Drupal Association 2.0 and the BUDDI Program

nickvidal's picture

This is a strategy laid out for the Drupal Association based on conversations held at "DrupalCon 2.0, Reloaded".


To help the Drupal Association to scale itself and to create a successful fundraising strategy.

The Risks of the Current Strategy

In this excellent post by Laura Scott, she points out that:

the DA has put on only 2 DrupalCons a year, and because of size, each event effectively puts the entire organization at risk. With 7-figure budgets, risk can't be avoided. This means that an imperative must be put on institutional knowledge, best practices, very sound financial management, and always keeping an eye on protecting the DA. If there were a major failure of a DrupalCon, suddenly the resources earmarked for the next DrupalCon would be compromised, money to back Drupal.org improvements is put at risk, and the resources the DA brings to all of its endeavors are threatened.

Rethinking the Strategy

DrupalCons are primarily a fundraising event and, so far, the only way the Drupal Association has found to increase revenue is to make DrupalCons:

  • larger in size,
  • more expensive for attendees,
  • more expensive for sponsors,
  • more overloaded for staff members,
  • more overloaded for volunteers,
  • more corporate-oriented,
  • more risky.

But do fundraising events really have to be large to be successful?

Some counterexamples: local hospitals, schools and churches have been able to do community fundraising events quite successfully for centuries, even in small towns. Crowdfunding is a more recent counterexample.

Laying out a new Strategy

The Drupal Association should adopt a much better strategy, which include:

  • Promoting a healthy bottom-up fundraising ecosystem;
  • Allowing small/medium businesses/events to be part of it;
  • Making it fun for everyone to be part of it: attendees, volunteers, sponsors, and staff;
  • Promoting openness, transparency, collaboration, and inclusion always;
  • Supporting the freedom and grassroot growth of the community spirit.

But how exactly can the Drupal Association achieve this?

Trusting the Community

The Drupal Association has to get the weight off its shoulders and just trust the Drupal Community. Instead on concentrating all its efforts and hopes in two DrupalCons, it should reach out to the worldwide Drupal community and ask for help.

There are hundreds of DrupalSummits and DrupalCamps being organized per year by volunteers across the globe, and the numbers will only grow. If the funds raised at these events could go upstream much like the bits of code for the Drupal software, the Drupal Association could raise enough funds to pay for its infrastructure and improvements.

The Proposal: BUDDI (Bottom-Up Donations for Drupal Initiative)

The best way to illustrate the BUDDI program is with an example.

Let us suppose that for a giving year there were 141 Drupal events that voluntarily decided to participate in the BUDDI program.

  • 1 Major "Corporate" Event, donating 50.000 USD of surplus;
  • 10 Big Events, donating 25.000 USD of surplus;
  • 30 Medium Events, donating 5.000 USD of surplus;
  • 100 Small Events, donating 500 USD of surplus;

In total, the Drupal Association will have reached 500.000 USD in donations.

Final words

Together, we can create a healthy bottom-up fundraising ecosystem for the Drupal Association. The Drupal Association is us, the Drupal Community. So let us be BUDDIes and, in a bottom-up manner, build the Drupal Association that we deserve and that we need!

Let us alleviate the risks and dependencies that the DA has by distributing this heavy workload that rests on the shoulders of DrupalCon organizers, staff, sponsors and attendees to hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the globe. All this while promoting the freedom and community spirit that we so much cherish!

Kind Regards,
Nick Vidal


Is money the problem?

stevepurkiss's picture

If money is the problem, invariably money isn't the solution.

More people joining in making it easier for more people to join in is the answer. Money will flow as the contributions grow, the product will be better, and people will learn more about Drupal itself in the progress, hopefully resulting in less posts like http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4604555

Passion is what Drupal's built on, and as we see here that's where the future is being built, but to see the DA as some kind of "them" is counter-productive. Far too many times I hear about big business being over there and community over here - well, we're all people, and as many have seen, Drupal can be very beneficial to one's life. The overworked etc. isn't going to be sorted just by throwing money at... well, something, that's not really defined in your manifesto.

Having spent the last few weeks reviewing marketplace listings - some which have been sitting there for months - I've seen how just one or two extra hands on deck helping out can really quickly move things along. We have many avenues for techies to join in, yet I've met many people at events who want to help with things like that but have no idea where to start, hence our work-in-progress at http://groups.drupal.org/marketing-drupal. The DA will succeed as it grows to mirror how the community works, but let's not forget how the simple fact that we are conversing now is down to years and years of hard work and doing what they can, often being bitched and moaned at - as I did, and still do ;)

The Drupal Association could have $100m or $1bn income, but if it doesn't support the community as a whole then it isn't fulfilling its mission. From what I've seen over the last seven months being a community-elected representative on the Board, every conceivable effort is being made to fulfil the mission, and as we have more people on board in the coming months, through both the community elections and the nomination committee, the more those revenues will diversify.

IMHO we need the DA to do the things which a) don't make business sense for community members to build b) benefit the community through economies of scale, bulk purchasing, best practice sharing, etc.

At the moment the DA do a hell of a lot for how small they are, the best we can do to help move on the way is contribute more to the things that are going to help Drupal cross what I'm coining the "geekchasm". We have many wonderful events around the world, there's no need to see the DA as anything but a mahoosive benefit to us all, let's take some weight off the load via contributions of both effort and cash - as you say, most the income is from DrupalCons so a float would be nice too, but it's not going to solve all the problems.

passion + money = solution

nickvidal's picture

nope, money is not the problem

passion + money = solution

you can't:

a) do the things that don't make business sense for community members to build or
b) bulk purchasing

without any money.

for all the rest, we have the passion!

The overworked etc. isn't going to be sorted just by throwing money at... well, something, that's not really defined in your manifesto.

i did in fact address this. not by throwing money, but by distributing the workload.


jhodgdon's picture

This seems like an interesting idea, but I'm curious as to whether smaller events normally turn that much of a profit? In my experience organizing small events over the past few years, we always tried to keep the cost to a minimum (for attendees) and pretty much broke even, and if we did make a bit of surplus, we retained it as "seed money" for the next conference (there are always things that have to be paid in advance, such as room rentals, etc.). So I don't know how realistic this idea is...

Here's another idea, in line with Steve's comment above: If you organize an event, strongly suggest that each attendee join the Drupal Association as at least an individual member. And maybe suggest that if someone can't afford the $30 it takes to join, they put in X hours of volunteer time writing documentation on drupal.org, creating patches for issues, answering support questions, etc.


nickvidal's picture

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for the comment.

Some of the smaller events probably won't make much of a profit, but the bigger events might. I just revised the profits to be more adequate, but the most important thing is to understand the concept.

I'm not suggesting that this program replaces all other current programs. In fact, the BUDDI program would be a complement to the current programs, and specially a complement to the DrupalCons.

Currently, in our various DrupalSummits and DrupalCamps in Latin America, we are already teaching individuals about the value of joining the DA or volunteering their time to help with code, documentation, or event organization. This proposal would be a complement to these efforts as well.

Kind regards,

Great idea!

jredding's picture


I love that in the face of adversity you don't tuck your tail and go home, you instead run towards the storm and come up with solutions. You and I are on a very similar page and I'm sensing a great partnership here.

This idea of the BUDDI system is awesome! I'd love to see this come to long-term fruition. I personally support it and did something similar in 2007 when I ran one of the first DrupalCamp's in NYC. At that time the camp organizers were one of the first donors to the Drupal Association, donating $300, you can read about this on the wayback machine:

That donation made it into the DrupalCamp handbook to help guide future camps:

Revenue diversification is vitally important to the Drupal Association and something we have been working on for several years. I'll be giving an update on our revenue diversification plans at this week's board meeting. If you can find the time please attend so you can hear what is happening at the Association.


-Jacob Redding

-Jacob Redding


nickvidal's picture

Hi Jacob,

Thank you for reviewing this.

I know the DA has been working on revenue diversification, and indeed this is a challenging task.

One of the positive points of the BUDDI program is that it's rather easy to implement since it can be accomplished with almost ZERO investment. All that is needed is to make a few simple changes in the Add Event form:


... by adding a checkbox and a brief description of the program. A pointer to the DrupalCamp handbook would be nice as well.

If the program works, that's great. If it doesn't, there is no collateral. Just revert these simple changes.

It doesn't matter if the individual DrupalCamp funds are small when compared to that of DrupalCons. By working the longtail, the funds might add up to a significant amount. Plus, it takes some of the pressure from DrupalCon organizers.

Kind regards,

P.S.: BTW, I liked the gesture from DrupalCamp NYC from 5 years ago. This is exactly the idea that should be followed.

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