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Re: two questions: fund raising money and publicity

Hi Gunnar,

On 20/03/14 at 12:55 -0600, Gunnar Wolf wrote:
> Ana Guerrero Lopez dijo [Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 10:21:20AM +0100]:
> > * Fundraising
> > 
> > DebConf is one of the biggest expenses of Debian, every year we look
> > for sponsorship and we had (and have) sponsors who were sponsoring
> > DebConf as a way of giving their "annual donation" to Debian and
> > not necessarily funding DebConf itself.
> > (Do you agree with this part, BTW?)
> > In recent years, we have started to invest more Debian money in stuaff
> > such like sprints and minidebconfs¹ that sometimes look for external
> > founding. This has lead to some  cases where sponsors have been
> > contacted for separate teams in Debian which can be confusing.
> > If you think this is a problem. How do you think we can improve this?
> > 
> > ¹ Both investments are a great idea BTW
> Hi Ana, and thanks for bringing this up. I want to add a point to your
> question by moving a request/discussion I should be commenting on in
> the DebConf world, but is completely relevant to what you say. So, DPL
> candidates, please also comment on this!
> A fundamental part of DebConf organization (and a part I'm basically
> unfamiliar with, as I've always shied away from those aspects) is
> sponsor acquisition. And, of course, DebConf cannot (and is not
> expected) to reach a perfect balance — some years we end up with a
> surplus, and sometimes we have to ask Debian for money. Fortunately
> (and thanks to the great, hard work of the people doing sponsor
> scouting), the overall balance is quite equilibrated.
> As you can see on the DebConf13 final report¹, last year was a great
> success in this regard: Not only we stayed quite under the estimated
> budget, but we raised one of the largest sponsorship amounts in our
> history.
> But, as Ana says in this mail, many sponsors view this money they are
> giving as their "annual donation" to Debian. Not all of Debian's
> expenses are as publicized as DebConf is, and it might be hard to get
> the money just for our regular running costs and upgrade plans, or for
> smaller conferences/sprints, or whatever.
> Now, DebConf has followed the policy of not counting of a given year's
> surplus as income for our next edition. All of the surplus of
> DebConf13 becomes, just as DC13 is finalized, regular Debian money.
> Now... Being five months before DC14, we still have a long time to get
> more sponsors. But we are also at the point in time that most likely
> seems dismal. We are in no way at a "failure" point, but the DC14 team
> asked Lucas (and us chairs) for Debian to make a funding commitment of
> up to the DC13 surplus.
> So... I want to make this specific case more into the generic case,
> not specifically discussing DC14. I know (from historical trends) that
> we are at a point where tension is building, and close to DebConf
> things will automagically start working. I don't know how, but it
> tends to work that way ;-) 
> So, back to the case: What's your take on this issue? How much can one
> part of the Debian universe of subprojects expect the money it
> generated be available for its future? Should we set a clear number?

I think I already answered this at least partially in
https://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2014/03/msg00192.html, so I will
give some more details, specifically for the DebConf case.

Ideally, I think that:
1) we should have a "partners" program that would allow us to track our
recurring sponsors, and ask them to do their yearly donation to
*Debian* (not DebConf).
2) the funding for events such as DebConf or Mini-DebConfs would come
from a mix of Debian funding (thus, indirectly, from the recurring
partners), and from local sponsors.
3) we would have a better understanding of the yearly annual Debian
budget (including DebConf's), which would make all money-related
decisions easier.

That's where I hope we will be in one or two years, which doesn't really
help with DC14.

For DC14, it seems that the DebConf team has more problems finding
sponsors than expected (especially the smaller, often local sponsors --
for DC13, 60% of the funding came from 30 organizations given 6kCHF or

A successful DebConf is very important to Debian, and a successful
DebConf requires enough funding to gather many Debian contributors (many
of them, with sponsored accomodation and travel). Given the importance
of DebConf for Debian, I've told Steve that I would be willing to
extend Debian's funding of DebConf beyond what was originally planned.
However, if that ends up being required, I would expect the DebConf team
to seek as many cost reductions as possible, to limit the impact on
Debian's future ability to fund other things, such as infrastructure.


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