[Debian-sponsors-discuss] Debian fundraising thoughts.

Brian Gupta brian.gupta at brandorr.com
Mon Feb 25 06:47:56 UTC 2013


I've been on and off involved with DebConf fundraising since DC10, and
have some observations and ideas that have developed over the years.
(I brought this up to Zack, and he encouraged me to get together with
like minded folks and see what we can come up with, hence this list,
and this discussion.) Please consider it a starting point for
discussion, and feel free to add any ideas you might have.

1) Although DebConf is the largest "line item" on the Debian budget,
my sense is that we need to have a coordinated fundraising sponsorship
effort/team, that incorporates fundraising for DebConf, as well as
other initiatives.

2) I'd like to see Debian Fundraising efforts start looking towards
recurring revenue streams, so we don't have to do a mad scramble every
time we need money (e.g. - every year for DebConf.) Yes, this will
take many many years to accomplish, and we will likely never
completely replace our annual fundraising efforts with recurring
revenue streams.

3) "Fundraising drives" with matching contributions from sponsor
grants, seem to be an effective component of many fundraising efforts
for other organizations. (My company is doing a test this year, and is
granting $5000 to Debian/Debconf13, to fund a matching pool for
individual contributions of up to $100 each.) If it works, and perhaps
even if it doesn't, I think Debian should have such a program as a
longterm component of fundraising. (If it works, we'd look to find
additional sponsors to contribute to the matching fund.)

4) One challenge for DebConf fundraising is that the levels and
benefits of sponsoring DebConf change year over year, (including
changing currencies.) which is a challenge for many sponsors.

5) I feel like those sponsors who are sponsoring DebConf are really
sponsoring Debian, and as such, should be recognized as such. One
thing I have observed that seems an interesting model here, is that
the Linux Foundation has Platinum, Gold and Silver memberships, with a
fixed annual set of dues, that do not change. One of the benefits of
becoming a paid Linux Foundation member is discounts on sponsorship of
their conferences. I think this is a great model, and wonder what it
would take to do the same for Debian? I'd like to see those companies
that give year after year, have most of their funds flagged as Debian
sponsorship, and have them get a large discount on the conference
sponsorship fees. This still allows for local host country sponsors,
who are unlikely to give again, to still just contribute directly to
the conference, and allow us to adjust the sponsorship levels for the
conference without having an outsize impact on those companies that
earmark funds for debian in their annual budgets.)  These primary
Debian sponsorships would be a fixed annual amount, in a fixed

6) In the light of recurring revenue, I'd like to see if we can setup
something like the FSF has, where individuals can sign up to give a
small amount every month that gets charged automatically from their
credit cards. For example, one can give $10/month as an associate
member to the FSF and that becomes a recurring revenue stream. Yes
we'd need a lot of these to pay for an event like DebConf, but
generally these dues add up as their paid membership increases.
(forgive me if we have this already, but we definitely need to add at
least Paypal to the mix.)

7) There is not enough continuity in the DebConf fundraising efforts,
as each year many of the team (who are local to the host location)
move on. It's also quite bursty, and it would probably be a good idea
to have some members of the fundraising team that aren't focused on
shortterm efforts like DebConf available to work on long term

8) In corporate sponsorship, I feel that we must make allowances for
smaller organizations, at the lowest tier. e.g. silver should have a
lower barrier of entry for smaller companies. (Again this idea came
from the Linux Foundation's model.)

9) Need to figure out what to do about sponsorship coming in from many
countries and currencies. I feel some rationalization here would make
life easier for sponsors, as well as fundraising teams.

I can expound on any of these points if I wasn't clear.


P.S. - I have a few additional thoughts, but I think this is enough to
get things started.

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