Finding sponsors for Debian

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Finding sponsors for Debian

Thomas Goirand-3
Hi,

This is a question for all candidates.

Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that there's very
little money that Debian is able to get. I'm convinced that this
situation could change with a bit of involvement from the DPL, and that
such money could help a lot the project. For example, sending open
letters to big companies, and letting them know that we do accept
monetary contributions could help.

Also, comparing to derivative, I estimate that a distro like MiNT gets
as much as at least 3 times money just by google adwords and browser
start page. Of course, I'm not advocating for adwords on www.debian.org,
but I feel like there's a big room for improvement.

Having more money for travel sponsorship would really be great, and
could improve the project and its infrastructure.

Do the candidates feel the same way as I do? What types of actions could
be done to improve the current situation, which if I'm not mistaking,
isn't great this year?

Cheers,

Thomas


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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Wouter Verhelst
On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:16:42AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
> Hi,
>
> This is a question for all candidates.
>
> Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that there's very
> little money that Debian is able to get.

I don't agree with that assessment. I do think Debian is able to get the
money it needs; we don't need a lot.

Of course, it's unfortunate that the full details are not available.
There's been work on making Debian's monetary details more transparent,
but AFAIK there hasn't been anything made public on that yet. I suppose
this is something that will require some sort of follow-up with the
Auditors, who've been working on this.

> I'm convinced that this
> situation could change with a bit of involvement from the DPL, and that
> such money could help a lot the project. For example, sending open
> letters to big companies, and letting them know that we do accept
> monetary contributions could help.

I believe we already do such active searching for sponsorship in the
context of DebConf.

In addition to that, we're getting a lot of sponsorship in ways that are
not direct money: e.g., hardware, connectivity, or office space for
things like meetings and BSPs are also invaluable ways of helping the
project without spending money.

There are some problems with having too much money. If you, as an
organization, start having too much money on a bank account, you cannot
be considered a nonprofit anymore in some jurisdictions. Additionally,
if we have a lot of money, we could become a potential target for the
likes of patent trolls. We don't want that.

Having said all that, provided we don't overdo it, having more money
isn't necessarily a bad thing. If there are ways to attract more money
from donators, we should do so. I don't think sending letters to
companies is going to accomplish that, but that doesn't mean we
shouldn't try other things.

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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Kalle Kivimaa-3
On 12.3.2012, at 10.00, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> Of course, it's unfortunate that the full details are not available.
> There's been work on making Debian's monetary details more transparent,
> but AFAIK there hasn't been anything made public on that yet. I suppose
> this is something that will require some sort of follow-up with the
> Auditors, who've been working on this.
>

Well, most of the Debian monetary assets are held by SPI, and the SPI reports their assets publicly (the board meeting minutes), so this isn't a huge problem. It would be nice if the auditors would release a public yearly summary, though.



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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Mehdi Dogguy-5
In reply to this post by Wouter Verhelst
On 03/12/2012 09:00 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
>
> Having said all that, provided we don't overdo it, having more money
> isn't necessarily a bad thing. If there are ways to attract more
> money from donators, we should do so. I don't think sending letters
> to companies is going to accomplish that, but that doesn't mean we
> shouldn't try other things.
>

The question was precisely: what are “other things”? Can you be more
explicit?

Regards,

--
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http://dogguy.org/


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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Wouter Verhelst
On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:21:32AM +0100, Mehdi Dogguy wrote:

> On 03/12/2012 09:00 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> > Having said all that, provided we don't overdo it, having more money
> > isn't necessarily a bad thing. If there are ways to attract more
> > money from donators, we should do so. I don't think sending letters
> > to companies is going to accomplish that, but that doesn't mean we
> > shouldn't try other things.
> >
>
> The question was precisely: what are “other things”? Can you be more
> explicit?

I haven't thought about this much, but off the top of my head: we could
put a note in the release notes or in the installation manual, and/or
put something on the website, along the lines of "Debian is a volunteer
organization that relies on volunteer contributions for survival. You
can help!"

I believe this will be much more effective than sending a letter to a
company; that feels a bit more like begging to me, and might work
counterproductive.

Note that none of this requires personal involvement from the DPL,
however.

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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Stefano Zacchiroli
In reply to this post by Thomas Goirand-3
On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:16:42AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
> Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that there's very
> little money that Debian is able to get. I'm convinced that this
> situation could change with a bit of involvement from the DPL, and that
> such money could help a lot the project. For example, sending open
> letters to big companies, and letting them know that we do accept
> monetary contributions could help.

Let me start by observing the obvious: attracting money is not a goal
per se; Putting them into good use for Debian is. According to my DPL
experience, we have two main chapters in Debian budget: travel
sponsoring and hardware replacement.

On the second chapter, money availability hasn't been an issue up to
now: we have been able to replace fairly expensive servers (10 kEUR+)
without having to worry too much. That might change in the future,
depending on DSA needs, but we are not there yet. Either way, the real
bottleneck there is the *coordination* work that is involved with buying
hardware: getting quotes, picking vendors, choosing hosting, etc. It is
*a lot* of work and DSA is very good at it. But they could use some help
and that is why DSA members have been called in the past for people
helping with the formation of an hardware coordination team. I've
repeated various times their call for help, but the number of volunteers
has been scarce (hint hint).

On the first chapter --- travel sponsoring --- there are two main
sub-chapters: DebConf travel sponsoring and sprints. For the sake of
this discussion let me include in the latter sub-chapter travel expenses
related to Debian representatives who attend events on Debian budget: it
currently happens rarely enough not to warrant a separate category.
(Note/reminder: we have resolved last year that DebConf budget is part
of Debian budget, it is just earmarked differently for a time period
centered around the conference.)

For DebConf travel sponsoring, what you are asking for already happens.
The DebConf sponsor team each year go knocking at companies door asking
them to sponsor DebConf. The DPL is de facto a member of the DebConf
sponsoring team, because he/she usually have company contacts and is
happy to share with other team members.

DebConf travel sponsoring dominates our overall travel sponsoring costs,
so it makes sense to go knocking at companies door yearly as part of
DebConf organization. I don't think it would be useful to do so more
than once per year. Companies would feel split among the different calls
for donations and they would hardly give more. The DPL being already
part of the effort, I don't see margin of improvement on that front
either.

What *would* help is to have more people participate in the yearly
initiatives of the DebConf sponsor team. Coincidentally, this is
precisely the time of the year where DebConf people are working on
gathering sponsor. I hereby encourage anyone interested in this topic to
volunteer as a member of the DebConf sponsor team. It's easy, there is
plenty of easy coordination/bookkeeping work, and every company contact
you have could help.

> Do the candidates feel the same way as I do? What types of actions could
> be done to improve the current situation, which if I'm not mistaking,
> isn't great this year?

I'm not sure what do you mean with "isn't great this year". If you refer
to DebConf sponsors that is partly true. See above on what can be done
to improve :-)

In more general terms, I think the best way to encourage donations to
Debian is to show to the world that we know how to use the money to
benefit Debian. Nobody wants to donate to a bank. This has been one of
my main motivation to streamline sprint management and standardize the
procedures that give visibility to what we do during sprints:
http://wiki.debian.org/Sprints .

Showing what we are capable of doing with money has also been a
motivation for me to invest some time on periodic budged reports, an
ongoing task that I've discussed in more details in my platform.

Cheers.
--
Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on identi.ca   .......    o o o
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Stefano Zacchiroli
In reply to this post by Kalle Kivimaa-3
On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 10:09:09AM +0200, Kalle Kivimaa wrote:
> Well, most of the Debian monetary assets are held by SPI, and the SPI
> reports their assets publicly (the board meeting minutes), so this
> isn't a huge problem. It would be nice if the auditors would release a
> public yearly summary, though.

That used to be the case, but is no longer true. See for instance my
report about Debian finances (and sprints) at DebConf11:

  http://upsilon.cc/~zack/talks/2011/201107-dc11-money.pdf

back then we had more money at FFIS than SPI. A temporary justification
of that is that DebConf11 has been in the European continent but:

1) DebConf moves around and might bring with it similar fluctuations
   periodically

2) even at present, after the post-DebConf finance stabilization, the
   ratio of Debian money is something like 60% at SPI and 40% at FFIS
   (and used to be more close before the recent acquisition of expensive
   hardware on FFIS money)

The fact that SPI reports publicly and periodicly about their assets
does mitigate our money transparency problem. But it is far from solving
it.

Cheers.
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Arno Töll-4
In reply to this post by Stefano Zacchiroli
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

Hello,

On 12.03.2012 19:25, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:

> On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:16:42AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
>> Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that
>> there's very little money that Debian is able to get. I'm
>> convinced that this situation could change with a bit of
>> involvement from the DPL, and that such money could help a lot
>> the project. For example, sending open letters to big companies,
>> and letting them know that we do accept monetary contributions
>> could help.
>
> Let me start by observing the obvious: attracting money is not a
> goal per se; Putting them into good use for Debian is. According to
> my DPL experience, we have two main chapters in Debian budget:
> travel sponsoring and hardware replacement.

(cc:-ing -project as that's a more general discussion not directly
directed to DPL candidates but related. Maybe follow-ups should be
sent there)

as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
(i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
getting little "thank you" post cards or some merchandise (e.g. a
coffee mug or a T-Shirt) as a symbolic acknowledgement of gratidude.

Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better as
he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to Debian
as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax deductable
receipt.

- --
with kind regards,
Arno Töll
IRC: daemonkeeper on Freenode/OFTC
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Joey Schulze
Arno Töll wrote:

> as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
> FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
> donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
> clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
> interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
> sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
> could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
> (i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
> getting little "thank you" post cards or some merchandise (e.g. a
> coffee mug or a T-Shirt) as a symbolic acknowledgement of gratidude.

Here are some hints:

http://lists.debian.org/debian-announce/2010/msg00004.html
http://www.debian.org/News/2009/20090208

There are probably more if one searches more.

Regards,

        Joey

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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Stefano Zacchiroli
In reply to this post by Arno Töll-4
On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:55:25PM +0100, Arno Töll wrote:

> as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
> FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
> donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
> clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
> interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
> sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
> could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
> (i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
> getting little "thank you" post cards or some merchandise (e.g. a
> coffee mug or a T-Shirt) as a symbolic acknowledgement of gratidude.
>
> Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better as
> he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to Debian
> as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax deductable
> receipt.
Something that I've found to work well to "convince" $companies and
$bosses is DebConf sponsoring (which has a more recent incarnation of
the announcement posted by Martin is at
http://www.debian.org/News/2012/20120304 ) and
http://wiki.debian.org/Sprints .

The former works well because companies tend to know pretty well the
burden and costs of conference organization.

The latter works well, especially with FOSS-aware companies, because
there is quite some company culture that it is at developer meetings
that donated money "turn into code" (I've stolen the expression from a
Google representative. I don't particularly like it, but it has the
benefit of being effective).

At the risk of repeating myself, this is one of the reason why I've
insisted so much with indexing sprint and insisted so much for facto
sprint reports, at the point of documenting it as a sort of requirement
to ask for reimbursements.

Cheers.
--
Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on identi.ca   .......    o o o
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Gunnar Wolf
In reply to this post by Arno Töll-4
Arno Töll dijo [Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:55:25PM +0100]:

> as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
> FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
> donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
> clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
> interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
> sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
> could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
> (i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
> getting little "thank you" post cards or some merchandise (e.g. a
> coffee mug or a T-Shirt) as a symbolic acknowledgement of gratidude.

Well, we now have a Debian Auditor, a position that in part answers
precisely that kind of queries. And also, as said earlier in the
thread in d-vote, Debian's main annual expense is DebConf. DebConf
*tries* not to use Debian funds and to be as completely sponsor-funded
as possible. We have also published final status reports which,
although maybe not cent-by-cent, include a general insight on our main
money expenses — So you can think your $work helped fund some Debian
people to get to the DebConf that happened in $donation_year :-}

> Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better as
> he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to Debian
> as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax deductable
> receipt.

We have talked (and I mean in DebConf, that's the area of Debian I
spent most of my orga-work in) about allowing this year for a better
way of identifying precisely _what_ is a donor giving — As we did many
years ago, we will allow sponsors to target their money to a specific
target. So, i.e. we will be able to say "the conference dinner was
kindly sponsored by Toell.net". Does it sound interesting? :-}


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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Arno Töll-4
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Hi,

On 12.03.2012 23:19, Gunnar Wolf wrote:

>> Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian
>> better as he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money
>> donations to Debian as he didn't get much feedback about that,
>> other than a tax deductable receipt.
>
> We have talked (and I mean in DebConf, that's the area of Debian I
> spent most of my orga-work in) about allowing this year for a
> better way of identifying precisely _what_ is a donor giving — As
> we did many years ago, we will allow sponsors to target their money
> to a specific target. So, i.e. we will be able to say "the
> conference dinner was kindly sponsored by Toell.net". Does it sound
> interesting? :-}

heh, except that that's my private address (and you can find us in the
DC11 sponsor list with already (Holger can give you details :)), but
I'm not here to advertise ourselves).

We sponsored both, Debian and DebConf in the past but my boss does not
feel very comfortable to sponsor DebConfs because he's more interested
to support actual Debian work as a distribution, as Debian is the
system we rely upon for our business. I find that understandable from
an outsider's point of view as he'd like to show his appreciation for
a rock stable distribution with great tools in the first place.

However, let me repeat my point is not to mention our individual
situation, with my $work hat on. I'm more keen to make Debian a more
interesting target to donations and I think Debian lacks some
transparency and public-relation work to make us attractive to
sponsors. I'm sure there are plenty of links, mailing list posts and
asset reports - but is a bunch of links really all we want to throw to
a donator? We may like it or not, but it matters much how we present
ourselves if we want to collect money from people.



- --
with kind regards,
Arno Töll
IRC: daemonkeeper on Freenode/OFTC
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Thomas Goirand-3
In reply to this post by Wouter Verhelst
On 03/13/2012 12:18 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> we could
> put a note in the release notes or in the installation manual

Do you *seriously* think that this would help? :)

> and/or put something on the website

We have this on our from page already (eg: the Donations link).

Thomas


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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Holger Levsen-2
In reply to this post by Arno Töll-4
Hi,

On Montag, 12. März 2012, Arno Töll wrote:
> We sponsored both, Debian and DebConf in the past but my boss does not
> feel very comfortable to sponsor DebConfs because he's more interested
> to support actual Debian work as a distribution, as Debian is the
> system we rely upon for our business.

I think that means we failed to communicate (well enough) that sponsoring
DebConf, the conf, _means_ sponsoring Debian, the distribution.

Arno, maybe you can show your boss the (pretty short and pretty pretty pretty)
article Stefano wrote about this in the DebConf11 final report, right the
first one here:

http://media.debconf.org/dc11/report/DebConf11_FinalReport.pdf

But I've learned that we need to communicate this a whole lot better. Ideas
how?


cheers,
        Holger


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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Neil McGovern-5
On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:13:38AM +0100, Holger Levsen wrote:
> But I've learned that we need to communicate this a whole lot better. Ideas
> how
... would be best directed to debian-project :)

Neil
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Holger Levsen-2
In reply to this post by Stefano Zacchiroli
Hi Stefano,

On Montag, 12. März 2012, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> (Note/reminder: we have resolved last year that DebConf budget is part
> of Debian budget, it is just earmarked differently for a time period
> centered around the conference.)

IIRC you still need to reply to a mail I sent to leader@ about this, where I
question this or maybe parts of it :-) Let me summarize:

If DebConf goes well, this modell works nicely.

But if it goes really bad (not just a little), because the DebConf orga team
made some stupid decissions, bad mistakes, etc. I dont think Debian as a whole
should be liable for eg 100k€ losses. (As much as I dont want the individuals
/ the specific debconfX NGO to be in that debt for this, I do think if they
mess it up, they have to pay the bill.)

Comments how to fix properly are very welcome. Maybe it just needs some
cleaner wordings ;-)
Because probably most of this is already covered: _if_ $DebConf-Orga-person
does something out of gross negligence, it's not Debians (or DebConfs) fault
anyway. (ie someone drives a car (with the purpose of doing some requested
job) for DebConf, and then drives way too fast and crashes and cause 2mio €
damages.)

But what if we book (way too) $expensive_place now and then later have to
cancel this (and pay a huge cancelation fee) or have to take it, despite not
having the money...

Contracts/agreements are usually not needed if things go well, only if they
don't. I'm not sure we have good enough agreement (for the D/DC releationship)
for when^wif things go horrible wrong.

I havent finished thinking about this, but still wanted to bring this up on
the table now.

> DebConf travel sponsoring dominates our overall travel sponsoring costs,
> so it makes sense to go knocking at companies door yearly as part of
> DebConf organization. I don't think it would be useful to do so more
> than once per year. Companies would feel split among the different calls
> for donations and they would hardly give more. The DPL being already
> part of the effort, I don't see margin of improvement on that front
> either.

we need to ask for money *way* earlier. Starting now (for the conf happening
this year), is about 6 months too late.

(Also, but not only, because many companies donate money at the end of the
year...)
 
> What *would* help is to have more people participate in the yearly
> initiatives of the DebConf sponsor team.
> Coincidentally, this is
> precisely the time of the year where DebConf people are working on
> gathering sponsor. I hereby encourage anyone interested in this topic to
> volunteer as a member of the DebConf sponsor team. It's easy, there is
> plenty of easy coordination/bookkeeping work, and every company contact
> you have could help.

Amen! (Please join!)
 

cheers,
        Holger


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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Stefano Zacchiroli
On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 12:56:00PM +0100, Holger Levsen wrote:
> IIRC you still need to reply to a mail I sent to leader@ about this,
> where I question this or maybe parts of it :-) Let me summarize:

I don't think so :-), but I might be wrong of course. Please prod me at
[hidden email] if you confirm it's the case.

> If DebConf goes well, this modell works nicely.
>
> But if it goes really bad (not just a little), because the DebConf orga team
> made some stupid decissions, bad mistakes, etc. I dont think Debian as a whole
> should be liable for eg 100k€ losses. (As much as I dont want the individuals
> / the specific debconfX NGO to be in that debt for this, I do think if they
> mess it up, they have to pay the bill.)

Well, DebConf chairs are DPL delegates for a reason, and this is a big
part of it. This means that the Project, via the DPL, trusts you to be
responsible with the DebConf budget. It is a big responsibility, as I'm
sure you realize. In choosing the people who are now appointed as DPL
chairs, I've indeed looked for a good mix of skills that I thought are
needed to run DebConf. That included the ability to keep an eye on the
budget and stay away from risky agreements.

But the delegation also means that if you screw up badly, it will be
Debian who would have screwed up badly. That is part of the game. And
while you surely feel more the risk of screwing up with DebConf budgets
(a very healthy fear, if you ask me), there are plenty of other places
where Developers with responsibility in the project might screw up and
endanger the Project. Again, that is part of the game. By only looking
at worst case scenarios you simply end up doing nothing: we should
rather evaluate risks, try to minimize them, and then go for it.

... and speaking about risk minimization, part of the DebConf / Debian
"reconciliation" discussions included the presentation of a _tentative_
conference budget to the DPL for review before starting spending
money. That is a sensible safeguard measure, IMHO, and I'm looking
forward to start practicing with it :-)

Cheers.
--
Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on identi.ca   .......    o o o
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Gunnar Wolf
In reply to this post by Holger Levsen-2
I'm redirecting this thread to d-project... You and I tend to think
about money very much DebConf-wise (specially in the March-July period
;-) ), but I think this is going away from the current d-vote
topic. Please reply to this message to d-project only.

Holger Levsen dijo [Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 12:56:00PM +0100]:

> > (Note/reminder: we have resolved last year that DebConf budget is part
> > of Debian budget, it is just earmarked differently for a time period
> > centered around the conference.)
>
> IIRC you still need to reply to a mail I sent to leader@ about this, where I
> question this or maybe parts of it :-) Let me summarize:
>
> If DebConf goes well, this modell works nicely.
>
> But if it goes really bad (not just a little), because the DebConf orga team
> made some stupid decissions, bad mistakes, etc. I dont think Debian as a whole
> should be liable for eg 100k€ losses. (As much as I dont want the individuals
> / the specific debconfX NGO to be in that debt for this, I do think if they
> mess it up, they have to pay the bill.)
>
> Comments how to fix properly are very welcome. Maybe it just needs some
> cleaner wordings ;-)
> Because probably most of this is already covered: _if_ $DebConf-Orga-person
> does something out of gross negligence, it's not Debians (or DebConfs) fault
> anyway. (ie someone drives a car (with the purpose of doing some requested
> job) for DebConf, and then drives way too fast and crashes and cause 2mio €
> damages.)
>
> But what if we book (way too) $expensive_place now and then later have to
> cancel this (and pay a huge cancelation fee) or have to take it, despite not
> having the money...
>
> Contracts/agreements are usually not needed if things go well, only if they
> don't. I'm not sure we have good enough agreement (for the D/DC releationship)
> for when^wif things go horrible wrong.
>
> I havent finished thinking about this, but still wanted to bring this up on
> the table now.
I'll just answer to this by stating that I... Agree with your general
view and worry. Of course, the way a specific controversy (or
situation-gone-terrible) is solved depends on the situation, and
should be dealt with case by case. But, yes, in the moment we formally
acknowledged that DebConf is Debian (and not, as it was +- managed
before, that DebConf is *for* Debian), the project gives us some
liability coverage... Which we, of course, prefer not to use!

> > DebConf travel sponsoring dominates our overall travel sponsoring costs,
> > so it makes sense to go knocking at companies door yearly as part of
> > DebConf organization. I don't think it would be useful to do so more
> > than once per year. Companies would feel split among the different calls
> > for donations and they would hardly give more. The DPL being already
> > part of the effort, I don't see margin of improvement on that front
> > either.
>
> we need to ask for money *way* earlier. Starting now (for the conf happening
> this year), is about 6 months too late.
>
> (Also, but not only, because many companies donate money at the end of the
> year...)
Right. DebConf produces quite a bit of burnout syndrome, where we
don't want to even think about it for several months. And those are
the aptest months for sponsor acquisition - And for testing some
important improvements (say, as in the Penta replacement we have
pending).

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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Gergely Nagy-7
In reply to this post by Stefano Zacchiroli
Since my thoughts have been pretty much summed up far better than I
could, I'd like to refer to Stefano's answers, as - apart from the
experience bits, as I obviously have no DPL experience - are very much
like my own would have been.

Stefano Zacchiroli <[hidden email]> writes:

> On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:16:42AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
>> Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that there's very
>> little money that Debian is able to get. I'm convinced that this
>> situation could change with a bit of involvement from the DPL, and that
>> such money could help a lot the project. For example, sending open
>> letters to big companies, and letting them know that we do accept
>> monetary contributions could help.
>
> Let me start by observing the obvious: attracting money is not a goal
> per se; Putting them into good use for Debian is.

I'd like to add here, that in my opinion, there are other ways companies
can help Debian, not necessarily just plain money (or hardware)
donations.

Sponsoring the DebConf or sprint travel expenses of their own employees
for example is one such way, and perhaps easier to achieve this than to
persuade them to donate money, that they don't directly know how will be
used. Even if it would be completely transparent what Debian spent its
money on, and even if donations could have usage restrictions (I do not
know if they can, or if they're desirable at all - I believe they're
counter-productive), I'd still find it a little bit easier to persuade a
company to sponsor their own people.

Of course, this largely depends on which company we're talking about -
some can afford to donate in general, and let Debian use that money as
it sees fit. Some are smaller, and would like to help Debian in one way
or the other, but would like a little bit more control on how that money
is spent. Allowing their employees to travel to Debian-related events,
or work for Debian during their paid time can be a nice little boost,
too.

> According to my DPL experience, we have two main chapters in Debian
> budget: travel sponsoring and hardware replacement.
[...]

> For DebConf travel sponsoring, what you are asking for already happens.
> The DebConf sponsor team each year go knocking at companies door asking
> them to sponsor DebConf. The DPL is de facto a member of the DebConf
> sponsoring team, because he/she usually have company contacts and is
> happy to share with other team members.
>
> DebConf travel sponsoring dominates our overall travel sponsoring costs,
> so it makes sense to go knocking at companies door yearly as part of
> DebConf organization. I don't think it would be useful to do so more
> than once per year. Companies would feel split among the different calls
> for donations and they would hardly give more. The DPL being already
> part of the effort, I don't see margin of improvement on that front
> either.

I too, agree that it wouldn't be useful to go knocking more than once a
year, but - as mentioned above - there's another option: not direct
donations, but things like sponsoring one's own employees. That can
benefit both Debian (since more people can attend DebConf, for example),
and the company (because the event also has the potential of being
extremely useful for those participating).

They'll know that their money went into 'their' guy, and they still
helped Debian in some way.

I'm pretty sure this is done already, but perhaps a little more emphasis
on this wouldn't hurt - along with what we're doing now, of course.

[...]

> In more general terms, I think the best way to encourage donations to
> Debian is to show to the world that we know how to use the money to
> benefit Debian. Nobody wants to donate to a bank. This has been one of
> my main motivation to streamline sprint management and standardize the
> procedures that give visibility to what we do during sprints:
> http://wiki.debian.org/Sprints .
>
> Showing what we are capable of doing with money has also been a
> motivation for me to invest some time on periodic budged reports, an
> ongoing task that I've discussed in more details in my platform.

This is a task that needs to be continued, indeed.

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