[OSGeo-Conf] Underwriting FOSS4G events

till.adams at fossgis.de till.adams at fossgis.de
Wed Aug 19 05:04:09 PDT 2015

Gert-Jan, @others

I think there is nothing really to formalize for this, as FOSSGIS e.V. 
will be contractor of everything that costs money
(except OSGeo wants to be contractor of the bigger parts like venue 

The financial stuff (as mentioned by Steven) is completely in my and 
Torsten's hands - and this is backupped by a formal decision of the 
FOSSGIS board.

Regarding "responsibility I would say, if talking about responsibility 
of LOC, in my eyes this is responsibility of FOSSGIS e.V..
For this, we have 3 of 4 board members in our LOC and also a monthly 
board meeting, where normally I report our activities.

For our FOSSGIS conferences we act on a similar way between FOSSGIS and 
LOC: The LOC lists up the major costs, we decide on this and from then 
on, all noteworthy expenses are backupped by our board. So there is no 
real responsibility of LOC-members in case of a financial desaster of a 

If that is fine for you, I'd like to keep things as simple as possible.

(@Gert-Jan ... I am still waiting for your PR-team response ;-))


Am 2015-08-19 13:18, schrieb Gert-Jan van der Weijden:
> 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.
> Regards,
> Gert-Jan
> 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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