδυόμενους φορείς της κοινωνικής οικονομίας στην κατεύθυνση ενδυνάμωσης των Κοινών. Αν είστε κάποια συλλογικότητα, που δημιουργεί μέσω της συνεργασίας, του μοιράσματος και της αλληλεγγύης, μπορείτε να δηλώσετε συμμετοχή στο Φεστιβάλ αλλά και να βοηθήσετε ενεργά στη διοργάνωσή του

Open Call for CommonsFest Athens 2015


Source :

After the open call for the organization of the 3rd CommonsFest at Heraklion, now comes the 1st open call for organizing CommonsFest in Athens in 2015. We wish a good start and we hope CommonsFest to travel in more cities in Greece and the rest of the world.

CommonsFest was held the last two years with great success in Heraklion, Crete. Through presentations, discussions and workshops it was clear that Commons establish an organizational sphere of human activity, characterized by fair and equitable benefit from participation and self-government. As part of the initiative “Building an Alliance for Commons” born for the first time in the second CommonsFest at Heraklion Crete in May 2014, participants decided to organize CommonsFest in Athens too in May 2015.

With open procedures we invite you Saturday, 22nd of November, 2014 at 16:00 in Cooperative Cafe at Plato Academy (Monastiriou Tilefanous 140) in a first open call for creating the organizational team, which will organize the festival. Come to co-organize a festival of resistance and creation with social ventures, which operate in a wide range of covering needs, from management of the digital commons to the necessary for life natural resources, projects dealing with sustainable forms of agriculture, with the retention of agricultural biodiversity, free broadband wireless networks, networks of solidarity that offer primary healthcare services, natural building methods, the approach of self-sufficiency through examples of home economics, alternative governance models, actions to safeguard the cultural commons, free software for the safe and effective management of information, new forms of collaborative innovation and knowledge sharing, citizen journalism, community supported agriculture, initiatives on digital freedoms, new forms of financing, the autonomous power supplies from renewable energy sources and open licenses for creators.

CommonsFest shows the way to create the world we want in the world that we want to overcome! CommonsFest is an initiative for the promotion of free knowledge and peer collaboration for the creation and management of the Commons. A philosophy which is widespread through communities of free software and extends to many aspects of our daily lives, such as the arts, government, hardware, tools and other goods.

Open Meeting for Organizing CommonsFest in Athens

Saturday, 22nd of November, 2014, 16:00

In Cooperative Cafe Plato’s Academy (Monastiriou Tilefanous 140)

Initiative “Building the Alliance of the Commons”