Currently in Debian, the DebConf team and DSA seek donations from sponsors, but there has been no central effort to coordinate this work.
The debian-sponsors-discuss list was recently created to discuss how to coordinate things better, and to look at new ways of fundraising for Debian.
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.
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.
Recurring revenue streams
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.
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.)
- "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.)
DebConf sponsorship levels vary year over year
Debian sponsorship vs DebConf
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 currency.
Not enough Fundraising team continuity
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 initiatives.
Need to make more allowances for smaller companies
- 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.)
How to deal with various currencies and countries
- 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.