[OSGeo-Conf] Underwriting FOSS4G events

Gert-Jan van der Weijden gert-jan at osgeo.nl
Wed Aug 19 04:18:39 PDT 2015

It doesn't sound formal, it sounds mature ;-)

I'd like to add one point: not just the relationship between OSGeo.org  
and the LOC,
but also between the LOC (as a team of 20 people actually organizing  
the FOSS4G) and the LOC (as the local osgeo organisation who takes the  
responsibiliy to organize a FOSS4G e.g. the German FOSSGIS E.V.). To  
my idea these two interpretations of LOC get mixed in the discussion.



Steven Feldman <shfeldman at gmail.com> schreef:

> I agree that it is time for OSGeo to formalise our commitment to  
> ‘underwrite’ a FOSS4G (Global or Regional). The reasonably loose  
> understanding that has worked in the past is probably past it’s time.
> Thoughts on the process:
> We need a clear statement from any FOSS4G seeking OSGeo’s financial backing
> Initial advance(s) required and timing
> Potential loss through cancellation at different stages
> Potential loss if conference goes ahead but attendance is less than target
> OSGeo will confirm the maximum level that it will underwrite
> OSGeo will need to set aside a reserve to cover the maximum  
> underwritten losses of all FOSS4G events that it is supporting. This  
> will probably limit our ability to underwrite multiple events and  
> may require the Conference Committee to select between competing  
> regional events if there are several applications
> It would probably be prudent for the Conference Committee to require  
> a member to join the LOC with financial oversight of expenditure,  
> forecasts and risks.
> The Conference Committee will need to continuously review financial  
> risk and may require changes to the financial and operational plans  
> of an event.
> The LOC will need to accept that OSGeo will not accept unlimited  
> financial liability for their event, any losses exceeding the  
> maximum level underwritten will need to be borne by the LOC or  
> insured locally.
> The LOC agrees to remit xx% of any surplus to OSGeo to support  
> future events and other OSGeo activities (I would suggest at least  
> 85% but no doubt this could be a subject for discussion across the  
> community but it should be standard for all events)
> OSGeo will need to draft a legal agreement with the LOC that sets  
> out these terms
> Sorry if this sounds very formal but if OSGeo are making financial  
> commitments running into the $50-100k region which could be the case  
> for a global FOSS4G then there needs to be some proper process and  
> limits in place.
> For info - FOSS4G 2013 in Nottingham received no advance from OSGeo  
> (we were fortunate with the timing of our first payments and  
> receipts of sponsorship). OSGeo signed the contract with the  
> conference venue but we had no agreement with OSGeo to underwrite  
> losses outside of the venue contract. We returned just over 85% of  
> the surplus to OSGeo
> ______
> Steven
>> On 19 Aug 2015, at 07:37, till.adams at fossgis.de wrote:
>> Hi Cameron,
>> thanks for jumping into the theme ;-)
>> What you expect could be done easily on the one hand, although  
>> final costs are not totally fixed yet - I think we roughly might  
>> hit them by 80-90% for our early stage now. I just would have to  
>> sum up the big cost factors such as conference center, caterer,  
>> PCO, ship for gala dinner, that are the big four I guess. Take this  
>> amount plus let's say 20% would give a quiet good overview about  
>> the full expected costs. But from then on, there are at least two  
>> scenarios:
>> 1. What are our losses at what date before the conference if we do  
>> a full cancellation - which means no income (if we'd have to pay  
>> back e.g. the full sponsoring packages as well...)?
>> 2. What are our losses, if just less attendees appear than our  
>> break even (around 600) tells us we need, but we are going run the  
>> conference anyway? That one is much more complicated, as we only  
>> might see, how many people really appear very short before the  
>> conference. Taking both together, we might come to a scenario,  
>> where running the conference, although we know, we will loose  
>> money, is better than cancellation (just from the financial point  
>> of view) - but who in the end decides that?
>> Anyway.
>> I've done a rough estimation about our pre-payments for Jeff month  
>> ago. I think best way is, when I talk to the "main cost factors"  
>> and ask them what their rates are, if we sign a contract and then  
>> cancel e.g. 6 month, 3 month and 1 month before (I am sure, that at  
>> least WCCB already passed this to me in the conditions). From that  
>> I can do a conservative estimation at what time(s) we will face  
>> maximum exposure with an uncertainity factor of some percents.
>> Is it that, what you expect?
>> I am sure, this is just an "if" discussion and will never get true ;-)
>> Regards, Till
>> Am 2015-08-19 02:28, schrieb Cameron Shorter:
>>> Hi Till,
>>> To answer your question, could you please provide details about
>>> maximum financial exposure your conference will face (and at what
>>> time(s) you will face maximum exposure). Ie, if a world pandemic
>>> breaks out, or if there is a global financial crisis, or similar, and
>>> you don't have expected (or any) attendees, what will be the amount
>>> lost if you need to pull the conference?
>>> The collective exposure of all FOSS4G conferences being guaranteed by
>>> OSGeo should be less than OSGeo's budget set aside for such exposure,
>>> at any point in time.
>>> On 18/08/2015 5:29 pm, till.adams at fossgis.de wrote:
>>>> Arnulf, @Conference-committee,
>>>> thanks to put my thoughts in better words ;-).
>>>> So, I agree to change my question into a proper request to the  
>>>> OSGeo Conference Committee (by copying Arnulfs words):
>>>>> Dear Conference Committee,
>>>>> the Bonn LOC in charge of organizing FOSS4G 2016 requests OSGeo to act
>>>>> as financial safeguard for FOSS4G 2016. OSGeo agrees to cover potential
>>>>> losses that could arise from a failure of FOSS4G 2016 (be it natural
>>>>> disaster, economic crisis, lower attendance than expected, etc.). In
>>>>> turn OSGeo will receive the surplus generated through the conference.
>>>>> Note:
>>>>> In my understanding this request should be discussed on the conference
>>>>> list. Once a consensus has been reached by the conference committee the
>>>>> outcome should be presented to the board as a motion. Last decision lies
>>>>> with the board.
>>>>> Note to the board:
>>>>> In my understanding the whole issue is pretty simple. OSGeo's current
>>>>> uncommitted financial resources totally allow safeguarding FOSS4G
>>>>> without exposing the foundation to any risk at all. In return a
>>>>> successful FOSS4G is easily earned money. Err: Made money. Plus it
>>>>> serves the purpose of the foundation. Wow.
>>>>> If OSGeo refuses to act as financial safeguard the surplus will also go
>>>>> somewhere else.
>>>>> Looking back in history we were pretty careless/reckless (individuals
>>>>> signing and becoming personally fully liable). But as we mature we
>>>>> become less audacious and this also involves financial "security" (and
>>>>> may also be somewhat more boring...).
>>>>> :-)
>>>>> Best regards,
>>>>> Arnulf
>>>> Till
>>>>> for the FOSS4G Bonn LOC

Gert-Jan van der Weijden
Voorzitter Stichting OSGeo.nl

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