Budget & Spending

This page records current GNOME Foundation spending policies. As such, it is intended as an overview of how funds are (and can be) spent and should be updated when the Board of Directors approves any new spending policy.

Each policy should be accompanied by a link to the vote where the was approved.


The GNOME Foundation Board of Directors approves a budget for each financial year. These budgets specify the budget allocations for different spending areas.

Some spending areas have particular budget holders (see "payment authorization", below) assigned to them. Budget holders can either be individuals or committees.

Reports for previous actuals are part of Foundation Annual Reports.

The current budget for the 2019/20 financial year is available, when it was approved by the Board of Directors in March.

Quarterly, a budget variance report should be produced and sent to the board. This tracks how much we've actually raised/spent against what we planned to.

Payment Authorization Policy

All spending of Foundation funds require approval before the funds are committed. This applies if something is in the budget, or out of the budget. This policy aims to set authorization limits which enable efficient spending of funds, while maintaining financial oversight for the Foundation Board, and Foundation Members.

Each amount below is for individual line items, rather than time-based. It should be noted that expenses should not be artificially split to circumvent the authorization process. Budget holders should also not approve expenses which would mean that the year's budget line becomes overspent, or expenses which they reasonably consider would prevent planned spending later in that year.

Budget holders can only authorize payments for specific cost center and line items, as specified in the budget.

Expense authorization can NOT be made for items which are directly beneficial to the person authorizing it. For example, the Executive Director cannot authorize a trip for themselves, even if the trip would cost less than $5,000.

Costs can be paid by:

  • Invoices issued to the Foundation.
  • Payments made to the budget holder in advance.
  • Payments made to the budget holder as a reimbursement.

This policy was approved by the board on 7 October 2017 and updated on 14 October 2019 and 29th September 2022.

Authorization limits

Expenditure amount

Authorized by

< $1000

Budget holder

< $5,000

Executive Director OR President OR Treasurer

< $20,000

Any two of Executive Director OR President OR Treasurer

≥ $20,000


Reserves policy

Is is good practice for non-profits to have a reserves policy. This shows that, as an organisation, we're not aiming to create a large profit, but also that we're able to cope with any particular financial difficulty or unexpected expenses that arise.

The current budget policy is to ensure that we're able to run for a period of one year. To calculate this number, the core spending is multiplied by 1.1. Core spending is the staffing and associated operating and administrative costs that allows the Foundation to manage events, community management/volunteer coordination and infrastructure, in support of the GNOME Desktop and GNOME Circle. This is the amount of available funds that the Foundation should have available to spend (ie: not counting restricted funds) at the end of the year.

Spending Policies

The following policies cover spending outside of the normal payment authorization rules.

Board approved travel

If travel has been approved by the board, it can be booked and paid for according to the Foundation travel policy. If all costs are expected to fall under the policy, the costs themselves don't need to be voted on. This policy is primarily used for staff travel, but can cover other cases. In general, sponsorship though the Travel Committee is preferred for Foundation Members, as they have a process in place to deal with events and reimbursements, and this doesn't need approval by the Foundation in the same way.

This policy was approved on 14 March 2017 and updated on 7 October 2017.

Conference spending

The rules for how conference organizing teams spend are documented in the conference spending policy.

This policy was approved on 7 October 2017.

Foundation/BudgetAndSpending (last edited 2022-09-29 17:45:57 by RobertMcQueen)