[Board] Sponsorship funding and value for money

Chris Holmes cholmes at openplans.org
Sun Jan 6 15:41:58 PST 2008

Hey all, sorry for sounding in so late on this thread, was in the middle 
of vacation, and only got back to work in the new year, and am still 
catching up on email.

For awhile now I've felt a disconnect between at least what my 
priorities for OSGeo would be and the day to day activities of the ED. 
I'm pretty sure we've talked about getting more granular reports on 
activities, but I have yet to really see them.  I think I had a similar 
reaction to Jo when I read the ED update.  If we had a tighter feedback 
loop then we might have been able to give more immediate feedback on 

I never saw any discussion as to whether the Journal should really be a 
top priority.  Perhaps I missed it, but I never would have actively 
voted for it as one of the main time commitments of the ED.  It just 
strikes me as too inward facing, preaching to the choir.  I think it's 
been a good thing, but we should focus on getting the content in it 
republished elsewhere, instead of just taking an 'if we build it they 
will come' approach.  It strikes me as an indirect way of getting 
towards what we want, which is more exposure of OSGeo to those who do 
not know it.  I also think the nature of a 'journal' is relatively 
inward focused, when I think journal I think academic - writing for 
one's peers, with a focus on just being 'published', not on wider 
readership.  I know the journal has wider aspirations, but if it does 
I'd say the ED's time should at least now be really focused on promoting 
it, not on producing it.  If its production can't stand up on its own, 
or gets in to a slower cycle, then I think that's fine.

As for legal status, I'll just echo Frank's and Jo's thoughts.  I don't 
think it's core to what we are doing.  Most of our immediate sponsors 
are corporations who can write it off either way.  I don't think the tax 
burden of non-profit vs. corporation is going to make or break OSGeo, 
and though many US grant applications require it I don't think it's 
certain that we even want to go after grants to accomplish our goals - 
having gone for a number and even being successful at some I don't 
really recommend it, it's not worth the effort unless you have a gifted 
grant writer who knows how the system works, as there's a lot of people 
asking for money.

But I do think it should be close to completion, so we should finish it 
up.  But I don't think it should be a blocker on any other activity.

As for trips, when we approved the travel budget I really thought these 
would be primarily for trips to either promote OSGeo to new areas, or to 
close on specific sponsors.  Going to a local chapter meeting and making 
the initial pitch seems less effective to me, the ED should come in for 
the close, for the final touch.

Ok, now I need to apologize for the negative tone of this email, and for 
its length.  I think my OSGeo enthusiasm and involvement had been 
fading, since I've felt less connected to the activities.  But it looks 
like others may share some of my concerns.  I think we as a board need 
to do a better job of communicating our priorities to Tyler, and we need 
to be following up to make sure how he spends his days is in line with 
that.  I don't think we need another large discussion of our priorities, 
I believe Jo puts quite well what we should be focusing on: 'show 
measurable public impact and return on investment'.

I will try to think on ideas on how to help this, as I think OSGeo has a 
lot of potential for 2008, but it depends on all of us executing, and 
planning for the future, doing more than just keeping things running. 
Thanks for bringing this up Jo, it's a hard topic, but I think it's core 
to our success, both figuring out the most effective use of our 
resources, and making sure OSGeo is an organization we all feel good 
about 'pitching'.

best regards,


Tyler Mitchell (OSGeo) wrote:
> On 18-Dec-07, at 12:00 PM, Jo Walsh wrote:
>> In de-prioritising some of those things, it makes sense to defocus on
>> those tasks which can or are being carried out by "volunteer" labour
>> (Such as website development and maintenance, editorial work on the
>> journal) or by separate budgets (work on the marketing plan and 
>> materials).
> While still on my list of items to participate in and follow, many 
> projects are doing increasingly well with volunteer labour.  We have 
> more fresh blood managing Drupal, several new journal editors coming on 
> board (with a planned reorg. in the new year).  Also, the marketing 
> committee (which grew recently too) is managing their own funds, with 
> Arnulf and Jeroen specifically handling the marketing plan and material 
> development project.  I'd say that volunteerism has improved a lot over 
> the past 3-4 months and has a bright future to continue improving.  In 
> several ways my hand is still in the pot to help use or direct outcomes 
> from some of these efforts, mostly through shared load with committees.
>> Is there a standard
>> access stats package running - through drupal or a standalone thing or
>> even Google analytics?
> We are currently running awstats, but there are some holes in the logs 
> unfortunately:
> http://www.osgeo.org/awstats/awstats.pl?config=osgeo
> How you gauge the other journal metrics, I am not sure.  But when I see 
> that over 100 writers have contributed content in only three volumes, it 
> is successfully engaging many people in our communities and capturing 
> information about projects, case studies, etc. that we never had 
> before.  The interest in academic circles is especially strong and we 
> use it as a way of engaging sponsors to share their OSGeo stories as well.
>> There are so many people who can speak convincingly for the OSGeo
>> organisation and whose attendance would mean a lot in terms of honour
>> and credibility for a local chapter...
> A lot of great stuff like this is happening already, if you look for 
> it.  In most cases local groups are the ones inviting the speakers, not 
> us trying to impose who we think is best.  So I've basically made myself 
> available and in many cases simply came to present OSGeo when 
> requested.  In the end, several local groups or companies are actively 
> covering some travel expenses too, which was very encouraging.
>>>>  likely enough I missed an email. Can you point me to an archive
>> where the substance of these funding and strategy discussions with
>> Autodesk was relayed to the Board, or to the Fundraising committee?
> I've kept in regular touch with Ken about how much funding is available 
> and what kind of future funding plans they have.  I've also presented 
> him with our needs (e.g. budget) so he can communicate our needs 
> accordingly.  You know it all already, they've committed funds for 2008 
> and plan to scale back funding after next year so they can share the 
> funding load more with others.  Also, I worked with Ken, Gary and Laura 
> to manage our bank accounts, etc. - all old news now, but was important 
> to get a handle on.
> I'll leave the others points for the board to discuss, but just wanted 
> to clarify a few items.
> Tyler
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