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local-groups-sustainable-models Open Knowledge local groups sustainable funding models chats

Call 7th october 2014 at 6pm BST/UK

Goals: to discuss commercial and non-commercial work, issues around competition and conflict of interest, and non-profit/for-profit divisions and models in Open Knowledge local groups




action - sander 2020 call
action - laura - a follow up call on following topics: 

I* to understand how we could expand the vision of what local groups do which affects their relationship with their local communities (who may donate directly), partners (who may cofund projects), and governments (who often have knowledge needs: for curators, developers, analysts, independent third-party analyses)
  --  understand stakeholders
  -- can OKF international to help LG cut costs, as well as generate money?

Here in Africa non commercial model are the best to motivate an awareness people, we working to try to get grant from government, NGO...  :) 

Notes from two calls about this topic, with background info here: 

Who's in the call 30/4/14? (IRC chat link: )

We tried 3 call platforms and all of them had some problems. many apologies :( we'll try something different next time!

Call notes 30/4/14

Lots of different experiences shared in the document. 

Strategy right now is two ways: 1) to get basic funding through memberships: from organizations (500€) and citizens (45€). We hopefully will roll-out our members acquisition strategy in Q3/2014; 2) to get project funding to cross-finance activities, get some attention, connect with other organizations and do real things.
The money we were working with was from an open data conference back in 2012, but it's gone now.
For us it is important to have a basic income between 10-20 .000€ a year for 1-2 half-time employees (community coordination, proposals, event organization, office stuff) and money for infrastructure (IT, admin, legal, and so on). That's the next step for the Austrian chapter.

OKF-Be Pieter-Jan
The only employee - need to work for belgium itself - still looking for sustainable revenue, without being too subsidised to governments because need to act as an action group too.  not too easy just to live on projects! 

okf-ch Hannes
looking at separation of work
this got rid of a lot of confusing contradictions
the separate consulting entities (individual ones, not official) is helpful, as consulting work can be taken on.  3-4 individual companies linked to board members, so can be active as chapter policy voices, but do business as separate businesses
the chapter is much freer in voicing opinion

Really interesting how local groups are encountering such similar issues to central!  It's great we can learn from each other. These issues of sustainable funding are difficult.  There are some apparent catch-22s between the desire for sustainability not from grants, the way grant funders want to see non-grant funding to demonstrate sustainability, the moral implications of mixing commercial and other work, the limited options for nonprofit funding other than grants.

Spinning out datatank
a small company where the freelancers can still do consulting in the datatank name, but also so the rights and code remain part of okf-be (PJ: Remain open by OKFN Belgium ;))
hard to do, hard to see impact
important to be independent though!
we don't want to feel like a competitor, but another party opening up knowledge and data
not sure if it's the right decision but will see real impacts over time

there is no real personnel overlap:
Pieter-jan and Pieter at OKF-Be
2 freelancers at datatank; their revenue will go to the freelancers, and maybe a small amount to the nonprofit OKF-Be but not sure yet
Not official yet

Who's in the call 8/5/14?

call recording 

Call notes 8/5/14

Questions we might want to ask:

Ewan - Scotland
So far most things haven't required money. Mostly meetup refreshments! 
'social hacks' or spare money on a case by case basis
space donated for free
someone just offered money!
but some groups clearly need money

Cedric Lombion - intern at French LG
working as project and community coord, mostly school of data Fr
working on strategy for school of data locally
expect this to be different to central school of data!
want a sustainable model with training for businesses and individuals
need to be interesting for other french speaking countries
at the last General Assembly of the local group, thought of training stations; 
don't have time for civil projects running already. so look to train trainers around the world in french speaking countries. 
also could look at other organisations that need help with data
also helps reach new people, those introducing the project have organised trainign stations, paid for others, reach more people 

question: when designing school of data, did central had a specific set of audiences in mind, did we think about groups who could pay us?
Answer - yes
* CSOs & activists
* journalists
=> groups where open data use would have impact, not designed for ability to pay!
these groups can't often pay or pay much in fact
if we wanted to earn money we would train businesses who pay lots more :)
school of data curriculum development, and training of trainers, is mostly funded by grants. in some cases there is support from local CSO or government or other funder (eg World Bank) to help co-fund training in a country.

Fellowships: these are a way to train the trainers and give them authority and repsonsibility.
The fellowships are paid by a grant received by central

does central have training materials for specific audiences?  yes, but not as much as we could have. there's school of data materials, open data in one day, and materials for open data programme managers and CKAN specialists

is there interest in open data in one day courses?
yes - we can sell out - and we don't really do any marketing
there is also a England grant to support open data training for civil servants which we just received

In Denmark, some sense that funding should not be taken
may limit independence ?
taking money as an undesirable thing

Ewan - if everyone is non paid, things are given freely, donated time, positive sense
but there is an issue of scalability or sustained actions, then more commitment might be needed
in some groups with paid staff you can see this in places like the German chapter.

What do people who are volunteering actually do for a living?
easier if you have team members who work in relevant or adjacent fields, they can volunteer linked to work
harder if your team are doing a very different job perhaps

  should draw a  difference between general funding of NGO and organisation, and project specific funding/
fear of being influenced day by day by a central funder who may have different goals (eg public funding)
per-project funding may influence the direction of a project, but not the whole organisation
eg public funding of a project may mean the first training is for public servant training. but this may be less problematic, unless it goes against the philosophy of the project
eg in France  - CKAn and openspending, services could be proposed to get funding. could be interesting business model

    at central, project funding for specific things is comparatively easy to get adn most of our work is this. it's ok, we can do projects, we can support in some cases specific communities (eg open data in Tanzania or openGLAM) but organisational funding is scarce and so we cannot fund the things we think are important and strategic, such as local group community support like Christian! Few funders seem to want to fund that, so far
        dependes what groups want to do. if you are doing advocacy and meetups it's ok as a volunteer. other projects are harder to deliver without paid staff or a great deal of volunteer time
        IDEA: to write up some of the differnet ways groups can work
      Laura: agree. Not every group has to be a chapter!  each group should do what it wants - volunteer groups are also fine, there's no pressure to become a chapter. groups should pick what works for them :)
          first payroll person in france.  everyone else is a volunteer.  
          Bit of project funding with ministry of culture. tried to find an existing project which a public organisation wants to launch, to answer the request to get funding. that can be done in free time of poeple, but can be hard especially for the most engaged people
          Pierre: we got 13k EUR for public domain calculator; from the ministry of culture. Also just applied to UK Technology Strategy board, for public domain value work in partnership with British Library
              how can we get regular enough inflow of money to get someone who has time to work 3 days a week or so on different organisational things
Have we looked at wikimedia, mozilla, ORG, OpenStreetMap, CC etc business models??

    Yes.  these groups tend to be different to us in some ways - scale or activity
   . For instnace wikimedia has a huge public audience (great for donor/crowd funding!) and a very clear offering, which benefits lots of poeple, so it's easy to see why you might pay.   ORG is quite small, focussed in one country, has membership fees/donor funds, works in policy/advocacy, less of a community network today.  Mozilla has lots of capital which makes life very different - if we had a big capital endowment that would be amazing, but despite the "Foundation" name we do not,  
    We have looked at membership fees too, but feel this is not Open Knowledge-style; we love the inclusivitiy of the community, it's informal and easy to join and we don't need to discriminate between people who pay and people who don't (with membership fees you have to offer some benefit to those who pay); also hard to see how this would work internationally, the fee for different countries would need to be different. It just doesn't sit right for us, although it's fine that some local groups have a membership fee for individuals or organisations. 

Ewan: It sounds as though the question is not just: how do local groups sustain themselves financially, but also: is there something we can do as a global community to support OK central in finding the funding it needs to work as effectively as it can?