[Board] Very concerned: FOSS4G 2008 Budget

Jeroen Ticheler Jeroen.Ticheler at fao.org
Fri Apr 11 02:44:39 PDT 2008

Hi all,
Let me start with saying that I very much appreciate all efforts put  
into the organization of the conference. I'm not involved in the  
conference organization and as such I feel that it is easy to  
criticize which is not all that fair. But as member of the board I  
think I should give my reaction on this as I am getting quite worried.

Indeed I have the impression that Frank made a good observation in  
point 4. If in fact the sponsor revenue has an error, that would make  
for a surplus per attendee of only 135 Rand with 700 attendees, but  
worse, it would make for a loss with anything more than that.

My biggest concerns in the run up to the conference are:
- 600 paying attendees is a large number to begin with as a minimum to  
base the budget on. I would be much more careful and start with an  
estimated 450-500 paying attendees, making sure cost/revenue is  
balanced on that.
- We should be less dependent on revenue from exhibitors. The estimate  
of 67.500 USD (sorry in Rand it is hard for me to get a feeling with  
the actaul value) is not a moderate number. It comes to over 100 USD  
per attendee with 600 paying attendees.
- The registration cost is not a moderate one. Just grabbing some  
numbers from the registration page I see 630USD for early bird full  
registration, 760USD for normal registration and 500USD for conference  
only registration. Add to that the travel and hotel costs that many  
participants will have to cover and many of us will decide they can't  
afford it this year... It really makes me worry very much!!!

I have seen quite a number of emails from people indicating they will  
not be able to attend this year's conference because of the total  
cost. There was a question from Jody on the Africa-SDI mailing list to  
try to get feedback from the African community on the conference.  
There was only one(!) reaction to that. I rephrased the same question  
and send it again but nothing... This is not a good sign for what  
concerns the Africa participation I think.

I've done a little more math on the spreadsheet, using 550 attendees  
of whom 450 actually pay. Otherwise I left the variable and fixed cost  
calculations to the spreadsheet. I end up with a 30.000 USD deficit.  
Consider that this still assumes we get all exhibitors and sponsors as  

I would like to ask for a cleaned up budget that clearly puts fixed  
costs and variable costs next to each other and also includes attendee  
numbers that are in the order of 450 paying attendees.

Maybe I am too pessimistic, but I'd better be now than after the  
conference :-) My feeling is that we should cut significantly on fixed  
costs to make the conference more viable. I would even like to see  
registration costs cut, but I guess that's set in stone by now.

Greetings from Rome,

On Apr 11, 2008, at 3:23 AM, Frank Warmerdam wrote:

> Paul Ramsey wrote:
>> Directors,
>> Attached is the working budget for FOSS4G 2008, which we will be  
>> using
>> as the guide going forward.  It is, to my mind, balanced with respect
>> to reasonable probabilities of attendance and sponsorship (one is
>> never 100% sure with these things).  I feel OSGeo is taking an
>> acceptable risk in accepting this budget going forward in partnership
>> with GISSA to put on the event.
>> Any questions are welcome, we'll formally approve this and the GISSA
>> agreement at the next board meeting, pending your acceptance of this
>> budget.
> Paul,
> I may be dense, but this seems like a pretty complicated spreadsheet  
> to
> understand.  Should I take it that:
> 1) revenue is set based on the assumption of 600 paid attendies  
> (despite
>   having 3 columns for number of attendies)?
> 2) costs are actually priced out based on 700/800/1000 attendies,  
> explaining
>   the perverse situation of making more money with less attendies?
> 3) Based on 600 paid attendies, 700 actual attendies and
>   sponsorship/exibitor income of 1.44 million rand it is anticipated  
> to
>   make a profit of about 525000 rand?
> 4) the spreadsheet has been reviewed and approved by the finance  
> committee?
> I find the revenue from exhibitors and sponsors especially  
> confusing.  This
> section (in the first column) shows roughly:
> Reg. Total     2334000
> Exhibitors      525000
>  Confirmed     137503
>  Probable      348000
> Sponsors
>  Confirmed      40000
>  Probable      390000
> Total Revenue  3774503
> It looks to me like the exhibitor revenue is being counted twice  
> assuming
> that the exhibitor "525000" is actually the sum of confirmed and  
> probable
> income.  This would mean that the sheet is counting an extra 525000  
> rand
> of ghost income.  However, I could easily be confused.
> Best regards,
> -- 
> --------------------------------------- 
> +--------------------------------------
> I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
> light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
> and watch the world go round - Rush    | President OSGeo, http://osgeo.org
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