[Osmf-talk] Financing the OSMF

Simon Poole simon at osmfoundation.org
Mon Aug 26 10:54:04 UTC 2013

[This is a topic of some personal interest to me and hasn't been
discussed in depth nor has the discussion of this been sanctioned by the

One of the issues that I believe we need to attack is the financing of
the OSMF. I've mentioned this before in the articles of association
discussions. Given that we now have 2012 financials as some facts to
check our assumptions against, I would like to see if there are some
ideas other than my own (the topic just doesn't seem to interest very
much) that might be interesting to pursue.

To illustrate the issues, lets look at the 2012 numbers. Leaving the
earmarked donations for hardware and depreciation away and income and
expense for SOTM (more on that later), we have roughly

£3'000 income from membership fees
£3'000 of misc. income


£12'000     of operational expenses (hosting etc)
£4'000        insurance
£2'000        bank charges and other misc expenses
£6'500        accounting and legal
£5'000        expenses
£6'000        professional fees (I suspect this was one time,
historically this item was always negligible)

of the above at least the hosting, insurance, accounting and bank
charges are unavoidable recurring fixed costs. Comparing  our "secured"
regular income (£'3000) with these costs (£25'000) we see an annual
short fall of at least £22'000 (assuming that travel expenses and
professional fees are not really necessary). Historically this hasn't
been an issue because we have been able to rely on SOTM turning a neat
profit, however there is no guarantee that this will continue and it is
unfair in the sense that it adds an unspoken requirement on the SOTM
organizers that may be very difficult to fulfil.

Further, we are not exactly splurging on our operational costs, if we
would have to pay anything near commercial rates we would likely be at
least 10 times higher. It seems unlikely that with growth we will be
able to maintain the extremely low rate of £1'000 per month in any case.

I believe the issue is clear, we need a medium to long term model for
financing the OSMF. My personal favourite solution would be to balance
out our fixed costs with a similar amount of fixed income. Based on the,
not unreasonable, feeling that it is relatively easy to get donations
for hardware, asking the same to cover insurance is likely not to work.
Assuming further that we are not going to change our business model, our
only potential source of such fixed income are our membership fees, and
given that we would rather lower, than increase such fees for
individuals, that leaves fees for corporate membership as the only
source of such income.

But, as I wrote above, maybe there are other viable scenarios and ideas.
If you have such, please bring them to the table.




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