Setting up a dual-purpose dedicated fund?

dgorton's picture

First and foremost, I really appreciate the work that the D.A. does on behalf of the community. Thank you for everything.

After Drupalcon (again - thanks!), I got thinking about the potential challenges that new money may bring to our community. One way to handle the moment, however, may be to setup a dual-purpose fund to be administered by the DA on behalf of the community.

One part of that fund could be for recognizing already-made contributions to the community. Merit would be rewarded just a bit more this way, and thereby even further incented into the future.

The other part of that fund could be used to create some sort of bounty system - in which the Drupal Association offers little incentives to solve important outstanding issues and gives some extra attention to the things you, our community trustees, think are important.

We could then encourage specific donations to the fund from organizations large and small that benefit from Drupal as well as, perhaps, from good people like the Knight Foundation who have taken an active interest in seeing Drupal succeed.

So - that's it. My thought. I think it may have some merit, so I thought I'd offer it up for reactions.

Comments

New money?

Boris Mann's picture

I'm not sure what you mean by new money?

The D.A. is prohibited by our statutes from getting involved in the technical development of Drupal. Actually, we've struggled with this, because how do we maintain our "home", Drupal.org, purely on volunteer code basis.

Our current thinking is that by partially sponsoring various code sprints (i.e. helping to pay for people to come together to try and solve problems, rather than funding development itself), we can help support the community's forward momentum.

Looking at other communities, direct funding of development has always been a problem.

I, personally, have run several "bounties" to help get various issues funded. Nothing stops you or anyone else from banding together and running a bounty around an issue you feel is important.

Bad Initial Explanation

dgorton's picture

I realized that I didn't do a great job of explaining this after I posted it. I'll try to flesh it out a bit more as well as react to your specific notes.

It was my perception that the emergence of the Knight Foundation and Acquia and the significant funds they both are bringing to Drupal has the potential to cause division. Likewise, paying for a Drupal.org redesign may cause some internal strife. I'm not saying that these thigns should cause problems - on the contrary, I think all of them are great developments. So, I was thinking about a proactive way to handle these sorts of potentially large-quantity funds in a way that minimizes strife and uses the opportunity to build unity.

The D.A. is prohibited by our statutes from getting involved in the technical development of Drupal.

I wasn't aware of that and it's quite relevant. Thanks for pointing it out.

Our current thinking is that by partially sponsoring various code sprints (i.e. helping to pay for people to come together to try and solve problems, rather than funding development itself), we can help support the community's forward momentum.

Yes - that's exactly the sort of work I was thinking about and the sorts of things I would expect a fund like this to sponsor. On a larger scale, I think the Drupal.org redesign might fall into this as well.

Looking at other communities, direct funding of development has always been a problem.

I can't honestly claim awareness of details here, but I would expect that to be the case. I'm definitely on the same page, especially if there's significant historic precedent.

I, personally, have run several "bounties" to help get various issues funded. Nothing stops you or anyone else from banding together and running a bounty around an issue you feel is important.

Agreed, and nothing should ever prevent that in the future, either. Large donors who are starting to be a bit removed from the community, however, don't have the inclination (or ability, frankly), to accurately discern the sorts of micro-tasks (or macro-tasks, for that matter), accurately judge the right way to fund the efforts and accurately judge the quantity of money that it should involve. On the other hand, the DA is made of people who are intimately involved, very committed and are clearly aware of these same things.

The Knight Foundation grant system has come together and it looks like it's being handled well by smart people just next door (http://groups.drupal.org/knight-foundation). If we were to establish some sort of regular vehicle like this fund, however, I think it would facilitate more giving. I certainly know that I and my company would feel inclined to give to it -- that's the historic role of foundations -- giving money to be managed by people you trust so that they can distribute it per their judgments.

Now, I already do give to the Drupal Association for precisely this reason. I've been involved with Drupal for a while -- but, nevertheless, I still feel like others (you - the DA) would do a better job of making the detailed decisions of who, what and how much. I can't imagine what this might feel like to someone new coming in with monetary resources and a desire to do some good.

So - does a new fund need to be created (aside from the handy 'donate' button)? Perhaps not. But I suspect that setting aside some sort of clearly ear-marked fund with guidelines and rules might encourage further gifts from sources both within the community as well as from without. And, I think a dual purpose fund - with one side to thank the efforts of the stars who've already done tremendous things, and the other side hosting code sprints or sponsoring a d.o. redesign - could further unify us and be a constructive reaction to our growing needs and the money that will help solve some of those needs.

Again, the Knight Foundation opportunity is a tremendous one and the community is reacting well. But I suspect it was hard for Knight to cross that chasm (we should ask them) - and what might happen in the future if we made that sort of thing easier?

(Sorry about the long answer!)

Drew Gorton
Gorton Studios

Drupal Association

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