Introduction

The Internet Society Foundation believes the Internet can make a positive difference for people everywhere—as a resource that enriches people’s lives. We champion the use of the network and its ability to bring communities better education, healthcare and economic opportunity. We believe that by working together, we can use the Internet to shape a better future for us all.

About a third of the world is not yet connected to the Internet, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Of that group, the majority live in underserved urban, rural, and remote communities. The unconnected miss out on the critical benefits of the Internet, such as the ability to learn, collaborate, and participate in local and global economies. It is this group of people, the underserved and unserved in both rural and urban areas around the world, that we are committed to supporting through our work.  

As the philanthropic arm of the Internet Society Foundation, our efforts enable communities around the world to enrich their lives through the Internet. We’ve expanded Internet access to those who need it, helped build Internet resiliency, promoted digital inclusion, supported a safe Internet, and enabled important research on the future and sustainability of the Internet, to ensure it remains a positive force for people and planet.  

This Philanthropy Plan maps our way forward for 2024, our fifth operational year, as we continue to grow our work and deepen our commitment to providing meaningful access to an open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone. 

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Vision

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Mission

The Internet
is for everyone.

 

 

The Internet Society Foundation champions ideas and enables communities to unlock the Internet’s potential to tackle the world’s evolving challenges.

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Philanthropy Plan Objectives

Measures for these objectives can be found later in this plan.

Commit at least
$12 million

in order to expand Internet access to those who need it, help build Internet resiliency, promote digital inclusion,  support a safe Internet, and enable research on the future and sustainability of the Internet.

 

Successfully execute all components of grantmaking operations

including technical builds, program launches, and grants management for the Foundation’s 2024 grant portfolio, while demonstrating operational excellence and implementing effective project management to oversee Philanthropy budgets and projects.

Promote
cross learning

collaboration and implementation of best practices across Programs.

Increase awareness
of the Foundation

among key target audiences and provide a pipeline of content and stories where needed to support Internet Society's fundraising activities.

Funding Areas Overview

The Foundation will operate 12 funding areas in 2024, providing grants to Internet Society chapters as well as organizations and individuals around the world. All programs will focus on growing the Internet and/or making it stronger in keeping with the focus of the Internet Society. As in past years, the Philanthropy Team will continue to fund Internet Governance Forums (IGFs) as well as Schools of Internet Governance, and will provide funding to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) LLC.

Collaboration will remain central to our way of working, and we will continue to partner closely with our Internet Society colleagues to effectively manage the following grant programs in 2024: Chapter Admin, Connecting the Unconnected, Encryption, Sustainable Peering Infrastructure, and Sustainable Technical Communities.  

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Three girls use a computer aided by a man

2024 Direction

Programs 

Looking ahead to 2024, our funding will continue to expand Internet access to those who need it, help build Internet resiliency, promote digital inclusion, support a safe Internet, and enable important research on the future and sustainability of the Internet.

Expanding Internet Access, Connectivity, Resiliency, and Safety

We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to connect to a strong, resilient, and safe Internet and experience its positive benefits. Our 2024 Funding Areas that support these goals include:

  • Beyond the Net
  • BOLT
  • Connecting the Unconnected
  • Encryption
  • Resiliency
  • Sustainable Peering Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Technical Communities
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Beyond the Net

The Beyond the Net team will continue to build strong relationships with the Internet Society chapters, Chapter Engagement Managers, and the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) team to support the most successful proposals from the chapters. 2024 priorities include:

  • Increase individual reach-outs and provide more hands-on training opportunities on grant writing and project management.
  • Identify at least two priority areas for grantmaking.
  • Increase available grant funds in 2024 in response to increased demand in requests. 
  • This increased demand is a result of our efforts to help chapters understand the goals of the Beyond the Net program and submit stronger proposals.
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Building Opportunities and Leveraging Technology (BOLT)

From expanding low-cost Internet connectivity in low-income communities in the U.S. to building self-managed community learning centers powered with Internet among indigenous communities in Colombia, the BOLT program continues to support innovative projects that expand connectivity for all. In 2024, the BOLT program will continue to empower innovative, locally-focused  connectivity solutions to bring more Internet access to the world.

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Connecting the Unconnected

The Connecting the Unconnected funding program supports communities and local organizations working to build and expand Internet infrastructure to connect people living in rural, remote, and low-income areas. This includes initiatives such as community networks, municipal networks, cooperatives, and other forms of complementary access solutions. In 2024, we will continue to fund connectivity projects that seek to grow the Internet to reach rural, isolated, and low-income areas in all regions of the world.

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Encryption

The Encryption micro-grants provide funding for projects that promote strong encryption, a fundamental part of how we remain safe online and offline. In 2024, as in 2023, the Internet Society Foundation, in partnership with the Internet Society, will distribute 50 grants to members of the Global Encryption Coalition for activities in relation to Global Encryption Day.

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Resiliency

From supporting partners to rapidly deploy emergency communications trailers in disaster zones in the U.S., to training regional responders in the Asia Pacific region to deploy telecommunications/networking equipment by themselves to local communities impacted by natural disasters, the Foundation’s Resiliency Program supports projects that increase network resiliency in communities prone to natural disasters. By doing so, we help communities better prepare for and withstand the effects of natural disasters on Internet connectivity. In 2024, we will continue to fund innovative projects to help improve network resiliency in the face of natural disasters and climate-related disasters.

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Sustainable Peering Infrastructure

The Sustainable Peering Infrastructure funding program provides funding to local communities to build Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in markets where they are needed, level up existing IXPs to realize their full potential, and further develop regional organizations and communities that support peering and interconnection. In 2024 we will continue to provide grant funds to assist in training, capacity building, community development, and equipment purchases (switches, optic modules, servers, and routers).

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Sustainable Technical Communities

The Sustainable Technical Communities funding program supports the organization of technical events, in order to enable strong and sustainable technical communities, the people who build and maintain the Internet infrastructure that connects so many.

A shopkeeper behind the counter in Colombia

Promoting Digital Inclusion

Once connected, we believe people should be equipped with the skills they need to use the Internet in a productive way that enriches their lives. Our Strengthening Communities, Improving Lives and Livelihoods Program (SCILLS) program was launched in 2020 to support this goal.

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SCILLS

Looking to 2024, the SCILLS program will build deeper communities of practice within the current grantee cohort. This will be done through webinars and sharing resources between grantees by subject-matter area and geography. The intent will be to build stronger relationships between grantees and allow for more real-time problem solving. We are also planning to conduct a case study analysis of the impact SCILLS has had on the educational ecosystem of Bangladesh in partnership with the MEL team and an external consultant.

Finally, we will work with existing grantees and invite new applicants that we have identified to be eligible for funding through the Landscape Analysis work the Philanthropy Team plans to undertake.

Enabling Research on the Future of the Internet

We believe that research about the Internet and its relationship to society is necessary to help shape a more equitable and sustainable future for the Internet and the people it serves. Our Research program was launched in 2020 to support this goal, and to date has supported independent researchers and research institutions around the world in support of expanding our applied knowledge of the Internet.

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Research

Going into 2024, the program will review and update its thematic areas (Decolonizing the Internet, Greening the Internet, The Internet Economy and A Trustworthy Internet), as well as update its future funding target as the team strategizes how best to shape the program moving forward. This analysis will be done with the support of an external evaluator to examine the impact of this program with its 30+ grantees to date.

Supporting Internet Governance

We are committed to encouraging an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue on policy issues related to Internet governance, as well as ensuring that diverse actors have the skills to participate in Internet governance structures and shape the future of the Internet. Our Internet Governance Forums (IGFs) and Schools of Internet Governance (SIGs) programs support these two aims.

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Internet Governance Forums and Schools
of Internet Governance

In 2024, the Philanthropy Team will continue to provide funding to those who are eligible to manage and successfully implement a national, or regional IGF or School of Internet Governance (SIG). For national and regional IGFs, the Foundation will continue its practice to fund only those events that are officially recognized by the United Nations (UN) Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Secretariat or verified by the UN IGF Secretariat to be eligible for official recognition.

Supporting Chapter Admin and IETF

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Chapter Admin

The Chapter Admin Funding program offers annual funding to support Internet Society chapters to manage their day-to-day activities and to maximize their effectiveness. 2024 will mark the first year that these funds will be administered by the Philanthropy Team. We have been and will continue working diligently with the Community Engagement Manager Team at the Internet Society to design how this program will run.

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Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

In 2024, the Foundation will continue to support the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) by providing funds to IETF Administration LLC. The IETF is the leading Internet standards body. It develops open standards through open processes with one goal in mind: to make the Internet work better. 

The IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC) provides the corporate legal home for the IETF, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF). The responsibilities of the IETF LLC include: supporting the ongoing operations of the IETF, including meetings and non-meeting activities; managing the IETF’s finances and budget; raising money on behalf of the IETF, and establishing and enforcing policies. The IETF LLC is managed by the IETF Executive Director who is overseen by the IETF LLC Board of Directors.

The IETF will receive funding from the Foundation in 2024 as a pre-determined payment. The details are found here. 

The Internet Society Foundation team

2024 Direction

Functions

Communications

Increasing awareness of the Foundation among key stakeholders (potential applicants, applicants, grantees, and future partners) remains critical to our success and growth. In 2024, our communications activities will continue to drive growth in four key areas: website traffic, social media reach, newsletter subscriptions, and earned media opportunities. Recognizing that the evolution and growth of our portfolio provides more opportunities to increase storytelling, we will invest additional resources in 2024 to help increase the volume and quality of our video storytelling, and share these stories as needed to support fundraising activities across Internet Society/ Internet Society Foundation

As was done in 2023, the Philanthropy Communications team will develop and implement a digital marketing plan that includes paid social media and online advertising. The team will continue to enhance the Foundation website, ensuring it remains a vibrant, easy-to-use, and accessible platform for all users.  Lastly, we will continue to conduct targeted media outreach about the Foundation’s work as well as seek sponsorship opportunities that can increase our brand awareness. 

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Operations

Building on the initial steps taken in Q4 of 2023, in 2024 Operations will fully operationalize a Grants Management function to oversee the entire grant portfolio, in order to accommodate the growth and evolution of the Foundation’s Philanthropy division. Establishing a separate Grants Management function is essential to ensure efficiency, transparency, risk mitigation, compliance, and adaptability in the Foundation’s grantmaking. The Grants Management team will work in close collaboration with the Programs team, and the Finance and Legal teams to streamline grantmaking administration and operations for the Foundation’s Philanthropy division.

With a view to strengthen our planning and budgeting processes, in 2024, the Operations team will step into a larger project and budget management role for the entire Philanthropy division which will increase collaboration and cohesiveness between teams and keep Philanthropy deliverables on track. The Operations team will also be fully developing the new Grantelligence feature in our Fluxx grants management system to have the capacity to utilize data to produce dynamic visualizations, analytics, and reporting, in order to serve the various needs of internal and external stakeholders. In 2024, Operations will work closely with various Philanthropy functions to build visualizations to create customized data-driven dashboards with the aim to have them fully operational by the 2nd quarter of 2024.

Constructing a dedicated Grants Management function, strengthening project and budget management processes, and incorporating Grantelligence in our Fluxx grants management system will enable the Operations team to meet the growing demands of the Philanthropy division as its grantmaking operations evolve.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL)

In 2024, the MEL team will continue to build and promote cross learning, collaboration and implementation of best practices using a clear menu of services as outlined below:

  • Develop and implement learning agendas with the Programs teams.
  • Work with Programs teams to identify strategic learning needs and provide hands on support in meeting those needs.
  • Help grow staff capacity to engage in, design and facilitate strategic learning through internal training.
  • Monitor grant progress and design third party evaluations with Program Officers.
  • Facilitate conversations to evaluate and refine strategies and produce Learning summaries as relevant.
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Engaging our Grantees

We recognize that our work will be more successful if guided by our grantees’ expertise and experience. To that end, we are committed to employing an inclusive, participatory and trust-based approach to our operational and programmatic strategy.

For 2024, we plan to continue grantee visits as well as informational sessions, learning webinars, technical tutorials, reflection and learning calls, and targeted grantee outreach. Efforts will be made to encourage cross-grantee learning through communities of practice, introductions to expand their networks, and thematic roundtable discussions across programs to introduce grantee partners to each other. In addition, the Communications team will highlight and amplify the work of the grantees on a global stage and across our platforms.

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Measuring our Success

These measurements will help us determine our success in 2024 and tie back to the objectives mentioned earlier in this document:

1.

At least $12 million committed in funding across our portfolio in order to expand Internet access to those who need it, help build Internet resiliency, promote digital inclusion, support a safe Internet, and enable research on the future and sustainability of the Internet.

2.

All programs launched successfully in Fluxx grants management system; Grants Management function and Grantelligence fully operationalized; and Philanthropy project management activities including budget oversight, annual planning, and development of staff resources completed.

3.

Internal cross learning, collaboration and implementation of best practices across Programs is promoted by: completing two comprehensive program evaluations for our Research & SCILLS programs, conducting two internal MEL trainings with the Programs team, and launching one grantee survey.

 

 

 

4.

Awareness of the Foundation and its opportunities among key target audiences is increased, (as measured by performance on our digital platforms), and at least three stories shared in 2024 to support Internet Society's fundraising activities.

• Website traffic –
increase website traffic by 25%
• Social media reach
– reach 40,000 followers
• Newsletter subscriptions
– grow subscription list by 30%

Budget

The Foundation 2024 operating budget includes funding for the following activities, in addition to Philanthropy: Content, Marketing & Communications, Empowerment (including Learning@ISOC), Fundraising and Grantmaking administration. The budget also includes the annual contribution from Public Interest Registry (PIR), other personnel and operating costs; as well as Board Designated Funds to support our program awards. All costs in the budget support the growth, reach and impact of the Foundation and the Internet Society.

2024 Budget
Unrestricted
Revenue
Contribution – PIR $29,000
Expenses
Personnel Costs $11,476
Program & Operational Costs $5,101
$16,577
Net Surplus $12,423
2023 Ending Balance
(Forecast)
Additional Board
Designation
2024 Beginning
Balance
Resiliency and Responding to Emergencies (RARE) $2,300 $2,000 $4,300
Strengthening Communities, Improving Lives and Livelihoods (SCILLS) - $3,500 $3,500
Research $360 $4,500 $4,860
Beyond the Net (BtN) and Internet Governance Forums (IGF) - $1,500 $1,500
Building Opportunities and Leveraging Technologies (BOLT) $17 $3,000 $3,017
Opportunities - $1,750 $1,750
IETF - 2024 Funding - $7,000 $7,000
Paid by Society - ($3,000) ($3,000)
Total Board Designated Funds $2,677 $20,250 $22,927

Questions?

If you have questions about our programs or the application process, please email us at [email protected].