I am incredibly grateful for the recent efforts of the Open Source Matters Board of Directors. This year’s budget process was an “all hands on deck” experience. The current Treasurer recently resigned for health and personal reasons and had been unable to be present to the board for several months leading up to the resignation.
I had a brief six month freshman term as Treasurer and another four months as President. This is my first budget cycle as a board member. Like everyone else the world over, the board realized that many past financial assumptions are questionable at best in a post-COVID 19 world.
The board embraced the above realities as a challenge to re-evaluate everything. The 2020/2021 budget for Open Source Matters was put together with two important ideas in mind. We assumed no new sponsorships and we focused on the expenses most critical to ongoing operational success.
Let me be clear. There are still significant efforts being made to work with existing partners and sponsors. In addition, we have had new commitments and sponsorship leads even in the two weeks since the board passed the budget.
Then why were we so pessimistic about new revenue in planning? We wanted to be sure that OSM was a going concern without dipping into reserves even if nothing new happened. Historically most of our sponsorship connections are made at conferences and events. Obviously, those are not happening for the foreseeable future. So while fundraising efforts continue successfully, they do so in a different, less predictable way than they have in the past. Finally, the global financial landscape is highly uncertain as a result of the Coronavirus. Often marketing and sponsorships are some of the first areas that companies look to for cutting costs.
In short, the board of directors only counted as revenue for this year money that was already contractually committed. This puts us in a very good position if we are able to outperform these baseline assumptions about sponsorships.
The very conservative position on revenue made budgeting expenditures incredibly challenging. Some departments dialed back their initial requested amounts by more than 80%. In the event that we find additional revenue coming in mid-year, we will likely re-evaluate and share with the community areas where we would really like to see additional investment.
On a personal level, I am very aware that we are launching our first major point release in 8 years with the smallest of all possible marketing budgets. We also put on hold financial support for local Joomla events. These are both crucial areas of investment for the long term growth and success of the project. They are sure to be on the short list of things to bolster should we secure additional revenue.
One area of expenditure that was highlighted during last week’s semi-annual members meeting is the Board of Directors part of the budget. I invite careful review of those expenses as they are the hardest areas to find savings. Board expenses cover things like insurance, bank fees, and legal and financial services. These are not areas that generally have much flexibility. The one part of the Board budget that is down dramatically (85%) from last year’s budget is travel.
I did highlight during the Q&A at the Semi-annual meeting that we eliminated every travel line item for the board except one. That line item is to cover the costs of a new signatory traveling to the United States to be added to the OSM accounts. We are legally required to have two signatories, the Treasurer and the President, one of whom must be a U.S. citizen. I fill that requirement at the moment. We will have a new treasurer in the coming weeks that will need to be added. If I am not re-elected six months from now it will require a second person to be added to the accounts. If both of these positions happen to stay in the U.S. this line item could represent some unexpected savings for OSM. If not, we have budgeted for up to two board members to travel and be added to the financial accounts as required by law. All other travel for the board has been excluded from this year’s budget.
Actually, the largest area of savings are the dramatic cuts in travel and conference expenses across the entire organization. While I acknowledged above that missing conferences is likely to have a negative impact on new sponsorships and revenue, we do save a lot of expense in those areas as well. The real impact of this is that we will need to work extra hard as a community to stay connected via virtual conferences and all of the other communications channels that are so important to our operations.
There is a hidden, very positive, long-term impact to this year’s conservative budget approach. It gives us a chance to reset and re-evaluate our priorities long term. What areas of investment actually grow the project and improve its capacity long term?
I look forward to partnering with the rest of the board and the community to struggle with this very important question in the coming months. We have a chance to rethink our assumptions of the past and to create a springboard into greater growth and opportunity for Joomla into the future.
Thank you for your attention to the financial health and success Joomla!
Please feel free to share any feedback, thoughts, or concerns with any member of the Board of Directors. We are here to serve the community and your feedback is important and valued.
Open Source Matters, Inc.
The Budget for FY 2020/21 has been approved by the Full Board of Directors and Officers of Open Source Matters, Inc. on June 25, 2020 with motion #2020/093.