Discount tickets to Personal Democracy Forum in NYC


For the third year in a row, the organizers of Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) are offering a discount on registration to members of the Idealist community. (If you’re reading this, that means you!)

PdF is a two-day conference exploring and analyzing technology’s impact on politics, government, and civil society. This year’s event takes place June 11-12 in New York City and is centered around the theme “The Internet’s New Political Power.” Speakers will include:

  • David Boyce, CEO of Fundly, the largest online social fundraising platform in the U.S.
  • Sara Horowitz, Executive Director and Founder, Freelancers Union
  • Van Jones, president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream
  • John Perry Barlow, Co-Founder & Vice Chairman, Electronic Frontier Foundation

…And many more.

Planning to attend? Receive 15% off the nonprofit rate with coupon discount code IDEALIST2012.

You can also apply for a Google PdF fellowship for a chance at free registration. According to the site, they’re “looking for innovative people who are trying to tackle big, meangingful problems. Are you trying to change government? Shaking up the non-profit world with a promising new start-up? Blazing new trails in online politics? The Google PdF Fellowship could be yours.” Learn more and apply by Wednesday, May 9.

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"Open up philanthropy": Lucy Bernholz at PdF 2011

Last week I got to attend the annual Personal Democracy Forum (PdF), a conference that crams two days full of nearly 40 talks and panels that explore technology’s impact on politics and government.

This is the first of a few posts about PdF11 takeaways that might be of of particular interest to our community. This one is about Lucy Bernholz; watch the video of her talk here.


Lucy Bernholz blogs at

“I need your help to open up philanthropy,” said self-described philanthropy wonk Lucy Bernholz. How many of us, Bernholz asked, have researched a nonprofit on GreatNonprofits or GuideStar, backed a project on Kickstarter, or made a loan through Kiva? Thanks to sites like these, we can access vetted information about the causes we care about, feel confident that diligence has been done, and add our own testimonials so that others can do the same.

Contrast that, Bernholz said, with the experience of applying for a grant. We spend hours on end researching, editing, and laying out our ideas and plans to do something specific in hopes of making our communities better. At long last, we submit the application and – then what?

From Bernholz’s transcript:

In a best-case scenario, the due diligence by each funder unleashes one grant.

In the usual scenario, the due diligence results in no grant and no information sharing on what was proposed.

Imagine being able to unlock the vaults on what the Carnegie Corporation, literally the grand daddy of American foundations, knows about after school programs […] or what we could learn from the Gates Foundation about improving libraries or distributing vaccines.

But how do we get foundations to share this information? Bernholz pointed out that several foundations and organizations are already leading by example: from the DonorsChoose hackathon supported by Bing to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, “which feeds all of its grants out in an RSS feed as well as on Twitter.” She implored the crowd at PdF11 (mostly tech geeks) to do three things: ask foundations to share the data they have about what’s been proposed and what works; give them permission to share your information when you apply for grants; and show them what their data can look like. If we do this, we can give communities and planners access to a vast amount of information about good ideas and good projects – the ones that are funded as well as those that aren’t.

Do you work in philanthropy? Or do you rely on foundations to run your programs? I’d love to hear what you think of Bernholz’s talk, specifically:

  • Why aren’t more foundations already sharing data like this? What are the main barriers and challenges?
  • Do you believe, as Bernholz does, that “we need to hold foundations – which hold private resources in trust for the public good – accountable to that public good”?
  • Do you have a favorite example of a foundation’s transparency leading to positive change in a community or around an issue?

The full transcript and video are here.

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Discount tickets to Personal Democracy Forum


Visit to learn more.

Personal Democracy Forum is a month away, and as a member of the Idealist community, you qualify for a $100 discount off the registration cost.

What is PdF?
Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) is “the world’s leading conference exploring and analyzing technology’s impact on politics and government.” It takes place June 6-7 in New York City.

This year’s theme is Agents of Change. Say the organizers:

We’ll be shifting focus from technology itself to what people do with these new tools; how key actors like organizers, political leaders, volunteers, and followers interact; and how these players are learning from and adapting to the new environment they are themselves helping create and shape.

Learn more and register at

Who can I see there?
Speakers this year will include:

  • Sami Ben Gharbia, Tunisian exile blogger-journalist-activist
  • Vivek Kundra, White House Chief Information Officer
  • Jenny Beth Martin, national co-coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots
  • Andy Carvin, NPR social media guru
  • Susan Morgan, director of the Global Network Initiative
  • Nathan Freitas, longtime longtime coder, the Guardian Project
  • …and many more.

And how do I snag that discount?
Simply enter the code IDEALIST2011 when you register, and you’ll be charged $100 less than the stated price.

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Personal Democracy Forum Discount for Idealist Community

From PDF 2009

From PDF 2009, via Flickr user neotint

Personal Democracy Forum is “the world’s leading conference exploring technology’s impact on politics and advocacy.” This year, the conference takes place in New York at the CUNY Graduate Center on June 3rd and 4th, and attendees will take part in the conversations that are driving real changes in technology, governance, and the non-profit world.

Non-profit and government rates are available, and the PDF organizers have offered a special discount for Idealist users. Visit to find out more and use the coupon code “idealist” to get an extra 15% off your registration.

If you go, you’ll have the chance to learn more about how to use technology and social media to mobilize support for your cause. You’ll also have the chance to hear from featured speakers Allison Fine and Beth Kanter, authors of the forthcoming book The Networked NonProfit; Deanna Zandt, author of the forthcoming book Share This!: How You Will Change the World with Social Networking, and the founders of OneWebDay,,,, and more.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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