How to equitably resolve the Black Lives Matter funding scandal using Ethereum: a lesson for future movements.

A funding scandal is about to engulf the Black Lives Matter movement, a diverse informal network of activists, NGOs, foundations and unaffiliated protesters who are behind the civil rights protests of our era.

The kindling for the eruption was laid in a recent Associated Press article entitled: “AP Exclusive: Black Lives Matter opens up about its finances.” The article revealed that The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation raised $90 million in 2020. This significant sum understandably surprised many activists in the diffuse movement that began many years ago and recently experienced a rebirth during the George Floyd protests.

“Today we hold Black Lives Matter accountable,” say activists in Ferguson.

Some grassroots activists in Ferguson are not surprised—they are angry. Most prominently, the father of Mike Brown and other early organizers in the initial Ferguson protests that first manifested the Black Lives Matter meme in the streets demanded that the The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation give them $20 million in compensation.

Here’s an article about their demand and the video they posted:

It’s too early to tell whether the BLM funding scandal will simmer down into suppressed resentments or boil over into an uncivil conflict.

And there is really no value in adopting a partisan position and blaming one side or the other. Truthfully, both sides are right. Activism takes a toll on a person: creators, founders and early movement participants all deserve to be rewarded and compensated.

Moreover, it is not reasonable to critique activists who acquire resources. It is obvious that resources allow for different kinds of activism to be attempted. And if any activist is given the opportunity to have a foundation with $90 million in assets then they should be encouraged by the movement to test out their theory of change.

The problem is that one affinity group has amassed $90 million while 99% of the movement has amassed debts, jail time and worse. In the language of cryptocurrency, the market cap of Black Lives Matter is $90+ million—if you add up all the assets held by movement participants—but a single whale has amassed the vast overwhelming majority of the treasury. That doesn’t bode well for the movement. Having a single whale is never the best distribution of resources.

So how do you fairly distribute resources among the movement’s diverse network of loosely affiliated early adopters? Can activists build movements from the beginning with a funding structure that benefits early participants?

The nature of protest makes a solution to problem more difficult and more necessary. No one can predict which movement’s will take off and which will fizzle. And it is not easy to quantify the relative significance of each person and organization’s role in the outcome of events. But if society keeps insisting that activism ought not be financially rewarded and that activists who are following their passion to create positive social change ought to scrounge for pennies while working to improve the world then it will never get the exemplary activism it needs. The world needs protest and protesters need the world’s support in order to do activism.

One thing is obvious: the philanthropic foundation model is not the only solution. There are alternatives so we must explore them.

It might be too late to avert the crisis within Black Lives Matter, it is possible that the foundation will not come to a peaceful resolution with the grassroots, but regardless of what happens there is clearly a need for an alternative approach to funding movements.

Let this be a lesson for future activists.

The following is a summary of a “New Funding Model” with the potential to revolutionize how activists, artists, protesters and movements are funded. I’ll explain the method, in brief, for free. If you benefit from this method then show your support by acquiring my token.

The New Funding Method exploits the composability of Ethereum to connect together two distinct projects—IdeaMarket and PoolTogether—in order to tokenize and fund any word, concept, art project, identity, movement, activist, meme, etc. Moreover, early adopters are rewarded by later supporters, so the activists who built the movement naturally acquire resources.

The benefit of building atop existing protocols, rather than custom coding a new smart contract, is that our token will inherit the latest features of Ethereum’s decentralized finance (DeFi). Plus, everything is accomplished in a web browser using nice graphical interfaces—any activist can create a movement token.

The end result will be a speculative movement token whose value increases with the perceived social impact of the movement. The movement token is minted on a bonding curve—early movement builders pay less for tokens than later supporters. The token is backed by an interest earning reserve fund that provides the movement with a steady and predictable income.

Early adopters are rewarded by the opportunity to buy a movement’s token in the early stages of the protest. They can also be rewarded later by others giving them additional movement tokens.

The two projects that we’ll be building atop are IdeaMarket and PoolTogether.

IdeaMarket turns any Twitter account into a speculative token that is sold on a bonding curve and collateralized by an interest-earning reserve fund.

PoolTogether gives us a fair, no-loss staking pool with advanced features including NFT lootboxes. Movements incentive supporters to deposit (“stake”) their movement tokens in exchange for the chance to win prices. These prizes can be money, unique artwork NFTs or commemorative tweets via Cent. The pool stabilizes (and, potentially, increases) the price of the movement’s token.

[Optional: Collab.Land offers a free community management bot that verifies token ownership and facilitates private spaces for engaged supporters. This bot can be used to create secure communication channels for individuals who hold significant amounts of the movement token.]

If you’re new to Ethereum this might not make a lot of sense yet. Hang in there and keep learning! Crypto is going to change how you think about activism!

How to use your newly created movement token to fund your art and activism

Any protest, movement or meme now has a token that can be bought, sold and staked. (See step-by-step instructions below.) What now? Well, that’s for the next generation of creators to figure out… But here’s just one observation to get your brainstorming started: If the movement’s creators buy the first 1000 tokens for $100, then for every 100 tokens bought by others, their tokens accrue $10 of value.

Put simply, if you’re a protest creator who is organizing a protest in the future then you can now speculate on the impact of your protest by creating a movement token and investing in it. If you’re protest takes off, and a social movement is born, then the value of your token increases. If the protest fizzles, then your financial investment does as well.

A potential solution to the funding scandal engulfing the Black Lives Matter movement

How could the The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation use the New Funding Method to efficiently redistribute movement resources?

The answer is now obvious: invest the $20 million demanded by Mike Brown’s father into the Black Lives Matter movement token. The foundation then gifts those tokens — which are instantly redeemable for $$$ — to key activists in the movement. The diffuse movement now has an activist currency and can work together on building a new movement economy!

Want to see it happen? Buy the Black Lives Matter movement token now on IdeaMarket.

Step-by-step instructions for activists on how create a movement token:

  1. Go to IdeaMarket.io and click “Add a listing”. In the pop up window, select Twitter and type in a Twitter username. You’ll want to tick “immediately buy this token” and invest some money acquiring the first batch of tokens at the lowest price.
Sample of how to fill out the “Add a listing” pop up on IdeaMarket.io

2. Once you’ve created the movement token, you’ll then have a landing page for your movement token on IdeaMarket.io where anyone can buy your movement’s tokens. Here’s an example landing page.

The price of the movement tokens increases on a bonding curve: “The first 1,000 tokens for each listing cost $0.10 each. Token price automatically increases by $0.01 for each 100 tokens bought afterward.” (source)

As the price of the tokens increases, so too does the reserve fund. All of the money invested in purchasing the movement tokens is stored in the reserve fund. This reserve fund earns interest on Compound.Finance. The owner of the Twitter handle has the ability to with withdraw the interest. Which means that as the movement’s token increases in price, the movement is able to fund itself from the interest earned by the movement’s reserve fund. Brilliant, no?!

3. Now that you have a speculative movement token, the next step is to create a decentralized staking pool. For this, we turn to the excellent PoolTogether who has built an easy-to-use builder tool: https://builder.pooltogether.com/

To understand the various parameters, read the help documentation. Basically, what you’re going to do is create a rewards pool that accepts your movement’s token as a deposit. How the pool works is very configurable, so you’ll need to put some thought into it.

This is an example interface for the staking pool.

4. Optional: Set up a Collab.Land bot on Discord to facilitate an engaged community. The bot can verify token ownership and allow holders into private spaces.

Buy the Black Lives Matter movement token now on IdeaMarket.

About the author

Micah White is the co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, the author of The End of Protest and co-founder of Activist School. Learn more at micahmwhite.com

Support the author

Was this article helpful? Buy Micah’s token on IdeaMarket to show your support.

I change the world by changing protest. Learn more at micahmwhite.com and activistschool.org

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