Financial Vision – July 2016
Samvera Partners are the backbone of the project. Their contributions of time, effort and in kind for the good of the project are the resources that power project administration, its community coordination, and advances in the technical framework. Becoming a Partner does not require making financial contributions–and in fact for many years the project actively avoided direct financial contributions by strategy (to help build a strong network of grassroots ownership) and by necessity (it technically had no means to bank money).
In 2015, the Samvera Partners resolved to start building a centralized financial capacity to help administer the project's growing activities, and specifically to manage funds associated with core project activities–such as legal services, or the annual Samvera Connect conference. The Samvera Steering Group engaged DuraSpace to serve as its fiscal sponsor, to provide banking and other services requested by the Project, and made a one-time call for seed funding which collected $21,000 to fund these services (including trademarking the project) from voluntary contributions of current Partners.
This is a a financial vision for the Samvera Project, produced after discussions among the Samvera Steering Group in 2015 and at its January 2016 face-to-face meeting in Atlanta, and at Samvera Power Steering in March 2016. It is meant to articulate a longterm vision for the project's financial strategy, and also provide a near term plan and position paper for how the project will manage its finances in the coming quarters and years.
The Samvera Project seeks to build its financial capacity–the ability to gather, manage, and spend money, all with appropriate governance, controls and transparency–in order to support the project's activities. As the project grows in size, sophistication and spread of interests, centrally pooled and managed funding will be essential to efficiently supporting the community's coordination (organizing Samvera connect and other meetings, e.g.), communications (project website, marketing materials, conference presence, e.g.), technical coordination (release planning, technical writing for for Samvera components, etc.), adopter support (possibly commissioned work to fund next generation technology development, or last generation technology stability), and directed work (expansion into related communities–such as DevOps, archives or repository managers, or coordination in grant proposals or responding to RFPs from others on behalf of the project, e.g.).
This somewhat substantial list of representative financial activities indicates that Samvera needs to grow its ability to bank and spend money responsibly, systematically, predictably, with appropriate revenue streams, financial governance, controls, and transparency. Financial capacity with a demonstrable track record is an end in and of itself, and may in fact make the project attractive to new adopters, communities and supporting vendors, thus enriching the overall ecosystem.
To build this capacity, the Samvera Project has set an initial target of collecting $50,000 per year from appropriate revenue streams that may arise from any of various strategies: annual fund raising and/or membership drive, hosted services, fees paid by RSPs (registered service providers), training, grants, surplus from conference fees, industry sponsorships or other. Following good agile principles, the project will reassess its needs over time to see if a larger amount of pooled funding would be desirable, how it might be used, and how it might be best managed.
After extensive conversations throughout 2014 and 2015 within the community, the Samvera Steering Group in 2016 identified four areas for potential spending at the initial level of $50,000 per year:
If and when the project builds a larger annual budget, spending items and categories would evolve. (It's quite possible to imagine hiring dedicated staff to support the project with a large enough budget, for example.)
Specific Services / Expenses Identified as High-Yield and/or High-Priority
(listed in no priority order; the number of $ indicating rough estimates on relative expense)
Financial Status to Date
Based on funding gathered in 2015 and community conversations, the Project has made the following steps in the financial realm as of July 2016:
The next steps are to...