[OSGeo-Discuss] OSGeo Board Priorities

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Sun Mar 3 15:44:42 PST 2013

Aproductive virtual meeting of the OSGeo Board 
<http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_Meeting_2013-02-26>resulted in general 
consensus over OSGeo's priorities, which in turn should help the OSGeo 
Board and OSGeo committees when guiding OSGeo into the future.

These principles are:

  * OSGeo should act as a low capital, volunteer focused organisation.
  * OSGeo should focus support on OSGeo communities and initiatives
    which support themselves.

Current priority areas include:

  * Global, regional and local FOSS4G related events, or events which
    include a FOSS4G stream.
  * Marketing OSGeo, which is currently focused aroundOSGeo-Live
  * Education, which is currently focused around the network ofOpen
    Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratories
  * Local Chapters, as outreach initiatives are typically driven at the
    local level.

So lets expand on these:

      OSGeo as a low capital, volunteer focused organisation

Should OSGeo act as a high capital or low capital organisation? I.e., 
should OSGeo dedicate energy to collecting sponsorship and then passing 
out these funds to worthy OSGeo causes.

While initially it seems attractive to have OSGeo woe sponsors, because 
we would all love to have more money to throw at worthy OSGeo goals, the 
reality is that chasing money is hard work. And someone who can chase 
OSGeo sponsorship is likely conflicted with chasing sponsorship for 
their particular workplace. So in practice, to be effective in chasing 
sponsorship, OSGeo will probably need to hire someone specifically for 
the role. OSGeo would then need to raise at least enough to cover wages, 
and then quite a bit more if the sponsorship path is to create extra value.

This high capital path is how the Eclipse foundation is set up, and how 
LocationTech propose to organise themselves. It is the path that OSGeo 
started following when founded under the umbrella of Autodesk.

However, over the last seven years, OSGeo has slowly evolved toward a 
low capital volunteer focused organisation. Our overheads are very low, 
which means we waste very little of our volunteer labour and capital on 
the time consuming task of chasing and managing money. Consequently, any 
money we do receive (from conference windfalls or sponsorship) goes a 
long way - as it doesn't get eaten up by high overheads. As discussed 
and agreed by the board, this low capital path is something that is 
working very well for us, and is the path we should continue to follow.

      Support initiatives which support themselves

With the thousands of great initiatives and opportunities that OSGeo 
could get involved in, and limited budget, how should OSGeo set funding 
priorities? Acknowledging that our volunteer community is blessed with 
many talented individuals, our most effective way to tap into community 
potential is to welcome individuals to "help scratch their itch". 
Extending on this, funding priorities should follow the*actions*of 
already successful communities. (Note the difference between "talk" and 
"action"). If a task or project is important enough, it will attract 
volunteers and/or sponsors to make it happen. In practice, this will 
usually equate to providing co-contributions rather than outright funding.

OSGeo's focus should be on initiatives which are of value to all or most 
OSGeo projects, and to get best value for our limited budget, OSGeo 
should target initiatives which have high value with minimal investment.

With that in mind our priorities should be:

  * Cover the costs of running OSGeo: Bank fees, insurance,
    infrastructure, hosting etc.
  * Support marketing and out reach activities, with a primary focus on
    our FOSS4G global conference, followed by regional and then local
    FOSS4G or related events.
  * Educational type activities are a high priority, but likely will be
    a minimal cost activity from OSGeo's perspective.
  * Other initiatives which fit our priorities, as suggested by membership.

Initiatives which probably wouldn't quality:

  * Sponsoring core development of a particular project. (Too expensive,
    and only supports one project)
  * OSGeo speaker travel expenses, or booth registration costs at a
    conference. (If conferences/local community feel this is important,
    they will either: 1. pay for the keynote, 2. make use of local
    talent, 3. waive fees for our non-profit, 4. find a local sponsor)

      Conferences and related events

Conferences are financially risky events. They need to be planned well 
in advance, and you are never sure how many people will turn up, or 
whether some global event will have a substantial impact on 
registrations. Consequently, conferences such as FOSS4G require 
financial guarantees up front in order to secure a venue. To support and 
enable these conferences, OSGeo will endevour to retain sufficient 
capital to offer such guarantees for any FOSS4G event requesting it. If 
OSGeo's support is requested, then OSGeo would expect these events to 
budget for a modest profit under conservative estimates, and for OSGeo 
to retain profits from such events. To date, such profits, while 
relatively modest, have been OSGeo's primary income source.

Other spatial conferences regularly request an OSGeo involvement, such 
as providingpresenters <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Advocate>, 
workshops,OSGeo-Live DVDs for distribution 
orproviding a booth <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Exhibition_Pack>. OSGeo 
facilitates such requests to the level we can achieve with interested 
volunteers, but typically expects the conference or sponsors to cover 

OSGeo has limited budget set aside for code sprints, which are seen as a 
valuable forum for given directly back to development teams. OSGeo will 
typically expect co-contributions from interested sponsors, and would 
prefer to support code sprints which are of benefit to multiple projects 
and communities.


OSGeo is very supportive of educational initiatives which is helping the 
spread of OSGeo to students across the globe. This is currently focused 
around the growing network ofOpen Source Geospatial Research and 
Education Laboratories 
<http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Edu_current_initiatives>within Universities 
around the world.

This educational initiative is currently progressing well without 
requiring OSGeo's financial support.

      Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo's marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging 
and documentation efforts ofOSGeo-Live <http://live.osgeo.org/>, and to 
a lesser extend,osgeo4w <http://trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w/>. In 2012, 
OSGeo-Live was used at45 events 
<http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_History>without OSGeo's financial 
support. It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, by 140 
OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local 
events or sponsors.

In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses 
required to purchasenon-consumable items for conference booths 
<http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Exhibition_Pack>(such as a retractable banner).

In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing 
co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at 
conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

      Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo's marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In 
many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list 
and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for 
anExhibition starter pack 
<http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Exhibition_Pack>for local chapters. Local 
chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related 
events, as mentioned above.


OSGeo will continue to welcome sponsorship. Due to OSGeo's low capital 
model, we are able to make sponsor's contribution provide substantial 
benefit to the greater OSGeo community. In return, we promote sponsors' 
logos on our website and through our OSGeo-Live marketing pipeline 
(which was used at 45 geospatial events around the world in 2012).

However, OSGeo is doesn't plan to either task volunteers with 
specifically chasing sponsors, or hire someone to chase sponsorship on 
OSGeo's behalf.

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