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OurSociety: Solving Economic, Political, and Social Problems with More Democracy

Free Election Campaign Platform that empowers more people to run for local leadership offices in their communities and beyond.

Photo of OurSociety Experiment
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The challenges facing global peace, prosperity, and our planet are limited not by our collective resources, but our political willpower. OurSociety's purpose is to empower the average person to take a more active role in their elected leadership at the local level and beyond by making the process easy & convenient.

OurSociety is a non-partisan, non-profit with the purpose of reducing the impact of money on our elections by removing the financial barriers associated with running for elected office. We’re accomplishing this through our Free & Open Election Campaign Platform www.oursociety.org.

Candidates have uniform profiles explaining their policies, plans, and visions in both video and article format centralized for the benefit of citizens. As we offer candidates profiles for free, we have found our platform especially attractive to candidates running in local municipal elections where corporate funding is not as plentiful and candidates who are running against deeply entrenched political opponents.

Our primary demographic for citizen users id the 35 & Under demographic. With our demographic in mind and hundreds of surveys completed our focus has always been on the user experience and making it easier and more convenient to access the information desired about candidates. For users who dislike politics we have developed our Social Value Matching, a Likert Scale matching system similar to popular dating websites - both candidates and users answer from the same pool of questions, and we provide both an aggregate match and a breakdown over 27 different categories. Our vision is that providing our users with more agency in the voting process that we will encourage them to take the effort to vote.

At its core, our product is about empowering more people from outside the current political class to run for office and obtain leadership positions. We believe that OurSociety can be a genuine catalyst for social and political change within the U.S.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Candidates have uniform profiles explaining their policies, plans, and visions in both video and article format centralized for the benefit of citizens. As we offer candidates profiles for free, we have found our platform has attracted candidates running in local municipal elections where corporate funding is not as plentiful, candidates who are running against entrenched political opponents, and Progressive candidates.

Our primary demographic for citizen users is the 35 & Under demographic. With our demographic in mind and 100s of surveys completed our focus has always been on the user experience, making it easier and more convenient to access the information desired about candidates. For users who dislike politics, we have developed our Social Value Matching, similar to popular dating websites - both candidates and users answer from the same pool of questions, and we provide an aggregate match and a breakdown over 27 different categories. Providing more agency in voting easily.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Most organizations that provide digital solutions to support civic engagement have platforms that are fairly complex platforms or so simple they do not provide any real value.

The complex platforms are targetted towards people who are already politically engaged. This misses the mark to create real change that could impact peace, prosperity, and our planet simply because the pool is too small. OurSociety focuses on unengaged users through our simplified design, centralized information based on communities, and data-driven matching algorithm to create a uniquely easy and convenient experience.

The very simple platforms simply do not provide enough value for any sort of long-term retention. OurSociety acts as a centralized database of candidates that are displayed based on geolocation, so viewers are always getting relevant information and have the opportunity to dive deeply into their local candidates to see if they align with their vision of the future.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

We're a group of volunteers who are active in our communities and genuinely believe in the change we are trying to create www.oursociety.org

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

I've been studying political philosophy and theory for a few years and believe that the next Progressive movement must be centered around institutional reformation. Initially, I intended to run for political office. However, I thought my skill set might be better suited for a project that would empower more people than just myself. OurSociety is an example of the institutional reformation that is possible with existing technology.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace, Prosperity, and Planet are all concepts that are dictated by the political will of our elected officials. Peace is influenced by international diplomacy and the energy and resource regimes used by a nation. Prosperity is a direct byproduct of economic and social policy, specifically how we define our market economy and what types of opportunities are developed or suppressed by our current legal structures. Planet is dictated by environmental policies such as investment in national parks, corporate regulations, and the drive towards renewable energies.

Our surveys and interactions are mainly within our primary demographic (35 & under) and one thing our research has taught us is that there is a very strong desire for change, but a lack of direction and information on how to get there. OurSociety is a single brick in a new foundation of how we operate in the U.S. By empowering leaders with alternative visions we are paving the way for a new society one candidate at a time

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

At the time of this writing, we have three Congressional Candidates using the platform to support their campaign. All three are Progressives with new ideas about how we approach Peace, Prosperity, and the health of our Planet. These three candidates are competing against entrenched corporate-funded candidates who would be considered staples in the Political Class. Through their engagement, they have been exposed to hundreds of local residents who have an opportunity to hear their vision despite the millions their competitors are spending on advertisements. We also just confirmed two new candidate partners who are running for local office in their towns, one of whom is a Millennial with some unique visions for her communities.

Since we are non-partisan we do not target a specific community of candidates however our volunteer partners are all from our local NJ community and all boast impressive professional resumes. Together we engage other community members and share the idea.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Our community of volunteers and platform participants have a wide variety of strengths but our main competitive advantage is that we are aligned towards the single purpose of empowering new ideas and leadership into local communities. Locally we are in a very densely populated state which allows us to access a large number of people for little investment of both time and capital. While we are local to New Jersey our vision is to expand the platform to serve other communities.

Geographic Focus

Beta - New Jersey, USA
Phase 2 - National Rollout (Conducted in regional chunks)

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

To take our beta project to completion would require 24-36 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

2 comments

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Comment
Photo of Erin Burba
Team

Very cool idea, OurSociety seems like a good project to democratize democracy and encourage clarity in our leaders. Does the site allow users to post public questions for the candidates? Can people view candidates' information without making an account or signing in? These might be ways to further enhance the candidates' accessibility to the public.

Photo of OurSociety Experiment
Team

Thank you for the feedback @Erin Burba, these are great ideas. At this time, users can submit questions into the value pool but not directly. The profiles are visible to people who have not signed in, but you cannot view your percentage match to the candidate. That is a great idea though and something worth reviewing post MVP.
Live Profile Example: http://beta.oursociety.org/representative/peter-jacob-1
A core part of our mission is transparency in our actions, so we keep our product roadmap public as well: https://www.oursociety.org/knowledge-base/oursociety-platform-roadmap/