[OSGeo-Conf] FOSS4G Handbook - Financial expectations

Michael Terner mgt at appgeo.com
Sun Sep 11 09:48:29 PDT 2016

As the group in the "on deck circle", this has been a very interesting and
important thread to read. I hope that sharing the Boston team's outlook and
perspective is useful to this conversation. Indeed, many of the things we
believe and are pursuing are already reflected:

   1. As Venka observes, we are not pursuing a "budget venue" approach. We
   are in a large, urban city and as Steven wrote the economics for finding
   this kind of space make $100/day really, really difficult (if not
   impossible). But, we also believe we are in a desirable location with a
   dynamic tech city and an incredible academic community that will help draw
   interest. We also want to create a local, regional and USA buzz so that
   Boston is The Place to Be for understanding some of the international
   trends in geo open source, and even the *geo industry* more broadly. As
   Eddie Pickle has observed, why shouldn't FOSS4G be the #2 "geo event" on
   the planet? In other words, one of our goals is to attract *more* people
   who will be able to pay the full costs of the conference. From our vantage,
   this shouldn't be a "low budget affair", it should be an important
   "international happening."
   2. That said, we fully understand the reality and necessity to keep the
   show as affordable as possible, and that there are very important
   communities that we would like to have attend where the published costs
   will be a challenge. We have plans for student volunteers and other kinds
   of discounts already. But, the way that some of the conference economics
   work, there is a tipping point where a larger conference actually can be a
   lower of the core conference costs (i.e., the venue, wifi, video, etc.) are
   prorated across more people. We want to be the first FOSS4G to draw >1,000
   people and we think we have a good shot at it. We also are going to be very
   aggressive in pursuing sponsorship, both from the established sponsor
   community, but also from first time sponsors, and tech companies in Boston.
   This too will help generate revenue and control costs. If we meet our
   attendance and sponsorship goals, we will return a significant profit to
   OSGeo and we hope that those profits can be used for the kinds of programs
   that Eli mentioned, i.e., committees that distribute travel grants; or
   provide support to events in the developing world; etc. Indeed, we have
   already proposed to follow Cameron's suggestion and expressed our return of
   profit to OSGeo as a percentage. Our proposal states returning 80% of
   profits up to $100K, and 100% of profits that are above $100k should we be
   lucky enough to be that successful.

Having just returned from Bonn, we are more excited and more committed than
ever (I just posted a blog on my impressions and experiences
And, we believe we can follow Till's and the Bonn LOC's example in making
this an exciting and dynamic event in a unique part of the world. Bonn's
World Conference Center venue was worth its cost and added greatly to the
event. We believe people will come to this kind of event; and we are
equally committed in using the paying audience as a means of controlling
costs and/or providing discounts to those who need them.

All the best...


On Sat, Sep 10, 2016 at 8:38 AM, Venkatesh Raghavan <venka.osgeo at gmail.com>

> I do not think we need to select a "budget venue".
> Wonderful venues (perhaps, better than what we have seen thus far)
> are available at a lower price in low-income countries.
> I do not talk of any compromise on "core items" expected in
> FOSS4G conferences. Is video streaming a "core item" which
> was only recently possible in FOSS4G conferences?
> If we say that this is a "core item", that is as good as
> saying that FOSS4G conferences will be organized only in
> OECD countries.
> Venka
> On 9/10/2016 5:29 PM, Cameron Shorter wrote:
>> Hi Venka,
>> I think that you are on the right track discussing "lower budget" foss4g
>> conference in "lower income" countries.
>> While the Global FOSS4G is firstly an international "gathering of the
>> tribes" and should prioritise needs of the international attendees, we
>> should recognise that historically over half the attendees come from the
>> local region. I agree that it makes sense to see what can be done to
>> help attract local attendees. If that means minimising costs, maybe by
>> selecting budget venues etc, then a LOC should have the flexibility to
>> suggest such options. However, selection budget options, should not
>> translate to reducing the core items which are expected in FOSS4G
>> conferences.
>> Warm regards, Cameron
>> On 10/09/2016 1:47 PM, Venkatesh Raghavan wrote:
>>> Hi Cameron,
>>> My comments inline.
>>> On 9/9/2016 9:05 PM, Cameron Shorter wrote:
>>>> Hi Venka,
>>>> Thanks for suggesting specific ideas to implement.
>>>> For this email thread, I'd like to focus on your suggestions related to
>>>> financial expectations, so we can take it through to resolution. Namely,
>>>> your item 5. Defining how profit should be returned to OSGeo.
>>>> I suggest it is safer to define budget returned to OSGeo as a percentage
>>>> of profit. As profit closely aligns with number of attendees, profit
>>>> will be larger for larger events. Europe and US have historically
>>>> attracted larger attendance than "Rest of World" and hence will return
>>>> larger profit. As such, OSGeo should expect to earn less in "Rest of
>>>> World" years.
>>> Yes, I agree with above. However "Rest of the World" include only
>>> low-income countries and not high-income countries like Australia,
>>> Japan, Korea etc. FOSS4G Conferences in low-income countries may spend
>>> less (lower venue and food costs) and also earn less compared to events
>>> in Europe and North America.
>>> I thought the RFP defined an expected budget to be returned to OSGeo
>>>> under conservative estimates, but I can't find reference to it. (Maybe
>>>> someone else can point to it).
>>>> For management of special interest programs and sponsorship, I suggest
>>>> refer to the email thread "FOSS4G Simplicity" started by Eli Adam,
>>>> suggesting the be coordinated outside of the FOSS4G LOC (Like the
>>>> academic track).
>>> I agree to making thinks easier and simpler coordinating Academic Track,
>>> Awards, Travel Grants outside the LoC.
>>> Best
>>> Venka
>>>> On 9/09/2016 10:03 AM, Venkatesh Raghavan wrote:
>>>>> My Comments inline.
>>>>> On 9/9/2016 7:40 AM, Steven Feldman wrote:
>>>>>> Maria
>>>>>> Nice image, what are you suggesting in terms of the RfP? ______
>>>>>> Steven
>>>>>> On 8 Sep 2016, at 22:03, Maria Antonia Brovelli
>>>>>>> <maria.brovelli at polimi.it> wrote:
>>>>>>> <equity.jpg>
>>>>>>> Dear Cameron I prefer to take into account the differences among
>>>>>>> countries. We want to elicit people developing and using open
>>>>>>> source and we want to walk all together toward this result.
>>>>>>> Equality often is not the best choice. Best regards Maria
>>>>> +1 for Maria's suggestion.
>>>>> I would suggest the following;
>>>>> 1) There was some comment on issue of too many people
>>>>> requesting for free conference passes.
>>>>> We need to clearly decide a guideline for offering free passes.
>>>>> Free passes only offered to main Workshop Trainer, Keynote speakers and
>>>>> student volunteers? Apart from that *no one* gets a free pass.
>>>>> 2) continue the discounted conference fee model for
>>>>> low-income countries. This model has been successfully
>>>>> used in FOSS4G-2015
>>>>> 3) Offer Travel support only for participants who are
>>>>> have their presentation accepted at the FOSS4G conference.
>>>>> 4) Are we considering live streaming in future FOSS4G events?
>>>>> In that case, request local chapters to organize local "FOSS4GFest"
>>>>> during the duration of the main FOSS4G Conference and
>>>>> take advantage of watching the live-streaming along with
>>>>> the local community members who are unable to physically make it
>>>>> to the FOSS4G event.
>>>>> 5) Consider recommending LoC to return a minimum fixed amount
>>>>> of profit to OSGeo. Taking into account, that OSGeo annual
>>>>> budget for 2015 is $75,000, we could consider having $50K-$60K
>>>>> returned from the profit to OSGeo foundation when FOSS4G is
>>>>> organized in high-income countries and $25K-$30K when FOSS4G
>>>>> is organized in low-income countries (they can retain part of
>>>>> the profit for organizing events to grow local communities, but
>>>>> should submit a budget report in subsequent FOSS4G conferences
>>>>> as to how the profits were used). This will help the foundation to
>>>>> sustain the "Travel Grant", "Student Award" and "Code Sprint" at
>>>>> FOSS4G events.
>>>>> 6) If the LoC of FOSS4G event is able to generate more profit
>>>>> that stated in item 5 above, let them have a say in planning
>>>>> how such "extra" profit will be used in future.
>>>>> 7) Consider a upper cap on the conference registration fee.
>>>>> I would suggest $100/day of conference event when organized
>>>>> in high-income countries. This would be much lower when FOSS4G
>>>>> is organized in a low-income country
>>>>> Best
>>>>> Venka
>>>>>>> Sent from my Samsung device
>>>>>>> -------- Original message -------- From: Cameron Shorter
>>>>>>> <cameron.shorter at gmail.com> Date: 08/09/2016 22:53 (GMT+01:00) To:
>>>>>>> conference <conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org> Subject: Re:
>>>>>>> [OSGeo-Conf] FOSS4G Handbook - Financial expectations
>>>>>>> Ok, lets start working through Steven's list one item at a time,
>>>>>>> starting a new email thread for each.
>>>>>>> Once we have resolution (probably concluding with a vote) we can
>>>>>>> finalise it in the foss4g handbook.
>>>>>>> On 8/09/2016 9:12 PM, Steven Feldman wrote:
>>>>>>>> 1) Overall financial expectations re surplus and sharing of
>>>>>>>>> surplus with OSGeo - possibly setting slightly different
>>>>>>>>> expectations for RoW to NA & EU
>>>>>>> We have draft principles on Finances in the handbook here:
>>>>>>> https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/FOSS4G_Handbook#Finances
>>>>>>> <https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/FOSS4G_Handbook#Finances>
>>>>>>> I suggest using this existing text as the basis for guidance. I
>>>>>>> personally think it has the right principles in place. In
>>>>>>> particular, it is recommending each conference aim to hand over a
>>>>>>> fixed percentage of profits as surplus to OSGeo. 85% is suggested.
>>>>>>> I prefer this advise over the suggestion that low income countries
>>>>>>>  retain more profit.
>>>>>>> -- Cameron Shorter M +61 419 142 254
>>>>>>> _______________________________________________ Conference_dev
>>>>>>> mailing list Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org
>>>>>>> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
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*Michael Terner*
*Executive Vice President*
617-447-2468 Direct | 617-447-2400 Main
Applied Geographics, Inc.
24 School Street, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02108
*Celebrating our 25th Anniversary *

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