The rapid adoption of digital tools for social and political action has resulted in a complicated new sphere we refer to as “digital civil society”. Digital civil society includes all the ways people and organizations voluntarily use private resources for public benefit in a digital age.
We see digital civil society emerging at the intersection of several domains: nonprofits, associations, and philanthropy; market solutions for social good; political action; and digital data and infrastructure.
These once-distinct spheres now overlap in ways that require the invention of a new framework rooted in the unique characteristics of digital resources and the unique values of civil society. The Lab envisions an independent civil society that thrives through the safe, ethical and effective use of private digital resources for public benefit.
The Digital Civil Society Lab investigates the challenges and opportunities facing civil society organizations in the digital age, and develops resources to help organizations use digital resources safely, ethically and effectively.
The Digital Civil Society Lab aims to shape the future of civil society globally by fostering the creation of new mechanisms for using, governing, and donating digital assets for public benefit. The Lab is part of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) and is led by Lucy Bernholz, senior research scholar at Stanford PACS, and Rob Reich, faculty co-director of Stanford PACS.
For scholars and academics, the Lab hosts workshops, conducts and publishes research, supports university student networks, and offers postdoctoral and non-resident fellowships. For practitioners and policymakers, the Lab runs the Digital Impact program (formerly Markets for Good), a suite of tools and resources for civil society organizations including a blog, grant program, data governance toolkit, and conferences.