Fusion Energy League: Vision, Plan, Financing FAQs
- What are our goals?
- What is our strategy?
- How ambitious! Why don’t we scale back?
- How much will the Fusion Energy League plan cost?
- Can we get a social media website for $2,500?
- Can we open source it and get everything done for free?
- Can we just make a viral video and take care of this?
- Do we finance fusion research?
- Aren’t other organizations already doing the work we do?
- As a startup, how do we know this will be effective?
- Why “Financing”, why not “Fundraising”?
- If we’re “Financing” does that mean we only talk to big bankers?
- Why don’t we just get celebrities and billionaires to fund this?
- I want to contribute to the financing of this organization! Where do I sign up?
What are our goals?
We are tackling FUSION! One of the most difficult challenges known to man. This isn’t just about the end product of fusion energy, it’s about the process, how we will grow, change and relate as human beings along the way. Our goals are:
To Release Energy. We bring people together to bring nuclei together. This releases tremendous energy in two ways: electrical energy from nuclear fusion; creative energy from people fusion.
To Reveal Roles and Enrich Relationships. It’s up to scientists to run the experiments which will one day liberate fusion energy. It’s up to other human beings (that’s us!) to create a pro-fusion environment that enables the scientists to get their job done. We want everyone to discover and do their part to make fusion happen, and to bond over the process.
To Interrogate Reality and Provoke Learning. There is so much to learn: about fusion (what is the best way to make it happen?); about financing (can it be leveraged?); about ourselves and what we’re capable of. Electric currency, financial currency, social currency: how does it all come together?
To Empower. In sum, the Fusion Energy League seeks to empower people on many levels, and in the process, to be a part of and bear witness to the development of fusion.
What is Our Strategy
Our strategy has been evolving over time based on conversations with many people within and without the fusion community. Your feedback is welcome! If you can, please include a generous donation along with your feedback so that we have the means to implement your suggestions. Join the Board to have an even greater impact.
The essence of the strategy is as follows.
- Get Financed. We’ve set up this website to attract feedback, buy-in and finance. Once we raise funds, we can carry out the following.
- Transform this website into a powerful, dynamic, user friendly web platform. The site you see is the labor of one person with basic web skills (and access to the embedded capital of a great internet community, tools and feedback). Imagine what can be done when we bring in the pros and upgrade to best online social collaborative media features and practices. We want the most robust platform possible to enable the subsequent steps. Indeed, some of our ideas will require advanced efforts.
- Recruit and build the pro-fusion team Outreach time! We want to connect with the people with whom the fusion quest resonates, including those who don’t realize it yet. We will gather partners, members, volunteers, thinkers, writers, professionals, celebrities, chefs… This is the part where we meet and talk to a LOT of people. Where we face the sting of rejection or the thrill of connection, seeing that spark light up as people GET fusion. Social media, doing lunch, crashing conferences, podcasts: there are many venues for outreach. Systematic strategy pending and will include conducting baseline and followup surveys which are themselves useful outreach tools.
- Ignite the fusion conversation. This is the part where we hold up a mirror. We look at ourselves as human beings, as a civilization, and we ask, Who are we? What are we capable of? Can we accomplish fusion? Is it our will to do so? What do we fear? What do we hope? What can I, You, that random guy over there, do to expedite fusion? We will launch fierce fusion conversations, focus on creating a pro research ethic, and experiment with and develop different ways to ignite fusion passion (for example, the “Fusion League” meme itself is an experiment).
- Clarify the fusion science picture. This is about seeing what information exists, dialoging on ways to make that information useful to scientists, investors and the public, and developing tools and materials based on this. Dialogue will take place within the fusion community (with our fellow fusion organizations and fusion researchers) as well as without (people with insight into “perceptual, cognitive, and social factors involved in making sense of large data collections” who can develop “novel interactive systems for visual analysis and communication”). The output will be quality content on the website (fusion education and fusion experiment info, a fusion “infographics factory,” fusion in context with other energy approaches); the development of the Fusion Experiment Tracker and more. This will be done in an integrated manner. We don’t want to add to a glut of information, but rather make this information streamlined and truly useful.
- Clarify the fusion finance picture. Fusion research is underfunded. We will bring people together to provide fusion researchers with the broadest possible funding base; to make the case for funding a diversified, “multi-target” approach to fusion; and to provide a broader range of people and organizations the opportunity to make a difference in financing our fusion future. See Fusion Finance Conversation.
- Connect fusion with heart, soul and daily life. Also known as the “Pro Fusion Culture Campaign” This is where we infuse every part of culture with fusion energy. How does your passion overlap with fusion? This is also the part where we have a lot of fun. Areas of action include: Games & Apps, Story, Food, Consumer Products, Theology.
How ambitious! Why don’t we scale back?
Fusion deserves no less.
The challenge is to scale UP to the vision. This is why we need financing, and are developing our strategic and revenue plans. Join the Board to help guide the process!
A revenue plan, unlike a traditional fundraising plan, is an integrated, thoughtful, and strategic way to help a nonprofit achieve social impact in a more sustainable way. The revenue plan is a key element of a nonprofit’s strategic plan. It is critical that an organization understand the cost of achieving the goals set out in the strategic plan (expenses) and how it will pay for them (revenue).
How much will the Fusion Energy League plan cost?
Our budget will be broken down (and fundable) in phases.
The budget for the startup phase of our organization includes the salaries of core employees, strategic plan development, initial marketing consult, the cost of the web platform and the first version of the fusion experiment tracker. It is estimated at $500,000. Salaries are based on the “Opportunity Knocks Nonprofit Guide to Wages and Benefits.”
In subsequent phases, we will build up the program areas (specific budgets TBD).
Once our full set of programs are operational, we estimate our annual operating budget to be around $2 million. This estimate is based on looking up the 990 forms of lookalike organizations. Form 990 is an annual reporting return that tax-exempt nonprofit organizations must file with the IRS. It provides detailed information on the organization’s mission, programs, and finances.
“Lookalikes” in this case are nonprofits that are doing work similar in scope and manner to what we plan to do. One model for our organization is Do Something, Inc. which has 25 employees with an annual operating budget of $2Million.
We will seek financing from many sources, as it is important to have a broad base of revenue.
In the process of raising funds, we will be educating people about fusion and their potential to make a difference in it. We will be getting feedback about our message and strategy and improving both. We will also be building networks and uncovering ways for donors to incorporate fusion support into their present energy and environment strategies.
Do you have experience in estimating expenses for a visionary startup? Join the Board! Sign up for the budget committee to help us create the reasonable, necessary, adequate budget for our mission.
Can we get a social media website for $2,500?
This sounds like Bowfinger Syndrome.
If you know someone who can deliver our social media platform vision for $2,500, who does excellent work, and will be reliable through to the end of the process, please contact us! Otherwise, we are still planning to raise money based on research into reasonable costs for this type of work.
Can we open source it and get everything done for free?
Free, as in, “Free Kittens”?
Our platform actively includes an open source dimension. We are setting it up to facilitate broad public participation, content creation and collaboration. The financing we seek is for setting up such a platform, and for having a core group of people that facilitate the broader outreach. Even Wikipedia, the ultimate open source platform has an annual operating budget of $16 Million for the core work required to keep that going.
Note that we don’t look at open source activities and contributions from the public as “free”. We see it as sweat equity, donated intellectual capital, people investing in their own future. Just because this type of work is not accounted for in a financial ledger doesn’t mean it can be discounted.
Likewise, we don’t expect fusion researchers to conduct fusion research for free. It doesn’t make sense to have nonprofit employees that build public support for their work to do so without being able to earn a living.
Can we just make a viral video and take care of this?
Things go viral because people want to have an excuse to share with each other, not because they want to catch a virus. For a “viral campaign” to work, it needs to be backed up by a platform that is there to capture any ignited passion.
A case in point is the Kony 2012 video that went viral. This video was made by Invisible Children, Inc., a nonprofit organization established in 2004, which had an operating budget of $13 Million last year. In other words, this viral “overnight success” was backed by an organization several years and several million dollars in the making.
For this reason, we are designing our platform to include the capacity to:
- Foster video-making on behalf of fusion in the hopes that some of them go viral; and
- more importantly, to be set up to catch the energy that comes from a viral incident and turn it into constructive and effective action on behalf of fusion.
Do we finance fusion research?
We don’t finance research ourselves. One of our key programs is to facilitate conversations about financing fusion, with the goal of increasing the funding available for fusion.
Having the “Fusion Financing Conversation” itself requires financing.
It takes concerted effort, time and dedication to engage in outreach, networking, meeting, hosting and convening the events that will move this program area along and have an impact on fusion financing.
Aren’t other organizations already doing the work we do?
There are several excellent organizations advocating for fusion. Our work is complementary to theirs. If these organizations resonate with you, please support them! Fusion research is underfunded, and fusion outreach is likewise underfunded.
In an informal sense, all of these organizations together comprise the League. We are working to formalize this and to better coordinate with other players for greater effectiveness all around.
That said, we’re by far the coolest of the fusion organizations. Our strength is in our comprehensive, creative, progressive vision, our gleeful embrace of culture and social media, and our presumption to set up a “League.” Also, we are about ownership of the fusion endeavor. This is mankind’s greatest quest! Everyone has a role in it. Do you see the possibilities? Let’s get busy!
As a startup, how do we know this will be effective?
Our strategy comes out of research into other successful organizations, as well as conversations with a broad cross section of people from within and without the fusion community to identify gaps and opportunities.
In a sense, we are going into this with a great theory about how a nonprofit can work to achieve certain goals. At the end of the day, theory can only be validated in the field. There’s a parallel here with fusion research. Many ideas are in proof of concept stage and require validation via experiment. And if the experiment is not validated per se, it adds to overall fusion knowledge and will lead to a better idea down the line. Likewise, we expect our organization to evolve and change as some of the things we try will work better than others.
Why “Financing”, why not “Fundraising”?
The Nonprofit sector is traditionally associated with “Fundraising”, but:
Fundraising in its current form just doesn’t work anymore. Indeed, traditional fundraising is holding the sector back by keeping nonprofits in the starvation cycle of trying to do more and more with less and less. Really, what the sector needs is a financing strategy, not a fundraising strategy. By that I mean that nonprofits have to break out of the narrow view that traditional FUNDRAISING (individual donor appeals, events, foundation grants) will completely fund all of their activities. Instead, nonprofits must work to create a broader approach to securing the overall FINANCING necessary to create social change. (Edgington, 2010)
Financing is about taking stock of your values, figuring out what it costs to realize those values, and allocating your resources accordingly. This requires analysis and discipline. Without this, you suffer along a disjointed, haphazard and unsustainable path.
When people donate money to a nonprofit, they are making a social investment. The difference between a nonprofit and a for profit company is that with a nonprofit, your input of cash does not come with the expectation of a cash return on investment. It comes with an expectation a social or environmental return. As a social investor, you need to appraise the organization you’re donating to.
The investment of each donor is diminished if the organization doesn’t have a solid plan in place or sufficient financing to execute it.
At present, both fusion research and fusion support suffer from counterproductive funding practices. Both types of venture require stable funding platforms to be more effective. If you don’t already, we urge you to start looking at projects around you through the lens of financing.
Develop ways to explain the value and importance of financing fusion research. Develop the case for financing other pro fusion organizations. Your ability to make the case for financing will carry over into many other ventures in your life. This is a basic skill we all need to have as people. Otherwise we discount our efforts, are frustrated, and don’t have an impact.
Future Watch: have you noticed the convergence taking place between the for profit and nonprofit sectors? We’re delighted by some of these trends. With the recent Jobs bill, crowdfunding is expanding to include investment. Meanwhile B-corporations are taking the lead in merging the for profit and nonprofit world and helping improve the case for social investing.
If we’re “Financing” does that mean we only talk to big bankers?
Financing is about broadening and diversifying sources of revenue. There are many ways to support and finance this venture, including individual donations at different levels. Crowdfunding can be seen as the ultimate in portfolio diversification.
Why don’t we just get celebrities and billionaires to fund this?
If you know any, please tell them about us! We certainly hope to attract them to our cause. On a practical note, before we can bring foundations, celebrities and billionaires on board, we need to make the case that this is something that needs to happen, that it is well thought out, and that the community of people it is meant to be about is on board with it.
We thus encourage you, especially if you are a member of the fusion community, to become vocal on the site as well as donate to the venture. It will be your pledges of ten dollars, a hundred dollars, a thousand dollars that will make the case that the fusion community wants this to happen and welcomes public/celebrity/billionaire support.
More valuable than your donation is your story. Tell your story to help the rest of us see the value of fusion. Why have you chosen to spend your life tackling fusion? What drives you? Let it drive the rest of us.
I want to contribute to the financing of this organization! Where do I sign up?
Thank you! We’re so glad you asked. Right this way to donate!