[Board] Sponsorship funding and value for money

Tyler Mitchell (OSGeo) tmitchell at osgeo.org
Mon Jan 7 17:34:59 PST 2008

I've struggled with understanding this whole thread, so correct me if  
I'm wrong.  The main point I'm taking away is that fundraising and  
sponsorship need more focus, particularly from me and my time.  I  
accept this and agree.  I hope you can leave it with me to manage the  
priority conflicts that I have already acknowledged and to spend more  
time on this front.

The second point I think I'm reading from this thread is that the  
"value for money" from the E.D. position/expenses is not clear to you  
and Jo.  I won't try to justify the position, but feel several  
concepts are getting mixed up here.  Value is relative to the  
assessor - are we talking value to OSGeo, value to sponsors or value  
to projects?  I feel that OSGeo's corporate "value to sponsors" is  
getting mixed up with the E.D.'s "value to OSGeo".  I believe that  
the board wants the E.D. position to help on all these fronts, not  
just one or two.  I doubt that sponsors come to OSGeo with funding  
because of any single thing the E.D. might do - but instead because  
they support our mission, direction and projects.  So it seems like  
it remains valuable to further clarify our direction.

Therefore, I think for 2008 now is a good time to start to review  
OSGeo priorities, as a whole, then see how I can best help meet those  

I'd rather focus on goals and objectives that write the rest of this  
email, but these points in your thread are confusing me and tossing  
me around a bit.

ED Reports -- I specifically tried to make the last update report as  
useful as possible, by not only providing an update, but also  
commentary and opinion:
In our board meeting in Victoria we discussed having more frequent  
updates, but that there was no interest in getting more detail.  So  
I'm not sure what you mean by "more granular reports", because I  
thought I provided a good one.

Sponsorship Value -- It's still tough to grasp what the concrete  
value proposition for OSGeo is.  I hope that this question of OSGeo  
sponsors getting value for money isn't primarily tied to just what I  
am doing.  If so, my priorities will look a lot different for 2008  
and will not include "unprofitable" day-to-day business support.  The  
value question is a bigger one for the organisation, so I think  
worrying about E.D. position priorities before figuring out the  
organisation's may be a bit backward - but at least it gets the  
discussion started.

Journal --  the main point is that it has held a certain level of my  
focus, but it is seasonal and not something I plan to maintain at  
historical levels.  As I've mentioned, 2007 was an experiment to see  
how sustainable it can be.  Now is time to look at how much is  
realistic - I thought I was pretty open about this.  In my last  
update I noted that our editorial team had some new blood - this was  
supposed to be good news!  If you have some ideas for improving the  
outreach of the journal, please join the mailing list and share them  
- it's not only my project.  As a project, it's engaging others that  
OSGeo current does not engage any other way.  I could describe this  
in more detail, but I'd rather not make it look like a bigger deal  
than it is.

> 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.

I am confused by this because, indeed, I am coming to close the deal  
after the local chapters that invited me set the deal up.  I have yet  
to travel to go to a local chapter meeting, unless I was already  
there to speak to a new audience.  I think it's getting confused here  
because the local chapters are setting up the audience, inviting me,  
often paying for part of the travel and then finding additional  
opportunities to use me when I'm there.  These are attempts to make  
my trip more productive.  Apart from that I simply went to conference  
events, hosted our booth, did talks, etc.  Perhaps my status reports  
were not clear on this front?

> 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.

If there was more feedback from my status reports when there is a  
question or concern, it would prevent some of this confusion (and  
long emails).  This thread has come across as a set of foregone  
conclusions about tasks I've been very briefly reporting on for a  
while now.  I've tried to time my status summaries to coincide with  
the board meetings for this reason, so instant feedback can be  
provided.  If the way I'm presenting/discussing them is not  
productive, please let me know.

> 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've felt that I understood board priorities clearly up to now.  My  
reports are supposed to proactively fill your need for follow up  
too.  I will look at framing my reports so they address the  
prescribed priorities more specifically.

Regardless, I think you do need to a clearer discussion about  
priorities, simply because you still need to qualify what that final  
statement means: 'show measurable public impact and return on  
investment' .  If you can't define it for OSGeo in general, it will  
be impossible to define it for me in particular.


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