There are two models for setting up a nonprofit educational group: one works by laying groundwork, especially by getting well known people to serve on an advisory board to help fund-raise, building a big war chest, and then unveiling a full-blown organization. The other route - which may be less used but is more consistent with my beliefs about the values of true populism and transparency - is to grow the group from grassroots, making friends for it and attracting donors from among ordinary folks, who may only be in a position to donate small amounts or to contribute ideas or their creative efforts. I prefer this route for the same reason I prefer uncorrupted markets and the common law: through processes of decentralized expressions of preference and judgments (e.g. where people put their money, how a jury evaluates a case or a court develops a bit of law), emerges an institution that is not imposed on people via a command and control model but instead develops a sort of organic durability.
Some of my closest friends have questioned the basics of 51 Percent: Will people be motivated to support a group that wants to educate people about the significance of putting the same percentage of women in the general population into every sphere of public life ? Do people really believe misogyny and misogynistic conduct can be reduced this way? Am I not running the risk of seeming offputtingly "extreme" or "abrasive" or "shrill"?
The best way I can learn the answers to these questions is to see how much support, financial and otherwise, 51 Percent garners. Every donation, every bit of constructive feedback serves the method of decentralized collection of preferences and ideas - not rigorously scientific, but perhaps sufficient for present purposes. And every donation and constructive non-financial contribution lets me know whether the educational mission of 51 Percent serves a felt need.
It has been heartening that within two weeks we have raised the funds to cover at about between a quarter and third of projected start-up costs (legal + accounting + website development = approximately $12,000 to $14000). That has enabled us to get moving swiftly with legal formation and a round of p.r. Next up: expenditures to cover accounting assistance and website development. We have managed to keep legal costs comparatively low through the good auspices of our attorney and my own ability to do some of the legwork; likewise, our vice-president can do some of the work towards our website development. I hope that people will continue to contribute what they can, although I am also budgeting my own funds so that I can keep contributing up what is necessary to get us our website in place - my own target deadline is on or before January 20, 2009.
As I have said before, the advantage of even small dollar donations - assuming they come with sufficient frequency - is that having cash flow expedites every step of the process. I am a salaried person, so my own contributions come as I earn them - pooling what I can give right now with what others can give has made it possible to hire first rate talent when it should be hired; pooling my personal labor with that of others has made it possible to expedite different aspects of the start up process. Which brings me to the logo development effort. A number of people have sent in comments and created graphics. I have been facilitating a dialogue between those who have offered concrete design ideas and taken the time, in several cases, to send me a graphic or a sketch. One very helpful contributor suggested some guidelines for consideration:
The logo should be able to capable of being rendered well in many media, including: small size on the web, black and white print, etc...;
it should be easily recognizable;
it should convey a sense of the proportion "51%"; and
it should be Strong! Bold! but very simple...
The first prototype is here and I still would like feedback and ideas related to it. Another approach is illustrated below. (Interestingly the person who sent the prototype below is not the same person who submitted the guidelines, despite the convergence in thinking.)
This logo, like the first one is a beta-version but it is copyrighted, with all rights reserved to 51 Percent. Please send feedback or ideas.
And if you have $5.10 or $510.00 or any amount in between or beyond, you can either send a check payable to 51 Percent to 2118 Bancroft Place NW, Washington DC 2008 (your canceled check will serve as a receipt for tax purposes if you are eligible for the deduction (you have to get your own accountant's advice on this)) or show your support by contributing to this blog: