[okfn-coord] Some business plans for discussion at next week's meeting

paula le dieu paula at ledieu.org
Sun Jun 14 15:08:48 UTC 2009

I find it challenging to assess the business models as I don't feel like I
yet have a really good sense of what OKF would like to have achieved in that
3 year timeframe.

I think that having a single full time point of contact is a great aim if
you want to make a public policy/media impact around a set of issues and/or
secure large institutional funding (completely agree with Jo's experience on
this). In this way I think it was the right strategy for ORG in order to
maximise its impact. However, it isn't clear to me that OKF is headed in
that direction? Or if it is then it is much more about providing the
framework for a unified voice for an ever increasing number of
projects/institutions/individuals that identify with OKF's "open"
definitions and drive towards providing greater access to knowledge?

Sorry, more questions than answers. I know that the immediate and extremely
important goal is to remove the financial burden of running OKF from the
shoulders of individual founders. But beyond that what would we (and
potentially those giving us £5 a month) consider to be a really great
outcome for the next 12, 24 and 36 months?


ps. if this has been covered - sorry - please send me the url or ref :)

2009/6/12 Jo Walsh <jo at frot.org>

> dear Becky, all,
> On Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 12:10 PM, Becky Hogge<becky.hogge at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > These are not intended to be either final or prescriptive, they are
> merely a
> > starting point for conversation about where we want to guide OKFN in
> > the future, and how we might eventually finance a full time community
> > coordinator. If they are not helpful, there's no need to pursue them,
> > however, I hope at least that they can start an interesting
> > discussion.
> I'd like to write a bit more about the experience of the OSGeo Foundation
> over the last few years, as I don't want to ramble on about this in the
> telecon
> but i find a lot of common ground here.
> Three years ago OSGeo hired a fulltime Executive Director to be in a
> "community coordinator"-like role (some open source foundations have a
> "Community Manager" - mostly labelling, with a lot of job description
> overlap)
> Our core sponsors wanted to have a central point of contact, to see a face
> as a "brand ambassador", and were confused by a many-headed entity.
> They would be covering the ED salary and expenses outright, so why not?
> At the time, Arnulf Christl (now the OSGeo president) had deep reservations
> about taking on one full-time person and came up with an German folk saying
> along the lines of "the energy flows round the edge of the centre,
> and when you fill the centre, what happens to the energy."
> I would definitely say that when since we have taken on a full-time ED/CC,
> there's been a real drop-off in volunteer involvement - particularly with
> maintaining the website, doing outreach at events, planning and running
> the conference each year. Now, some of this is just due to the passage
> of time - a big burst of early enthusiasm fading out. But some of it is due
> to the (mostly erroneous) assumption on the part of members that
> "there is someone to take care of it", for a lot of values of "it".
> So our staffer has ended up being lumped with a lot of administrivia
> that really oughtn't be his job (tax filings, accounts preparation,
> editing)
> and of course has only had time to focus on some activities of the
> Foundation's community - (marketing, user groups, the conference)
> at the expense of others (education materials and data packaging)
> because there is much more than one person can coordinate.
> It's also been hard for a large, busy Board of volunteers to really
> offer feedback and oversight and review to a fulltime staffer.
> It's a big timesink, so it either doesn't happen or uses up the time/energy
> of Board members which could be going straight to the foundation's work.
> (Those of you involved with ORG know much more about this, I'm sure :) )
> OSGeo's core sponsor's agreement was to sustain the foundation for 3 years
> and then re-assess their commitment. Other good prospects for sponsors
> have vanished in "la crisis", so our ED is likely to lose his job by 2010.
> :(
> It has to be a very conscious decision to become funder-supported
> at this kind of scale, and it really seems to change the flavour of a
> volunteer-driven organisation.
> While OSGeo was having a long debate about scaling up, and the pressures
> of having to maintain funding year-on-year, i kept thinking of OKFN
> as a prime example of the rootsy, flexible way of doing things (and still
> do).
> I like Becky's 3-phase budget a lot but i would like to think of it in
> terms
> of creative ways to spend money on more projects (like opentextbook,
> which could have a lot of potential with the right partners).
> If we are lucky enough to find ourselves in phase 2 or 3, i would like
> to see that money used to hire several people to work part-time on
> different aspects of OKFN's work, rather than one full-timer.
> Simply by communicating with each other they would communicate
> with the rest of us, and if harder times or personal difficulties come
> along,
> it's easier to down-scale again.
> cheers,
> jo
> --
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> okfn-coord at lists.okfn.org
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