Accepting funding can be a risk.

When funders do not fully understand the circumstances under which their grantees operate, their funding can have unintended consequences, and even pose risks.

Insight 10


  • In instances where funding causes teams and projects to need to adapt their structure (e.g. by giving up day jobs, dedicating more time to funded projects than others), receiving short-term funding can lead to long-term dependence.
  • Funders who explicitly influence governance structure and decision-making are viewed as intrusive.
  • Collective and embedded infrastructure projects are decentralized; they defy structure. As one interviewee put it: “decentralization means trust, which is built over a long time on the basis of personal connections”. If funders demand a higher degree of centralization (in the form of governance), this can harm the community.
  • When funders push projects towards creating new, paid management positions, this changes the community dynamic. These positions and the people who fill them will only be trusted to stick around if the funder commits to supporting them in the long term.
  • Even though the people who work on digital infrastructure perceive their work as political, the projects themselves often preserve a neutral status. Receiving grants from funders with a strong political position can sow doubt as to the integrity and intentions of even non-aligned grantees.


“There is no good mechanism [to enroll donors] for 1-2 people projects or teams.”

“We have been blamed for funding by [public funder 1] and [public funder 2].”

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