About the GNOME Foundation

Recently I have been doing some research into how various technology related non-profits are working. I was trying to figure out the answer to a couple of questions to try to understand the various aspects of each organization:

Membership: (Who and how can become member? How many members does it have? Does it cost money?)

Management: (Is there a paid director? Are there other paid employees? Is everyone a volunteer?)

Control: (Is there a board? Who is in the board? How is it elected?)

Reporting: (How do the officers report to the board and the members? How often are there reports?)

Funding: (Where does it get its financing from? Membership fees?, Sponsors?)

Actions: (What does the organization do?)

Here is what I've learned about the GNOME Foundation:

Membership

There is a fuzzy definition on who can become a member in the GNOME Foundation but it is basically open for people with non-trivial contribution to the GNOME project. In order to become a member one needs to apply via an online form and the Membership Committee needs to accept the application. Membership is free of charge but it needs to be renewed every year. As of Q1 2010 there are 370 members.

It's renewed every two years. You also need two people to sponsor you or vouch for you.

Management

Stormy Peters is the executive director of the GNOME Foundation since July 2008. As I can see she is the only paid employee. Her job is to build contact with the industry and to reach out to various developer communities, institutions and governments to consider using GNOME. She reports to the Board of Directors.

There is also a paid part-time administrative assistant.

Control - Board of Directors

The Foundations members elect the 7 members of Board of Directors on the annual regular elections. The board members have meeting by phone or by IRC on every second week. The minutes of the conversation is posted on their wiki.

Reporting

Stormy Peters has a weekly report on her activities in the official GNOME blog which provides an excellent way for the community to follow what she is doing and what happens in the GNOME foundation.

There are also quarterly and annual reports that include description of the activities and the financial status of the Foundations. This is great as it helps people see what happens and where is money spent. It is especially important as it lets people in the GNOME community feel more comfortable with an organization that has some commercial faces.

Funding

Most of the funding of the GNOME Foundation comes from companies that are interested in the advancement of GNOME. These companies pay 10,000 USD annual fee and sometimes more in form of sponsorship and are sitting on Advisory board of the Foundation. The budget of the GNOME Foundation was 240,000 USD for 2009.

For 2010 they have raised the fees to $20,000 USD annually.

Advisory board

The Advisory board is made up of organizations and companies that support GNOME. It has no decision-making authority but provides communication between the Board of Directors and the member companies.

Actions

The GNOME Foundation is involved in the development of GNOME, maintaining the infrastructure required for the project. It is involved in the organization and the financing of Hackfests and conference. It helps the presence of GNOME on various technical conferences both by having talks and by setting up a booth.

Published on 2010-05-04 by Gabor Szabo

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