[OSGeo-Discuss] Proposed process for selecting OSGeo charter members

Howard Butler howard at hobu.co
Mon Jun 23 07:12:27 PDT 2014

On Jun 20, 2014, at 7:38 AM, Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks Paul, Dimitris and Peter for your thoughts.
> Comments inline.
> On 20/06/2014 4:31 am, Paul Ramsey wrote:
>> http://www.aag.org/cs/membership/individual_membership
>> http://www.aag.org/cs/membership/individual_membership/dues
>> Both simpler, and better for the bottom line of OSGeo, if you want to
>> be a member, sign up as a member, collect your t-shirt, see you @
>> foss4g.
> Yes Paul, "pay for membership" is simple, but I'd argue that the value of OSGeo and OSGeo communities is the volunteer time we contribute, and "pay membership" wouldn't capture that.

This property is the nature of a professional organization, which in my opinion, OSGeo clearly is. There are a number of strong reasons why small annual fees for membership are very attractive. The first is there's no struggling with members who've dropped off, haven't voted, are no longer participating. Second, anyone who wants to associate themselves can simply do so by paying dues. Finally, a consistent, if small, operating revenue. 

The voting process has been an ad-hoc affair since the beginnings of the organization. Every year it the rules are tweaked. Every year members who've dropped off need to be nagged. Every year we end up just taking everyone who's nominated anyway. It's a lot of overhead and volunteer cost for very little gain.

It is certain there are people who wish to be professionally associated with OSGeo who are unable to become members because they haven't generated enough public profile to be nominated. You can't nominate yourself. It's a chicken and egg problem that simply dissolves with paid-but-small membership dues.

OSGeo's main revenue stream is the FOSS4G conference. It is an event run on the backs of local chapter volunteers. Please correct me otherwise, but I do not think any local chapter who has hosted FOSS4G has ever put in a proposal to host it again. This well may eventually run dry. Or, it may run dry for a year or two. 80-100k/year (~$50-70/year * 1500 persons) of membership dues is plenty to keep the lights on through droughts and still allow the organization to move forward. 

At the inception of the organization, a driving factor toward our current membership structure is because OSGeo is a volunteer organization, it shouldn't require members to pay money. I think this is misguided. Every other professional organization of which I'm a member requires membership dues. As an IRS classification, a professional organization has a clear path forward. 

I am a professional open source Geo/GIS software developer. I want to belong to a professional organization that represents me. I would be happy to pay some nominal membership dues that a) signify my membership, b) provide financial buffer for the organization to achieve its mission, and 3) clearly signal what the rules are to become a member.

My $0.02.


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