[OSGeo-Discuss] FW: OSGeo Board Priorities
bruce.bannerman.osgeo at gmail.com
Mon Mar 4 14:43:09 PST 2013
Cameron and 'The Board',
Thanks for putting these thoughts together.
This seems like a good strategic approach to take.
*From: *Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com>
*Date: *Mon, 4 Mar 2013 10:44:42 +1100
*To: *OSGeo Discussions, OSGeo-Board List
*Subject: *[OSGeo-Discuss] OSGeo Board Priorities
A productive 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
Current priority areas include:
- Global, regional and local FOSS4G related events, or events which
include a FOSS4G stream.
- Marketing OSGeo, which is currently focused around OSGeo-Live <
- Education, which is currently focused around the network of Open
Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratories <
- Local Chapters, as outreach initiatives are typically driven at the
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
- 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
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
Other spatial conferences regularly request an OSGeo involvement, such as
providing presenters <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Advocate> ,
workshops, OSGeo-Live DVDs for distribution <
, or providing 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
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 of Open 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 of OSGeo-Live <http://live.osgeo.org/> , and to a
lesser extend, osgeo4w <http://trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w/> . In 2012,
OSGeo-Live was used at 45 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
In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses
required to purchase non-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.
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 an Exhibition
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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