[OSGeo-Discuss] Are there proposed ways to raise funds for OSGeoprojects?

Robert Hollingsworth reh2 at prodigy.net
Sat Jun 4 09:28:24 PDT 2011

I've been discussing variations on an idea for a while with various people:

Form pools of users around specific application functionality that the users share 
a need for.  They team up with developers to collaboratively specify and develop 
software.  The users in the pool contribute a fraction of the total cost of the project.

It's not a radically different model from what happens in open source 
development all the time, but the user sees a more direct benefit resulting from 
their financial contribution: "I'm spending US$1000.00 as my share of extending 
so-and-so project with the such-and-such capability I need right now."  This 
seems like a stronger funding recruitment than "I'm contributing US$1000.00 to 
project so-and-so, and I hope the such-and-such capability I need shows up 
soon."  And definitely more attractive than "I'm footing the entire cost of 
US$22,000.00 to hire consultants to extend project so-and-so with the 
such-and-such capability I need."

>From a developer's perspective, this also seems like a natural progression on the 
continuum that begins with the traditional closed-source, license-driven "develop-
once-sell-many" model.  From my own perspective, I'd certainly enjoy repeatedly 
being paid to create essentially the same $22,000.00 product for multiple users, 
but realize it's better to have them collectively pay me $22,000.00 ONCE for 
something they all use, than to have NONE of them pay me anything because 
they cannot afford to individually finance the entire project.

Having said all that, I can think of many reasons why this type of funding 
structure would be difficult to set up and maintain.  I may elaborate on these in a 
followup message, but in the meantime I'd like to hear what others think about 
this kind of approach.

Robert H.

******* TOTALLY IGNORE this test paragraph to see if my web mail editor generates ridiculously long auto line wraps when I post to OSGeo mail lists, which is what I think I have observed before when I don't manually insert line breaks.  If this does NOT generate a ridiculously long message which requires horizontal scroll to be able to read each line, then I apologize for this ridiculously long test paragraph! *******


     I agree with you and have similar ideas.  I just recently sent an email similar (cites National Public Radio and Wikipedia examples) to these ideas to the Board.  http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2011-June/003816.html  The premise of my idea is that there are numerous agencies and companies that have employees with minor budgetary authority to spend ~$500 on software and these individuals are often using OSGeo projects and getting assistance using these OSGeo projects on the email lists and IRC.  It makes sense that these people might be involved in sponsorship.  What do others think?

     Although not heavily promoted, OSGeo and some projects can accept money through OSGeo here, http://www.osgeo.org/sponsorship/opportunities  Some have $500 minimums.  

     Here is the content of that email:


I started this email about six months ago and wanted to keep refining it and adding bits, but, it seems to be the opportune time to send it since it is a current topic for the Board (and it is already far too long - perhaps I should have spend more time removing not adding).  

I have some ideas pertaining to fundraising that I did not find previously discussed on the board or fundraising email lists.  Searching the wiki and board minutes didn't turn up this discussion either.  Perhaps these ideas have already been discussed and discarded in other venues.  I think that OSGEO projects could get substantial funds from many corporate and agency users in $500-$2,000 increments on an annual basis.  

I am thinking of a fundraiser very similar to the National Public Radio style in the States.  That is that for one week instead of providing high quality, commercial free, respected news and music, they focus at least 50% of the time on fundraising.  In addition to changing the focus to fundraising they use all methods possible to fundraise.  The methods seem almost extreme.  It verges on berating, guilt, coercion, and other less dignified methods.  Here are some clips that highlight some of these methods although mixed with humor, http://www.vpr.net/episode/49677/  If you have never listened to a NPR style fundraiser, I would suggest listening to one (although I also suggest listening to the station for a week without fundraiser to experience some of the more positive aspects of NPR).  There should be one on internet radio currently, perhaps someone can send out a link when their local station is fundraising.  In all the fundraising the focus is
 that NPR provides unique, high quality, commercial free, respected news and music and that you, yes you, can help provide that unique, high quality, commercial free, respected news and music that you and others value so much.  This is impressed upon you in that familiar authoritative NPR voice which you have come to trust and respect over the years.  

NPR has the benefit that people listen to the radio for extended periods of time at home, at work, and in the car going places.  To adopt that approach to OSGeo, would be project mailing lists, IRC channels, websites, and other communication methods.  From the mailing lists, it is clear that most users regard OSGeo developers very highly.  If these respected developers asked for $500 support from users once a year, I think that many would respond.  Developers routinely add new formats, functions, fix bugs, answer 10 of thousands of questions through email and IRC, and otherwise are very responsive to the users.  If these developers spent one week a year asking for support and boasting their project's accomplishments, users would respond.  Following in the NPR style, some large donor could offer a limited time match.  Company X will match your donation, thus doubling it, up to $1,500 if you donate in the next 24 hours.  We need you to donate to
 help us get that $1,500. http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/How_Can_I_Help websites, planet.osgeo.org, personal blogs, developer signatures used on the email list and everything else would need to be temporarily changed to focus on fundraising.  Just as NPR focuses on "unique, high quality, commercial free, respected news and music and that you, yes you, can help provide that unique, high quality, commercial free, respected news and music that you and others value so much"  I think that OSGEO and Projects can focus on the same thing just replacing "news and music" with "Geospatial software and support"  

I think that this would only work if it were really supported and done by developers.  A developer who has helped you individually, answered 10's of 1,000's of questions, fixed bugs for you, added new functionality, etc is far more persuasive than someone who might volunteer just for fundraiser (me) or even Tyler.  

This could be an opportunity to have people sign themselves up as OSGeo members too.  Perhaps donations could include 'premiums' like a shirt and coffee mug.  

I think that for the States, a good time of year is the spring (April/May).

I think that the board is looking into lowering the $500 minimum.  While that could make supporting even more accessible to some users, agencies, and companies, others that would give $500 may take a $250 option if it is available.  It seems fair to have no minimum level for individuals but a higher level for agencies and companies.  

Benefits:  more funds, broad support from many sources, contributors planned for it as an annual expense, people sign up as members, shirts and coffee mugs everywhere is good advertising, more and greater involvement.

Drawbacks:  Developers may not want to fundraise for a week (they are already busy doing a ton of work), developers may feel that fundraising is demeaning to them, OSGeo may appear less 'dignified', not all OSGeo projects allow for support through OSGeo, this could generate a lot of paperwork and mailing for Tyler who may be busy with other OSGeo tasks (paperwork that raises money may be considered a benefit also), this really focuses on projects not OSGeo itself (so this may only be 25% as effective as it could be for OSGeo), focusing OSGeo, OSGeo projects, and OSGeo developers on fundraising for a week takes the focus away from the projects, development, email list support, and other tasks that are usually the focus, these are all ideas for the people that already contribute the most to OSGeo to do more, it seems that OSGeo's approach has been to get large sponsors which has been working and this is different than that and could offend large sponsors,
 changing email signatures, IRC topics, websites, and everything else is a lot of work.

I have listed more drawbacks than benefits but that is because it is easy to criticize.  Also, some of the drawbacks are probably not really drawbacks and may be positives.  

I think that any non-profit can have a fundraiser 1-2 times a year without losing prestige.  For instance, here is the wikipedia one currently:

The second funding idea I have is to contact contractors and businesses that use OSGeo software and encourage them to ask clients to contribute to the OSGeo projects that they use.  So if you do a project for a client that uses OpenLayers, ask them to consider a tax-deductible contribution to OpenLayers that allowed you to do that project for them for substantial savings.  Also explain that supporting the projects will help implement new features which will keep the software very useful for them continuing into the future as new formats and technologies emerge.  This would essentially be encouraging contractors and consultants using OSGeo to offer their clients the option of adding $200-500 to support OSGeo projects which made the whole thing possible and to help further the projects for their future needs.  Perhaps this idea is an idea for a different thread and discussion.  

Perhaps these ideas can find a place in the overall fundraising outlined here, http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Fundraising_Strategy I see that some of these are already included in the 2010 page, http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Fundraising_2010 

Bests, Eli

>>> On 6/3/2011 at 2:55 AM, in message
<58C383B0A191E747BE79503F3EEA22BF8960B4ADAA at beja012.edia.pt>, Duarte Carreira
<DCarreira at edia.pt> wrote:
> Have there been any discussions about ways of raising funds for projects 
> under the OSGeo umbrella?
> For instance, annual fund raising campaigns like Wikipedia does? Or 
> letters/emails asking for donations to known "significant" users as 
> associations sometimes do? Or using sites specialized in linking users 
> requests to developers? I suppose this is to be done by each project 
> individually...

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/attachments/20110604/d43b86dd/attachment-0002.html>

More information about the Discuss mailing list