It really depends on which project. If you're talking about DAVS then we need to hire programmers. DAVS isn't the sort of project which could be done right if done completely as a volunteer effort but at best perhaps a rough prototype can be produced.
There are several people currently involved with the DAVS project. Each of those people should be paid something so that they can dedicate more time to the project. $1 million dollars for DAVS would be enough to create something amazing but would it match the vision we have for DAVS?
I can help design DAVS as a DApp but I also know the task of programming it is going to take quite a lot of man hours. Once DAVS is set up appropriately then it would not be me who you would ask what the money would be spent on but instead there would be a process of consensus where the team would acquire feedback from ZS to determine what the priorities are. I don't want to determine or set priorities for the project but instead prefer if the partcipants direct the flow of resources. I believe instead of top down dictatorial style leadership we should have emergent bottom up "processes" which direct participation.
An example of a project which is directed by the community consensus process right now would be Bitshares. In the Bitshares community there is a project called Moonstone which is currently asking for funding. Bitsapphire is a group that formed to run the main forum just as you are doing but they now want to build an app (Moonstone) for the benefit of the Bitshares community. They made a proposal on the forum: https://bitsharestalk.org/index.php?topic=14274.0
The way they want to go about it is by issuiing a "user issued asset" on the Bitshares platform. They'll gift that asset to the community at a rate of 1.15 UIA tokens per $1 to all who donate. From here they'll build the app and release the code under the MIT license and when the app makes it's profit then they will buy back the 1.15 "user issued assets"tokens per dollar. This means every donor has an opportunity to get their money back plus 15% if the project is a success.
If we receive resources for DAVS then the ZS community would in essence be making a donation to benefit future growth and development of the ZS community. If the ZS community thinks DAVS is a good idea and would like to see it exist then we can make it but I don't think DAVS can be funded through the commercial route of asking a bank because it's clearly a ZS community specific project.
As for the history of ZS I'm definitely aware of it. I've seen some stuff go down myself and while I don't know the details of what happened there was a dramatic change in ZS over the past few years. I saw as you saw that a lot could go wrong and there is a lot of disorder/discord but I also think we can improve the situation with DApps. I think DApps can dramatically improve participation.
My reasoning being that if people have both hope and a plan they'll have something to work toward. You mentioned that we need a very active, very dedicated, and very sane community and I agree on those points. I think if we had better tools we could definitely have a more active and dedicated community. Whether or not the community would be considered "sane" I cannot really answer but if I had to give input on that I would say that reputation and the ability to process information/events as a community may also be augmented by software. If certain bits of information are false, untrue, propaganda, etc, to a certain extent we don't really control the signal to noise ratio in our community.
But we can create tools which can help us to filter out the noise and something such as Canonizer is an example. We can have tools which allow us to separate fact from fiction in most cases. We need consensus building tools and we need good filtering.