Corporate sponsorship — an increasingly difficult creature to find — appears to have been the traditional financial staple for GNOME, paying for the foundation’s projects and programs as well as providing salaries for its small number of staffers. According to John Palmieri, Board Treasurer, the foundation is fine for 2009, but is “projecting that without a significant influx of steady contributions” it will face a significant shortfall in 2010. From Palmieri’s comments, the culprit appears to be the above-mentioned vanishing corporate contributions, though Foundation Executive Director Stormy Peters has reportedly been able to secure new sponsors, at least for 2009.
Ms. Peters, though a long-time GNOME fixture, is a relative newcomer as Executive Director, having been appointed to the position less than a year ago. It would appear to be her position — likely the greatest personnel-related expense for the foundation — that is most in jeopardy, as a shortfall in the 2010 budget would present a choice between retaining Ms. Peters and cutting project funding, a regrettable position for any group to find themselves in. Palmieri describes the prospect of losing the so recently gained Executive Director as a “real tragedy,” saying that Ms. Peter’s efforts at “kicking our butts” to obtain financing, finish existing projects, and begin new ones are “remarkable in themselves, and even more so in the current climate.” On the prospect of losing her, he says quite succinctly: “[W]ithout her the Foundation will be less effective in its mission.”
Efforts are underway to prevent such a shortfall, and there is ample time to turn the projections around, if supporters turn out in force. In January, the foundation launched a new Friends of GNOME program allowing individuals to make recurring donations at a $10 per month “Adopt A Hacker” level, as well as the option to give on a non-recurring basis beginning with a $25 “Associate” contribution and progressing to a $1200+ “Philanthropist” level. Palmieri, on behalf of the GNOME Board, asks those who have and those who haven’t given to GNOME before to consider it now:
While we can look at this downturn as a time to tighten our belts, I would much rather look at this as an opportunity for the community to take a stake in the future of the Foundation and show that we are not exclusively reliant on corporate coffers to grow GNOME.
If you haven’t donated in the past, now is the time to start by becoming a Friend of GNOME or donating at any of the contribution levels. If you do currently donate to GNOME, look to see if you can contribute a tiny bit more on a monthly basis. Every little bit helps. Remember these funds go to programs like hackfests and putting on local conferences. It also goes to paying for our staff of two who along with the part time and overworked board construct the strategies for facilitating the growth of GNOME.