Targeting potential sources of supporting core contribution

Submitted by YesCT on Fri, 11/08/2013 - 14:08


Problem: Contributors to Drupal are not, in general, excellent fundraisers.

Proposal: Hire people excellent in fundraising and use the money to fund Drupal contributions.


How do we fund people contributing to Drupal? Do we have to find new sources? How do we find new sources that would get the most benefit from *starting* to contribute and sponsor the Drupal community.

There are a lot of different groups that support the community, take even one group: companies, and two kinds: those already supportive and those not yet supportive.

Companies that understand the benefits they get from supporting the community in general... already support the community.

Companies that do not give back to Drupal, or give their workers contribution time, are hard to identify, approach, and convince.

Tapping resources that are already tapped out

Already supportive companies do one or more of:

  • give meetups free space to meet
  • sponsor Drupal cons and camps
  • give their employees X time to work on open source. (1 day a week, 5% time, etc. or won't let them work more than 30 hours a week)
  • pay for employee travel and conference tickets
  • give employees time off to allow them to travel to events (even if they dont pay for the event, this is still really important to some people)
  • are drupal association members, or supporting partners
  • fund targeted sprint events
  • sponsor individuals for a short time to work on specific initiatives

So when I approach a company and ask for general core contribution funding, I feel like I'm asking too much, because it is on top of the things they are *already* doing.

When I approach a company that does not yet do community funding, ... I'm not sure how to word the letter so that it will pierce through to the heart of where the letter needs to be. Let's come back to that in a bit.

Sustained funding, but not fundraising: Gittip

I'm a fan of Gittip. It is a good solution piece in the great big funding puzzle. It does have a key problem though: getting money into the Gittip system.

Gittip attempts to enable contributors to have a consistent ongoing source of funds. Gittip is providing sustained support for me and some other Drupalers.

But, as Dusty says in I’m Not Selling Out The Gittip Dream, "I believe one of the biggest problems Gittip has to solve is not increasing it’s member base, but increasing the amount of money being injected into the system. If small tips are just moving from one open source developer to another and back again ..., the money really has no value."

I feel like part of the money I get via gittip is coming from people I know, friends. So I think the Drupal gittip community could benefit from more corporate infusion of funds. MaxCDN, Drupalize.Me, and BuildAModule are the top corporate Drupal gittip community sponsors. Other top givers are regifting or generous individuals.

Drupal could use more companies adopting the Khan Academy model, where every developer gets $5 a week to decide who to gittip, but the money comes from the corporate account. They are currently putting in $70 a week.

Drupal companies can get on the top Drupal funder list on gittip, with only $25/week.

But how does money otherwise get infused? Individuals tweet, and may fill out their gittip url on their d.o profile. Not exactly a targeted fundraising strategy.

CMI example of targeted fundraising

@heyrocker spent a great deal of effort fundraising to get paid time (33 weeks, for not a lot of pay) to work on the Configuration Management Initiative. Greg had "funding proposals" and sent them to companies. And he had a targeted initiative which could clearly provide a return on investment argument.

Greg's example clearly shows that for sponsorships, skilled, dedicated fundraising is needed.

At 5 minutes, 40 seconds Greg addresses core funding in Portland Drupalcon Core Conversation, then open mic questions and answers start at 17 minutes, 45 seconds.

Real fundraising, that can target the right sources

There is more to fundraising than approaching companies, or Gittip. Diverse skilled fundraising includes: membership, major giving, corporate support, grants, and events. It is a profession, and we should be looking for professionals to do it correctly.

Drupal Association

Some people think that the Drupal Association is not allowed to fundraise and then give contributors the money to work on Drupal code.

Other people think that they could, but they could not tell those people what to work on, that the Association cannot *direct* the code. See section 1.1.4.

Despite that controversy, the DA seems well placed to actually do fundraising to fund contribution.

A non-profit cooperative for core developers

Matthew Tift, mtift, has been talking about the possibility of a cooperative, which would hire a fundraiser, and then also core developers. That way the developers would not have to serve a dual role and be both good at their job and also fundraising.

I have no accurate numbers besides my wild guess, but taking into account overhead, a fundraiser, and 5 or 6 developers, the budget for that non-profit might need to be around a million or so.

Difference in needs, contributors, companies

Companies want to sponsor things that make their businesses better, and they want to focus on specific features or aspects, and get returns on the order of 3 months out.

Contributors want to not have to fundraise every 3 months, or even better: contribute without having to do fundraising.

Back to approaching companies that are not already contributing (I mentioned at the beginning I would come back to this point): the way to approach them is probably with a ROI argument that helps them and gives them a quick return. This requires skills, fundraising skills.


There are people who want to get paid to work on core, but are not good at fundraising.

How can we raise the money, and direct it to those people?

Instead of hitting up our "friends" or companies that are already doing more than their share, how can we target other sources of funds?

What are we going to do about this?

Suggestion: Set up something (DA, a new org, a cooperative, other?), something that will have staff, and a properly skilled fundraiser to raise funds.