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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
- who would like to chair/moderate?
- do any groups have pressing problems or requests for advice?
- are there any things that would help groups?
- resources, research, data, ???
- next steps (if any!)
- Alberto Abella - Spain
- Laura James - 'international' :)
- Denis Parfenov - Ireland
- Ingo Keck - Ireland
- Naomi Lillie - 'international'
- Charalampos - Greece
- Samuel Klein
- Serdar Temiz
- Oleg - Switzerland
- Mamadou Diagne (genova) - Senegal
- Updates/questions/etc from groups
- Greece -
- hard to find money from govt and other sources. Only some foundations. Horizon 2020 is a good opportunity though.
- Ireland - very similar.
- Hard to find money. Trying various things. Govt service people are not in a rush to do things; others take time.
- Property prices rising, so venues used in the past no longer available
- but positive - funding from govt for next meeting and hope to line up funding for several events in the future
- looking to work with charity data - help people understand them.
- Spain - currently 3 income sources
- 1) funded by organising events where there is sponsorship, whether profit or loss, event organiser bears this. Maybe 70% event organiser, 30% OKFN-spain.
- 2) also looking at charging for [?? storage] - economies of scale.
- 3) membership fees (8% of OKF spain income)
- hope to get european projects in the future. There was a good meeting with Sander and other chapters, need to continue this.
- international - note we don't make profit/surplus on events yet. usually a small loss (eg OKFestival 2014 made a loss)
- Idea - could OK train chapters to deliver paid training, eg building on school of data materials? Are there standardised training materials we could share centrally? eg Open Data in One Day.
- materials could be locally translated / localised
- what about CKAN training?
- idea - have we been in touch with professional guilds of data analysts?
- models in professional groups such as software or design
- having a membership which is useful to people in some way (benefits). for instance, some guilds help with insurance. For others, professional dues pay for projects which are useful to many people in the space, whcih otherwise wouldn't happen. Others offer discounts on training or on conference tickets etc.
- Denis - connecting with DataKind who hope to (re)launch in Ireland. good to grow space.
- two ways to help someone - give fish, or teach to fish. Open Knowledge does and should teach to fish
- Datakind help charities with data manilpulation
- Ireland still playing with idea of membership, maybe for multinationals. but what benefits could they derive? Is it driving forward OPen data in Ireland, or somethign more?
- Serdar - membership may work in some countries.
- eg ISSEC, payment for certification (?)
- was very different experience between India and Sweden, in terms of interest in membership and value of benefits.
- may vary country to country, depend on other options (free activities), population size, etc
- co-creation spaces and connection around apps and data may be useful for some western countries
- Alberto - can bundle membership with many other services but cannot be main revenue source
- volunteer controbution more valuable than any payment! Cannot charge as much money as value of volunteer time
- 8% of income comes from membership. pays for admin taxes
- Samuel [chat] 1) supporting okfn. 2) conference fee reduction for okcons and sibling conferences. 3) inexpensive bulk services: coworking, consulting, cloud services
- Oleg -- Switzerland
- been running events at first on no budget (i.e. directly sponsored), until we had to quickly build capacity to handle money (OKCon!) - once you have money you have to have clear goals
- [we have a yearly membership fee for our association which raises enough budget to support basic infrastructure and at least 2 free public events per year]
- wikimedia - community support model - can get money to attend event, get prize, small things. but if just collecting money to support a cause, it's not exactly a charity at Open Knowledge, we don't immediately give the money out. How does money help further openness?
- challenge of people equating open with free .. need to tackle with education/awareness
- funding models is going to be one of our next discussion points.
- Naomi [international] - conference fee reduction makes sense for paying members, but we're already struggling even to break even on our events, so hard to consider offering discounts... maybe we'd need to increase ticket prices for everyone or for those who can afford it, and then drop it down for Local Groups/Chapters...
- Samuel [chat]: I find 2+ tiers for conference tickets helpful: professional/academic v. student
- either way, the cost can be lower for members if there is paid membership
- Denis - to rely on one annual event, can't be sustainable, because of risks (especially if no track record of generating surplus on events)
- need to start working more on 2020 - get consortiums ready!
- Naomi - we can offer seed funding to Local Groups when there is a strong need to help with a specific process or step change, especially around setting up a Chapter.
- groups may be able to use this funding catalytically - to secure other funding from other sources
- seed funding very lightweight - just a little report requested
- also a very tiny pot of money for WG support - a couple of hundred pounds available to each WG to enable say conference attendance.
- Samuel - There are lots of datasets that are expensive to process and make free even after they're released
- so many activitites at OK. Open Data is a 'hot topic' in many countries and regions now
- [related: for a good dataset there is usually a number of interested recipients, who would fund this processing, or even support building an org that can process such data streams over time. the same is true for other sources of knowledge (cf the Wiki Education Foundation), but data is particularly hot atm. ]
- Note - wikimedia have various levels of funds available for local projects
- This includes seed funds of $1-20k for initial chapter startup, support for specific chapter projects up to $50k (basically acting as an in-movement source of project funds, preferably with matching funds from other sources), and support for annual plan grants for chapters for their first few years (a luxury because WMF has the global capacity to do this).
- Local chapters also run their own fundraisers among their local communities: both via mailing lists that they build year over year, membership (also only a few % of total budgets, everywhere but Germany), and via foundation and government partnerships for their major/flagship projects.
- Mamadou from Senegal
- there are different ways we can try to raise money.
- education - certified by OKFN - for instance about open data. Easier to sell, because people get certificate important for CV. Also good brand is useful. Could start education model, either centrally or locally.
- training - related to more technical topics perhaps. Companies already working with open data, may be able to partner with them, perhaps as cobranded training for a fee
- supporting hackathons - have been doing this. If legal entity, some of the hackathon organisations might be able to provide funding/spnsorship. Organisations want to be visible in global network - can charge for this.
- Invitattions to speak - for instance at OKFestival. This can connect to sponsorship of local group. People like to be invited to speak.
- offer oppportunity to pay to meet speaker. Amazed people signed up for this - 2 people offered to pay good money to meet speakers!
- have cheaper / free tickets for students etc, but make it possible to pay more if people can pay more.
- we can sell our team members as speakers at events - smart peopel and good content
- another thing we could follow - like Drupal. they deliver services around their project. train technical team, good brand etc. Good to show OK International brand too
- Laura - note about challenges of business development for CKAN services
- question about POD - how is it going?
- Partnership for Open Data https://okfn.org/projects/partnership-for-open-data/
- developing for second year... IDRC coming on board, renegoatiating. Remains broad in focus. Nothing firmly decided. http://www.idrc.ca/
- Laura answer on grant writing - sometimes for the first time in LGs
- James Hamilton available to review a proposal - see local coord archive
- main thing is understanding funder and trying to deisgn proposal to meet their needs
- can International do more - what help could we offer?
- grants are hard work, take a lot of time, often with poor success rate
- takes a lot of admin time / burden. Especially if you are working with volunteers. hard if starting from scratch
- events - getting sponsorship is OK. but cannot imagine charging attendance.
- Oleg - what do we think the future of open data ecomony is? what are business models whicha re working or will work in next year?
- Laura - uncertain - disruption is hard to see future.
- we hear 2 out of 22 ODI nodes generating revenue right now
- Alberto - data released often not most valuable (which is geo & Real time data)
- can international help local groups with projects locally eg grant support.
- are there any other organisations capable of delivering in 50+ countries like we are?
- this should be a valuable opportunity!! People must want this!
- Samuel - events
- cloud services to connect folks
- basic event kit - here's teh checklist, downloadable materials, price structure, etc
- For events: have a centralized event-hub that automates this
- (eventbrite is fine; there are some decent foss versions that we could support in its place)
- Alberto - open data day is a good date for coordinated events 21 feb 2015
- Naomi - http://wiki.okfn.org/Events_Handbook http://wiki.okfn.org/Guidelines_for_Events please check it out! Beatrice Martini is at International and may be able to help you (as well as doing OKestival). Feedback / improvements on the events handbook would be much appreciated! we try to imrpove. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Denis - Alternative for meetup? https://ti.to/home is much superior and less annoying
- ie. https://ti.to/open-knowledge-ireland
- Mamadou - here in Africa non commercial model are the best to motivate an awareness people, we are working to try to get grants from government, NGO...
- What about business models - are there ODI / POD learnings around open data businesses?
- unsure from POD - need to check in with project more
- what about ODI nodes setting up alongside OKF?
- Ireland closest experience there - not in place yet, delays
- first oDI train the trainer course was last week. Not cheap and you have to pay before you can use their stuff
- unclear whether nodes are making money yet... or whether membership take up outide london is signifcant.
- not sure whether startup programme is generating much money/profit - some ones we know. UK Grants helping...
- International could increase events in local chapters to make them more sustainable. Good for chapter folks to meet International staff, share
- OKFestival is only once a year.... not often enough, could we meet more often?
- this could benefit chapters
- Naomi - yes, we agree. We ran OKCon with OKF-CH, which was a lot of effort. and in the past we had people from chapters to attend OK-international staff summits
- want to support groups running OKConferences in the future - on specific topics.
- we wantcommunity summits - in person or online. face to face if we can.
- online, maybe OPen Knowledge Day?
- in person. a series, in different locations, eg Europe, N africa, etc. we have not made as much progress as we'd like. Even regional events, less travel, is still a big cost especially for local groups where attendance is supported by indivduals. DOn't want to prioritise the well funded local groups too much as everyone desrves support. We will try to do more of these!
- Oleg -- Open Knowledge maker night - in London - great if you are in London and can drop in!
- Serdar - ticket sales - some part can be delegated to local groups and even looking for exhibition etc. and it can be a revenue split
- and maybe we can push sales or invite more popel
- get more things like exhibtition areas, which can be sold to companies, poster space, etc. if sell, split profit, if not, don't!
- Naomi - we have thought abotu this. in OKFestival 2014 we decided not to sell space or to sell streams to sponsors becayse we wanted to focus on merit and to be transparent in event planning. If we sell space, that coud mean we have less open companies promoting at OKfestival... are we willing to sell space even if companies may not share our views?
- Serdar - eg Swedish Innovation Agency. MOeny for open data projects. They want to showcase their projects. they would pay for this. Good visibility, blogs etc. Also for launches.
- Laura - note some concerns from some of the community around eg Google supporting OKfestival. Open Data companies are easier :)
- Serdar - should be fine if clear about what sponsors get etc. We should be clear we are a social enterprise, we need to pay for our work but we don't make profit.
- Alberto - merchandise sales
- Naomi & Laura - yes - although you need to have good volume to make a surplus, and to make sure handling costs are not high.
- Alberto - infrastructure to save time and money in local groups (different way to help with sustainability question)
- eg website
- eg delivering training - materials
- ERP or similar tools
- everyone has mailing list - why don't we have other things?
- Jaakko - at OKF event tonight! about MyData - launch of the big report Finland made for their ministry.
- big topic and with lots of interest.
- studies like this, very good for chapter. it is useful to community, they answer with funding
- useful to apply for common funding. good basis.
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...
- Archive from April-May 2014
Notes from two calls about this topic, with background info here: https://docs.google.com/a/okfn.org/document/d/1Kb-FZdBU7odSc6SEPbVKoWto0otKvG4eWpiYp6aoKk0/edit
Who's in the call 30/4/14? (IRC chat link: http://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=okfn )
We tried 3 call platforms and all of them had some problems. many apologies :( we'll try something different next time!
- Laura James
- Tom - Brazil
- Hannes Gassert - Switzerland
- Stefan Kasberger - Austria
- Denis - Ireland
- Serdar- Sweden
- Pieter-Jan - Belgium
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.
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!
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?
- alberto abella - Spain
- Laura James
- Cedric Lombion
Call notes 8/5/14
Questions we might want to ask:
- what are other local group's experiences of funding?
- what are experiences of other, non-commercial, non-grant funding?
- membership fees
- sponsorship (or donations from industry?)
- Do we think that the following are 'commercial' type work, or acceptable in a non-profit OPen Knowledge context? They are different to commercial consultancy, perhaps, and are things other non-profits and charities do:
- paid training courses
- events with paid tickets
- research / analysis for money
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
=> 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?