[Osmf-talk] Operating reserves

Jean-Marc Liotier jm at liotier.org
Mon Dec 14 21:47:10 UTC 2020

As a new member of the Board, I wish to start term my with a fundamental 
topic - the Openstreetmap Foundation's operating reserves.

In answer to a guest question during the December 12th General Meeting, 
Alan Mustard mentioned that the Openstreetmap Foundation strives to keep 
a reserve amounting to three years of operational expenses. The 
Treasurer's report's profit and losses 
show yearly operating expenses amounting to 130k£ and the Balance Sheet 
shows net assets at 621 k£ - of which even the 400 k£ in the reserves 
savings account does cover about three years. From a cursory survey of 
non-profits, three years is at the prudent end of the range, so I think 
it is a reasonable goal to continue pursuing.

Nevertheless, this satisfactory state of affairs remains the informal 
result of the Board's cautious management. In keeping with my pledge of 
reinforcing the Openstreetmap Foundation's financial sustainability, I 
wish to take it a step further and advocate for the Board to produce an 
Operating Reserve Policy for a Board-Designated Operating Reserve.

As a novice in the business of operating reserves policies, I have 
sought best practices and found the Grantmakers in the Arts' Operating 
Reserve Policy Toolkit for Nonprofit Organization 
to cover a lot of ground - interested individuals might wish to take a 

Among other things, an Operating Reserve Policy would need to include 
procedures, governance and conditions for drawdown and replenishment.

This comes too late to be made a topic of the 18th December Board 
meeting, so I'll propose it for the January meeting. Meanwhile, let us 
please discuss the desirability of such policy and what it might entail.

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