Re: 2009 Current Year Budget

Hi John,

Thanks for publishing the budget. It's a very useful document to have.

I have a few observations and questions (mostly the same ones I asked of
the board before - but this is an opportunity for a more public discussion).

john palmieri wrote:
> Attached is the 2009 budget put together by Stormy.  Due to the economy
> our budget shows us eating into the surplus quite a bit.  While we will
> remain solvent for 2009, it is a burn rate we will not be able to
> sustain in 2010 barring changes in funding level and/or reduction of
> ongoing expenditures.  Those decisions will be made as the year
> progresses and we have a more complete picture of where we will be come
> December.  As I have said we are in good shape for this year but we need
> to look to the future in order to find ways to best serve our members.

One line I'm missing from the budget is "Balance forward". You mention
we're eating into our surplus, but you don't mention how much we have in
the bank at the beginning of the year.

Running a budget deficit of $83,000 seems a bit mad given the way things
are going right now - shouldn't we be tightening our belts anywhere we can?

I have some ideas how to get closer to a balanced budget. They mean
tightening the belt this year, for the long-term health of the
foundation, but I think that's worth doing.

As I see it, our minimum expenditure during the year is:

Stormy:    $96,000
Zana:      $27,500
Paychex:    $2,400
Taxes:      $6,043

Insurance:  $2,200
Accountant: $3,500
Office:       $592
Bank fees:  $3,000   (is there a way to bring these down?)

Total:  $141,235

And undirected income (that is, income not specifically destined for

Advisory board fees: $110,000
Friends of GNOME:     $20,000 (budgeted)
Google SoC:           $15,000
GUADEC 08:            $20,000 (provisional)

Total:  $165,000

That gives us about $24K to play with, *if* we raise $20,000 from
Friends of GNOME, everyone pays advisory board fees, and we do pretty
well from GUADEC 08.

What's unclear from the presentation of the budget is which activities
are coming from the foundation surplus, and which will be run only if
they're self-funding.

As I understand it, hackfests are all conditional on sponsorship and/or
financial participation of participants.

I assume the same is true of the sysadmin? Given that we have $20,000
raised towards the sysadmin position already, and another $10,000
budgeted from the foundation, how much money do you feel the foundation
will need to raise to make this hire? Is 6 months funds enough, or will
you try to raise a year's worth before asking someone to commit to
sysadminning? Is it to be a contract, or a permanent hire?

Is this also the case for re-running the accessibility program? There is
a line that $30,000 is money raised last year and unspent on the
accessibility program - could that be removed from this year's budget as
a budgetted expense, to allow things to be a little clearer on this
year's income/expenditure?

Other planned expenditures, which don't appear to have fundraising
directly associated with them, are:

* European & US event box: $2,500
* Latin American Tour: $6,000
* Local group budget: $9,371
* Travel budget: $10,000

Could we cut down this budget this year, given the financial state of
affairs elsewhere? If we had an overall community budget of, say,
$13,000 I think that'd be great! $28,000 with no income matching up
seems too much.

Marketing budget: shouldn't we be cutting the expenditure of printing
annual reports this year? $2,700 seems like a luxury we can't affort.

One last overall remark: Looking at the cover sheet, we look like we're
bleeding money, but when you look closer, a lot of the budgeted
expenditure is contingent on fundraising. Doesn't it make sense to
reflect this in the cover page? For example, programs shows -$28,000 and
hackfests -$19,000 but they're not going to happen if they're being 100%
funded by the foundation.

Once you factor out these, you're back to -$35,000, and if you manage to
trim the marketing budget, community budget and bank fees, we could even
get down closer to -$20,000 for the year. Factor in the Summer of Code
income, and we are close to a break-even budget - especially since I
know that Stormy is being very careful with her travel budget and is
requesting expenses where reasonable, so I am sure she will not spend
all of the $20K travel budget allotted.

Also, there is currently no budget line for GUADEC 2009 - isn't there a
planned surplus from this year's event also to pay for some things like
the Summit and maybe a hackfest?

Anyway - I hope my comments are helpful, and reinforce the message that
I think the foundation should absolutely try to balance the budget this
year, even if that means spending less on travel than intended.

The foundation should be building & storing cash reserves for a
potentially horrible 2010 if at all possible.

Thanks again John!

Dave Neary
GNOME Foundation member
dneary gnome org

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