Re: Donations to SPI vs associated projects

From: "Bradley M(dot) Kuhn" <bkuhn(at)ebb(dot)org>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Donations to SPI vs associated projects
Date: 2015-07-16 17:14:55
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I probably have some useful expertise to share on this thread, speaking
less as a mundane SPI member, but more from my day-job at Conservancy.

Conservancy and SPI are very close in the core of what we do, although
we do it very differently (which is good -- it gives projects two very
different options for similar services).

Conservancy does a *lot* for our member projects (what SPI calls
associated projects), including helping them fundraise. Thus, we have a
good sense of what projects can typically raise. Some of our projects
raise a lot of money each year ("lot" is of course relative, but a lot
compared to the throughput of the average SPI or Conservancy project).

We take 10% of donated funds to our general fund, as opposed to SPI's
5%. Even so, Conservancy's annual budgeted amount is only about $40k
from that revenue source. That's barely enough for one low-level
staffer in the USA, esp. when you factor in benefits.

I admit that in the mid-200s, we initially thought the 10% would
ultimately cover staffing Conservancy, because we hoped project would
raise millions, and there'd be enough to run Conservancy. Ultimately,
there just isn't that much money in community-oriented Free Software
projects. That's not a bad thing of course -- Free Software projects
are great at doing a lot with just a little moeny -- but it informs this
decision SPI is trying to make:

Ultimately, I suspect SPI will never raise enough from 5-10% from your
associated project donations to fund the administration work for the
project. Thus, you *will* need to seek outside funding, one way or
another as a long term solution.

(BTW, as a short term solution, Conservancy is already in discussions
with various executives of SPI in the hopes that we can share more of
our know-how and resources to ease SPI's administrative burden. I hope
those talks will be fruitful, and Conservancy is excited to help bolster
SPI a bit if we can.)

But, as it stands, SPI should start thinking now about how it's going to
raise enough funds to at least get one staffer long-term to handle
administrative work.

Finally, it probably sounds like I'm arguing that SPI shouldn't
fundraise for its projects -- but I'm not arguing least. Rather, what
I'm arguing is that you might want to consider doing what Conservancy

Generally speaking, Conservancy encourages our projects to put up
donation mechanisms for themselves on their own websites, but
Conservancy's own fundraising on its own website is generally just for
Conservancy's general fund, with a small comment indicating that
donation buttons for member projects can be found on those projects'
websites. e.g.:

I think it's a reasonable compromise for SPI too. It seems not too far
off either from what's already being done at ... the addition would be giving
associated projects buttons to use that auto-direct to their project.
-- bkuhn

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