[Osmf-talk] Financing the OSMF

Gregory Marler sotm at livingwithdragons.com
Mon Aug 26 16:40:40 UTC 2013

I think the finances of the OSMF is very important at the moment.

To-date I think it's been rather relaxed, money comes in when SotM has 
excess and the occasional donation drive or company offerings help us 
buy new servers. It's worked well like that, because there wasn't too 
much needed and management of too much money can cause a lot of work. 
However now the lack of strategy/vision for finances is starting to 
cause a problem. There was a class this year with SotM seeking sponsors 
at the same time a donation drive was announced. To me it also showed up 
a lack of continued relationships. If you're dealing with other 
organisations, especially asking for money, it's really helpful to get 
the same person to contact that organisations.

My point is, it's key for OSMF to have some sort of 
CRM(customer-relations management) system, even if that's an 
online/shared spreadsheet. This will help get the foundation ordered 
with it's relationships and from there consider long-term possibilities 
of corporate support.

This discussion is good to start, and good that we will have it in mind 
when some of us meet at SotM.
But SotM means a lot of stuff is going on and minds will be busy. In 
particular, the OSMF board will change by 2-3 people in two weeks time. 
It might be best for discussions to continue, and go further, following 

Gregory Marler

On 26/08/13 11:54, Simon Poole wrote:
> [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
> board]
> 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
> versus
> £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.
> Simon
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