Re: Fwd: 2009 Current Year Budget


john palmieri wrote:
> Thanks for starting this discussion, it is very important and you bring
> up good points.  Let me try to give you some answers immediately and see
> if we can't come up with more in depth solutions for breaking down the
> budget in a way that is a bit more clear as we continue to refine it.

Thanks for the answers!

> The first page of the budget states that we started with $130,000 in the
> bank for and are expecting around an -$83,000 deficit which means we
> plan to end the year at $47,000 in the bank.  Part of this is due to
> getting advice from our accountant that we had too much money in the
> bank. We have since also gotten advice to have at least 6 months of
> operation expenses  in surplus from other non-profits.

Our opex is over €140K, which would mean leaving €70K surplus by that
measure. Plus, I'd have pointed out to the accountant that we just
recently hired a full time executive director which will mean no major
surplus for the foreseeable future.

> We have a lot of funds ties to specific programs.  The a11y funds will
> not be dropped into a general pool.  Any suggestions on how to break
> this out in the budget?

If there are directed funds, then they should have a separate sheet.

You'd have a sheet with:

A11y program:

Balance forward: $30,000
Income 1: $15,000
Income 2: $5,000

Expenditure: $50,000

in that sheet, and no a11y program figures would appear anywhere else in
the budget at all.

This also means that targeted income doesn't get mentioned in the
overall foundation budget.

You'd have a separate sheet for all other directed income - GIMP, LGM,
bounties. In each case, they will have their own balance forward which
is independent of cash-in-bank.

You can do a consolidated sheet afterwards where the totals of all the
"balance forwards" will equal the amount of cash in the bank account,
and all income & expenditure gets listed on the same page. That's useful
to see if we're going into the red, but not useful from a budgeting
point of view.

>  We could end up with hundreds of totals making
> the budget more confusing if we are not careful.

Well, we have 5 now, if I understand correctly: GIMP, LGM, accessibility
program, sysadmin, and the undirected foundation budget.

> I
> should also note while I like the ability to specify where funds are to
> be spent, it can be abused to the point where we have no general funds
> and are over funded in areas which aren't stratigically important to
> long term growth (e.g. we starve the trunk to feed the leaves).

I agree - best to raise undirected funds for a specific event and leave
a surplus (the GUADEC model). You just need to make sure there's no
commitment to spend the money on the specific thing that you're raising
money for.

A way around this (sneaky, but absolutely OK) is to account for time
that Stormy and Zana spend working on projects, and allocate part of the
budget to "administrative overhead", based on the time they spend. We
did this for Tim Ney for Kristiansand and Stuttgart GUADECs.

> We will have to look into these but I don't want to cut back on things
> that pay off dividends in terms of GNOME awareness and development.

I don't want to either, but we need to save money.

> In
> the grand scheme of things activities are the core of what we do and
> there are bigger, even if more unpleasant ways of making sure we are
> viable.

I assume you're talking about letting Stormy or Zana go. While there's a
good argument for that, in the case of Stormy, she's the person who will
be bringing in new funding next year and the year after. So I would
consider that a good long-term bet. And Zana has done a great job for us
keeping the paperwork in order, and really frees up Stormy to work on
relationship building which will give us the budget to do everything we
need to do in the future. It's worth pointing out that GUADEC
sponsorship would have been way down this year, and it would have been
worse without having someone there reminding people and pushing GUADEC
sponsorship since the end of last year.

>     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.
> That is not to say we shouldn't scrutinize the community budget and see
> places where it hasn't really benifitted in the past and ask people to
> be really conservative when it comes to choosing who will be requesting
> money.  I don't want to mecanically cut funding, especially for
> community.

What I'm proposing is rationing, nut brutal cuts. Think how much farther
$13,000 will go if we collectively systematically look for cheaper
flights, ask for event organisers to sponsor travel before asking the
foundation, and only ask for what we need from the foundation - say half
the price of a ticket rather than the full price.

I don't know who we sponsored last year, or how much it cost overall, in
travel expenses, but I think we could make a $13,000 stretch a long way.
Other projects do well with even less.

Again, I'm not talking about refusing travel assistance here, I'm
talking about asking people to help themselves more, so that we can help
more people a little.

> We should be moving to a more paperless format anyway so I think this
> may be a good idea though we still need to have some on hand.  Putting
> them on Lulu (can individuals get our report from Lulu?) would mean
> people who wanted more of the print version could get it themselves.

I got the report on lulu, but I ordered it before I realised that none
of the purchase price was going to the foundation. With delivery, it was
very expensive.

>     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?
> There is a budget line of $20,000, it is just not clear since it has a
> note mentioning 2008.

Isn't that $20,000 the surplus of GUADEC 2008 that hasn't yet been
finalised & sent to the foundation?

> I am hoping you are more active in budget discussions as you have a lot
> of good suggestions and are able to ask the right questions to get us
> thinking.  We need more people outside of the board to take interest in
> the Foundation's activities.  

I may be a little touchy right now - I'm just wondering if this means
you feel I haven't been active up until now?

I prepared the 2007 budget as treasurer (the first time we had one),
helped Vincent draft the 2008 budget, and volunteered to help with
drafting this year's, although I only saw a copy fairly recently.

If there's a lesson to be learned, perhaps that we can have this kind of
discussion more openly in the future, given the transparent nature of
the project? I'd be happy to help out as much as I can in the future.


Dave Neary
GNOME Foundation member
dneary gnome org

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