I support Richard Dawkins Foundation, but …

I wrote about my concerns for the Out Campaign (site here ) in a blog a month ago after Dawkins had assured me via twitter the Out Campaign was fine. Having e mailed the Out Campaign my concerns and had no reply felt I needed to readdress this in the light of his foundation asking for donations. I write this as someone who has volunteered both on the website and at conferences in the past. I enjoyed those experiences, and have no axe to grind having stopped being a moderator due to other commitments before the forum was wound up.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science are asking for donations. Among the things that funds are to help with:

We have made strenuous efforts to increase our worldwide presence by completely redesigning our already successful website. Our expert web team has created a website that can grow to meet the needs of what we hope will be a rising tide of atheism and secularism in the future. Our team is taking advantage of new developments in technology, as well as popular social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Great except see how they are using twitter for the Out Campaign:

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No tweets in about three years.

We will continue growing the OUT Campaign, supporting child care for national conferences, assisting student and local organizations to raise money, and working with national groups on conferences and joint objectives such as the Reason Rally.

It mentions grass roots, but the blog roll has not been updated for 11 months:

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Featured sites for two years:

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And the story feed is nearly three years out of date:

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The links to the relevant part of the Out Campaign site can be found in the previous blog here.

We are developing parallel websites for specific populations, such as ex-Muslims, secular families, African Americans, Latinos, Women, LGBT and others. Our Spanish site will be the first of our foreign language sites to be launched. It will not only translate articles from the RDFRS website, but will host articles and discussions about issues specific to the Spanish speaking world.

In 2008 the idea was to have volunteers with linguistic abilities to help out RDFRS. On the old website here

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So nearly five years later the RDFRS is going to actually deliver on the idea of having the website and RDFRS material in foreign languages.

What I am getting at is not the lack of funds, but leadership in ensuring that the Out Campaign site is up to date. When Dawkins is personally involved these things may work better; but he did not seem to know the free speech (with respect to fellow posters) that reigned on the forum part of the site that bared his name for sometime. Looking at the site I am concerned that these things are not running smoothly because no one is watching, or caring to run them properly.

The idea that RDFRS can be an umbrella like organisation for secular activity when they cannot organise the Out Campaign website for years suggests more than money is the issue. You do need the right people ensuring things happen, and run things. If the aim is to help get key speakers involved for other societies campaigns, and help with the cost of training/activism of grassroots even better.

Like those loyal volunteers on the forum website who were suddenly told their services were no longer needed having given hours day in day out for months for free making an online community a reality for the Dawkins website.

I hope to get answers to these questions, because silence is never that reassuring. Above all I want to see the Out Campaign really doing things on a regular basis with a website that shows that off, updated on a regular basis. If funding will be made available for that with new donations great.

Thing is that should already have been happening. Which makes me think for grass root activism look to local and national secular and humanist organisations with an active track record to financially support. Support RDFRS for the headline grabbing attention they can do and speakers they can put into the field by all means, and what is the main website to go to for freethinkers.

After five years RDFRS should have already been leading on supporting grassroots activism. That time has been a missed opportunity. Increasingly I have looked to organisations like the British Humanist Association and the Council of Ex Muslims as having talented and above all active people at the top getting involved with the day to day as well as the big picture, so things happen.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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