[Board] Sponsorship funding and value for money

Chris Holmes cholmes at openplans.org
Wed Jan 9 21:36:31 PST 2008

Hey Tyler, sorry for causing you confusion, I'll try to clarify a few 
things.  And I'm sorry for writing a confusing email, I didn't feel it 
got across what I wanted to, but didn't figure out a way to write 
something better.

A couple things on the two main take aways.  I think what I'd actually 
_really_ like on the fundraising and sponsorship is you engaging the 
board more.  Using your time to herd us cats, with some concrete actions 
that we can do.  You're going to have to be the point man on the 
strategy, figure out the path that you feel comfortable pursuing.  But 
it'd be great to take away a couple actionable items.  And not vague 
things, but specifics like reach out to persons X and Y, and tell them 
these things.  I've never paid much attention to fund raising stuff, but 
when we were trying to hire a fundraising person the thing they always 
told us is that you _have_ to have a board.  We haven't really built our 
board for TOPP yet.  For OSGeo we have a pretty great board, but I think 
all of us need help with what our concrete steps for raising money our. 
  I'm not saying you should naturally know this Tyler, just know that we 
should be a resource with potential.

I wasn't meaning to imply anything about 'value for money', I was mostly 
just pointing that a few things in the last ED report that I don't feel 
are the most effective use of time.  I'm open to hearing how the journal 
is the most important thing, but I don't remember a discussion about 
that and it seemed to be eating a lot of your time.

As for the reports, your latest report is really great.  It gives a nice 
clear picture of what you've been up to that's easy to digest.  All I 
meant by 'granularity' is 'more often', not necessarily more detailed. 
If it had come to my attention earlier how much time the journal was 
taking up I could have raised my concerns earlier (and these are my 
concerns, others may have successfully argued it was the best thing to 
do).  Instead the report said that it had taken a lot of time.  Maybe 
others feel that a weekly report is a bit much, but I'd love to see more 
about the day to day.  The other thing I'd like to see (though others 
can push back that this is a bit much) is a rough breakdown between how 
much time is spent on the different categories.  Like so if just 
answering questions about osgeo on irc and im and email is taking up a 
large percentage of your time then that becomes explicit, and we can 
maybe figure out places where we can help more.


I don't think I said anything about sponsorship value, so not sure what 
to say there.

I'm not sure that my advice for the journal extends much more beyond 
contact gis publications with particular articles that might be of 
interest to them and see if you can get them reprinted.  Reusing the 
content I think has quite a bit of potential.  I apologize I don't 
really have time to sub to another list.

 > 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 didn't see anything on the Japan trip about closing of deals, or even 
about the discussions of potential osgeo funding.  At least not in the 
ed report email from 12/11.  Maybe I'm alone on this, but I think I'd 
like to hear more about lots from that trip, of what all Venka's doing, 
what Orkney's doing, what the state of OS GIS in Japan is, what you and 
Geoff and Schuyler and Lorenzo brainstormed about.  Maybe it's a bit 
much for a monthly update, but I for one would be psyched to hear about 
all the information gathered on that trip.  For potential osgeo funding 
and leads, and really more just in general.

I'm sorry I hadn't provided feedback on some of this earlier, it is 
definitely my fault for not bringing it up and letting it build to a 
bunch of negative points.  I think/hope things are getting better 
already, the latest report was really great.  Maybe the other thing that 
could help is to gather a bit of specific feedback from the board after 
the report on the call about priorities for the next month and things 
done in the previous month?  I think I've felt like it's just a report 
and wasn't sure when/how to give feedback.

Also, I think you've done a great job in the last year Tyler, of getting 
a handle on everything, having a successful organization up and running. 
  OSGeo has been doing most everything we set out to do, and that's 
definitely hugely to your credit Tyler.  I think my point should be 
redone to something like 'I want this to be a big growth year for 
OSGeo'.  I want us to make a splash in places we haven't before, to not 
just speak to the choir, but to turn our focus outward.

As for defining 'show measurable public impact and return on
investment', for OSGeo in general I'd again define it very vaguely, as 
having a lot more people know about open source geospatial.  I can 
articulate a way I personally would go about this, it'd focus heavily on 
the open geodata project, which I think I could justify in different 
ways as lining up really well with our stated priorities.  Other board 
members may have different ways of doing it, but I don't think the best 
thing to do would be to us have another big committee discussion on it. 
  I think I'd prefer to sign on to a vision that the ED feels passionate 
about and argues for.  I'm even open to that being the Journal, I'd just 
need to hear more about the wider impact and how its showing measurable 
public impact.

I apologize if this is still not helpful - I really fear that it's not 
and that maybe I should just remain silent and/or get off the board, 
since I may just only be hurting things by bringing up these discussions 
again, and maybe OSGeo should just get on with it and continue down the 
course we're set on.  I'm just not sure...

best regards,


Tyler Mitchell (OSGeo) wrote:
> 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 goals.
> 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:
> http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2007-December/002240.html
> 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.
> Tyler
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> Board at lists.osgeo.org
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