Membership database crowdfunding


As I’m sure you’re all aware, the Party has been crowdfunding to cover the development cost of our new membership database software that we’ve been long overdue to introduce. We’re about 14 days away from the deadline and a little under half way there, so if you could contribute anything, that’d be great!

Pozible campaign link

Get you some sweet swag and contribute to the sustainability of the Party. :smile:

I’d be happy to answer any technical questions that you may have.

I’m on the line about donating to it. I want to support the party but if I did it, it would be more for the swag than anything. When the party is so small that we can’t afford this much right out of party funds, I think that $10,000 would be better spent on putting out candidates and find a lower cost solution which isn’t as good.

I don’t care about helping other political parties. If they are interested, they can donate towards it, but I don’t feel a sense of duty to help them out.

Obviously there must be shortcomings with the existing systems, what are they and how much extra time is this taking up? Try to sell to me

A fair statement. I can’t speak on behalf of the National Council, as I am merely the “technical lead” on this project, so I can only go to the technical reasons for this decision.

I would note that the $10,000 has already been spent on the project, and this information has been relayed to the Party in at least two mailouts as far as I am aware.

I understand that $10k seems like a lot of money, but in development terms, it is a drop in the bucket. The underlying development costs have been valued at over $100k for the amount of time and number of developers that ThoughtWorks spent on the project (which was about 8 weeks).

The current system we use is something I hacked together many years ago while Secretary. While secure, it has no web frontend. Makes it difficult to use for people who aren’t programmers comfortable with a Linux command line. All it does is accept members and generate invoices; I never had the time to extend it further. We have no capacity to renew members, which is a major source of revenue for the Party. It has however made it extremely easy to deal with changing circumstances, like membership audits made necessary by the AEC’s procedures.

We trialled many off-the-shelf systems over the years. CiviCRM was always the most prominent and promising, however it always failed us. We tried the most recent version, and the day we set up a test server, it was owned by a 0day bug in Drupal and hijacked by a bot. Not a good sign when security is a high priority.

NationBuilder is not an option for us as it would require trusting an American corporation with our membership data. Nope.jpg. Recently someone proposed software that I hadn’t been made aware of before the tender process, called Tendenci. I’ve reviewed it since, and while it is very feature-rich, it doesn’t seem to place a lot of emphasis on security or testing.

Assuming for a moment however that we did use off-the-shelf software as opposed to developing our own, we would need to customise it to suit our needs. Customisation has a heavy maintenance burden. The more you customise the software, the more likely you have rewrite those features the next time a major update comes out for that software. You become beholden to the organisation behind it, with limited control.

We need to be able to audit new members for accuracy of data. We need to be able to log all actions taken with the data to ensure “volunteers” aren’t trying to syphon data out on the sly and sell it for profit (this has been attempted once before!). We need members to be able to largely be in control over their own membership record to ensure it’s always up to date.

We need a system that can be trusted to do its task with as limited risk as possible. Mandating two-factor authentication for administration users is a major step to limiting the capacity for data leaks.

We have over a thousand members. If even half of those renew their membership once this server goes up at $20, we recover the $10,000.

It isn’t so much about them as all of us. We need a community effort behind any project to ensure its success. The open licensing builds trust around the project and allows a community effort to develop it going forward, lowering the maintenance burden for everyone.

I’d prefer more dev hands on deck than cash in hand, as I’m developing this to production-grade for free at this point.

I’m not sure that covers off everything you asked, but if you have more questions, feel free to ask.


Not technical so much. Can you direct me to a discussion on the membersdb decision process please?

We agreed to the Tender months before it looked like a Double Dissolution election. The timing sucks, but we can’t control election timing. We had to pay the bill or we would risk the good name of the Party and won’t be able to get work done for us in the future without cash up front.

The first thing the new software will facilitate is collecting membership fees. If every member paid $10 we would have $15,000 pretty quickly (it will most likely remain pay what you want, so that would be a ball-park guess). This will fix our finances long term and put us in a much better position going forward.

We will be able to target announcements to specific members (which will mostly be state specific information) and it will help with volunteer coordination.

It was discussed in many meetings, I will link all the relevant minutes below.

The tender content itself is here:

The motion to approve the final tender was held over email and minuted in the January 6 meeting of the National Council.

We received two submissions and the ThoughtWorks application was the only one that came in around budget. We fielded a few more inquiries from interested Parties, who I assume decided we wanted too much and were willing to pay too little.

1 Like

Thanks for the info. I didn’t realise that it’s already been done and now we’re just trying to pay the bill.

I can definitely see the shortcomings… I signed up as a member a while ago, and haven’t heard anything from the party since.

Last time I checked discussions were being done by mailgroups, which no offense to FOSS but it’s quite a clunky to use. At least this forum software is very good, but I only found it the other day, which I only looked up myself because of election talk. I would certainly have been more active if I was kept in the loop.

I will make a small pledge shortly

Any indication that parties have donated towards the software yet? If the goal is not reached do the donations still go through? If funding doesn’t go through, it will just come from or dues anyway?

I just hope the software is good enough to scale us into becoming a major party. No offense to the Greens but I think PPAU has the potential to become the 3rd most popular option, maybe more one day.

1 Like

Here is the text of an explanation email sent to the Announce list:

Since its launch, we have received some criticism and questions relating to our membership database crowdfunding campaign. These have mostly related to our decision to have the membership management software built from scratch rather than re-use existing tools. We have also received criticism relating to our communication of the process and tender for the contract to create the software.

I would like to apologise for any lack of communication in relation to the tender process. We had been looking for an adequate replacement to our current management system for several years and nothing that met our needs was found (details are below). Having no means to collect annual membership fees, the Pirate Party has been relying on a steady stream of new members, donations and fundraising campaigns to finance operating and election costs. Given the Party’s aim of expanding its reach in the current political landscape and reducing internal bureaucracy, having no reliable revenue stream is untenable. The National Council approached communication with the best interest of the Party in mind, but admits falling short of the standard expected by members.

A tender process was launched and we received several offers. The only offer meeting our criteria was from ThoughtWorks.

An explanation of the technical issues around the current membership system as well as the anatomy of the decision-making process are both explained in this Discuss post: Membership database crowdfunding. In essence, all existing systems that were tested over the last couple of years had serious shortcomings and did not offer the range of required features and security that we need as a political party, especially one so serious about protecting privacy.

Fundraising takes time and energy that would be better spent on campaigning. Once the new database is running we will immediately be able to collect membership renewals, as well as reduce the amount of effort needed to deal with the Australian Electoral Commission’s red tape. The National Council is currently discussing membership fees and if each member paid the $10 concession rate we are considering, we would not only make back the $10,000 we would have an extra $5,000 in the bank.

From the point of view of the Party’s financial sustainability, this will be a huge boost and allow us to expand beyond our current capacity without relying as heavily on crowdfunding. This was discussed prior to the last National Congress, and while it has taken longer than hoped, it allows the party to mature and move forward in ways currently not possible. This will provide financial stability for the party for the next and following elections, as well as simplify the formation of state branches.

When we decided to run the tender process, we expected an election in September at the earliest; there hasn’t been a double dissolution election for 29 years, so we viewed it as a very minor risk. We would have had plenty of time to set up the new database and collect fees had this gone according to plan. That said, we should still be able to raise funds to compete in the election, the timing will just be much tighter than we expected. To supplement this, we set up the Pozible crowdfunding campaign to try and make sure we aren’t going to be worse off when we compete in this year’s election.

As it stands, our attention has shifted to the now upcoming election. We have held strategy meetings for this and the call has been put out for people to run in the election. Voting on nominees will be held in due course and volunteers are being asked to assist with the process as well as during electioneering. The MemberDB system is looking to be ready in the next few weeks. Between crowdfunding sources and membership renewals it will give us enough budget to run candidates. In future, membership renewals will allow us to expand the party beyond its current capacity. The MemberDB system can be seen as an investment in the future of the party to make sure it is sustainable and does not fall by the wayside while fighting for our rights.

If you were on the fence about donating, now is the time to help! The system won’t just help the party but other organisations beat bureaucracy and help share our message. Donations will go straight to the Party and help with our election planning. To donate, go to If you’re interested as running for a candidate in the party, the deadline to nominate is the 25th of April. Requirements are at The election planning committee meets on IRC with dates posted to the Pirate Party mailing list. To join, sign up at

With further eroding civil and digital liberties, increased surveillance and no real policies from the major parties, now has never been a better time to stand with the Pirate Party to fight for our rights and our future.

1 Like