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Mycelium Fund

A vast network of interconnected fungi not only nourishes and sustains the natural world but also has the potential to inspire and guide us in building stronger and more resilient communities based on connection, communication, and cooperation.

The Mycelium Fund is an experiment, embarked on with the support of Arising Quo, to explore the possibilities of a self-distributing granting system that mirrors how natural ecosystems – specifically mycelium – value and distribute resources.

As mycelial networks depend on connections to different organisms for nutrients and communication, this philanthropic fund is reimagined as a collective: supporting and connecting people to each other and to the things they need to thrive. 

Rather than providing one-time, limited grants, with onerous application and reporting, we wanted to explore how a fund could work differently. What if it allowed an efficient flow of resources within a group of people according to need? What if there was the opportunity to reinvest and redistribute resources, and to learn from and support each other? And what if people were trusted to make decisions individually and collectively?

  • Aims

    We set out to explore:

    • How resource flows can take inspiration from ecological systems, in particular the characteristics and principles of mycelium and its regenerative capacities  
    • What happens when you create a small fund that a collective themselves distributes
    • How those involved in the work can make the decisions
    • How decisions can be based on lived, learned and practised experience 
    • How this model can catalyse work that contributes to the transformation of existing systems towards futures of human and planetary flourishing
  • Principles

    We spoke to experts on mushrooms and mycelium to understand how mycelium communicates, grows and shares resources. The result of this work was a set of Ecological Principles which informed the design of the fund. You can read more about this work here.

    Based on this, we have articulated this set of 11 Mycelium Principles which are specifically designed to help those participating in the fund in discussion and decision making. If you have been part of a New Constellations journey, you can see these as similar to the ‘stars’ – they are aspirational and provide guidance.

  • Community

    The Mycelium Fund participants for this initial, closed experiment were drawn from the New Constellations community. This included those who have joined or supported our journeys, recorded audio encounters with us, or been part of other projects: a constellation of people working towards human and planetary flourishing in myriad ways.

  • Fund

    The Mycelium Fund was active between January and April 2024. Participants came together in small groups from across the New Constellations community, spanning many fields and disciplines, to fund and support each other’s work. There was £70K available to resource ideas brought to the small groups, with all decisions made by the groups themselves.

    Each participant had applied with an idea or project to be resourced by the fund, and met with the rest of the group to share and develop their proposals, guided by the Mycelium Fund Principles. They then were each supported to take resources or other ‘nutrients’ from the fund (monetary and non-monetary), and contribute back. Non-monetary nutrients exchanged included skills, experience and advice, ideas, connections, other resources – anything that feels appropriate.

    Each group then works together to select the next group of four to five people, independently of New Constellations but informed by the Principles, unless the monetary resource runs out.

    An ongoing list of activities supported by the fund can be seen here.

  • Reflections and learning

    We will share further reflections and learning on this work once the activities that have been supported have had a chance to become established, likely in the second half of 2024.