Regular meeting of the GNOME Foundation Board of Directors, 17 November 2021, 17:00 UTC





  • The board acknowledges receipt of:
    • Governance Committee Minutes, dated 22 September 2021 [2]

Discussion Agenda

  • Year-end finance report
  • Executive Director's report
  • Hiring a Director of Programs
  • GNOME Education Challenge
  • Chat evaluation status
  • Appoint Christopher Davis to the Circle Committee


  • Consent agenda
    • The minutes of the executive committee and September board meeting are not ready, and therefore not part of this consent agenda.
    • The board notes that the secretary has asked for help preparing the minutes and asks the vice-secretary to assist.
    • Approved as a block.
  • Year-end finance report
    • Shaun presents the balance sheet.
    • As expected when we approved the budget, the projection puts us just under the number for our reserves policy. For FY 2023, we will have to have more income or reduce expenses.
    • Neil presents the points from the accompanying email sent to the board, in summary:
      • Balance sheet, our current assets are $1,220K, of which $920K is unrestricted.
      • Actuals + remaining budget shows we end FY2022 with $511K in reserves, does not quite meet the Foundation reserves policy but this was approved. Finance committee planning to tweak the reserves policy.
      • Revenue for FY2021 was higher than projected, from conference sponsorship and donations, although many are GIMP donations and are restricted funds.
      • Expenses lower than budgeted, mostly due to pandemic issues delaying travel, events, etc.
      • Improved on our projected deficit for the year by $103K, reflecting that it's a conservative budget.
      • Considerable uncertainty remains over coronavirus and how it will impact our operations. We hope events will open up and continue to investigate other revenue streams.
    • Philip: When you say that more events will open up, what will be the effect going forward?
      • Neil: Higher travel expenses, but also easier to raise sponsorship.
      • Shaun: It will be a gradual change, we won't be back up to 2019 levels of events.
      • Neil: I'm hopeful that we will have GUADEC in person.
  • Executive Director's report
    • GNOME.Asia is the main area of concentration, currently. It takes place this upcoming weekend, virtual.
    • The end-of-year fundraiser is coming up and preparations are happening already. Board members filling out the survey would be helpful to Melissa and Neil.
    • After GNOME.Asia we'll be looking at LAS and our annual report, and Rosanna will be working on Form 990 and the annual accounts.
    • On sysadmin, Bart has been investigating large numbers of spammers on GitLab. We're looking at a move from our current structure into OpenShift 4. Advantages include decommissioning Puppet and less downtime. Hardware is expected to come in late January.

    • We may do SCALE19. Neil attended COP26 to talk about the importance of open software for sustainability. This is part of our efforts to go broader than just producing a desktop.
    • Note there are a number of vacations of staff next week.
    • We have identified a couple of donations within Europe via the EU's open source policy summit and NLNET which we may be able to go for, and are investigating this.
    • We have some meetings coming up with external people in the non-profit open software space, to get some ideas about where to look for programmes.
    • Thib: NLNET is very network-oriented, although a Fractal contributor got a grant from them. Maybe we could investigate the space around GNOME's email clients.
      • Neil: The programme we're looking at is around user privacy. They've funded things like PostmarketOS in the past.
      • Thib: For the Fractal grant, it wasn't necessary to have a fully complete feature at the end.
      • Neil: It depends per grant.
    • Neil: Another advantage of in-person events is that we got a sponsor for GUADEC and GNOME.Asia next year that I ran into at COP26.
  • Hiring a Director of Programs to pursue nonprofit initiatives and enable fundraising
    • Have we identified individuals who could fit in this position, or people who can help us hiring someone?
      • Rob: We have not started looking. We'd need a nod from the board that this is a change to our budget that we'd like to make. Melissa has been evaluating funding sources, she fed back that our current areas of interest are too vague to fit with many funding sources, which are often more specific. We can refine these proposed initiatives with a Director of Programs who can build the roadmaps for more clear/fundable programs. It would be in excess of our reserves policy but we might be able to find funding for the role itself.
      • Thib: What are the actions to move ahead? Amend the reserve policy and get approval for the hire?
      • VOTE: The board approves the creation of a role for Director of Programs.
        • Passed unanimously
      • Neil to share a job description with the board so that absent directors have the chance to review.
  • GNOME Education Challenge
    • The report was produced and delivered to the sponsor.
    • What did we learn of this challenge? Should we keep doing such challenges?
      • Neil: External impact - supported the creation/acceleration of valuable OSS programs. Produced a fair amount of press/media for GNOME & Foundation. Internally - demonstrated our ability to deliver against a proposal and grant.

    • Would we run it again? Should we? If approached again would we do something like it again?
      • Yes, generally speaking.
      • Philip: Considering the staff costs, was it a worthwhile activity for the foundation financially?
      • Neil: The staff costs were incorporated into the grant with some additional overheads, so it was net positive.
      • Philip: Challenge didn't seem to attract a lot of engagement from existing contributors. Could we find more synergies with existing volunteers if we did something similar again?
      • Neil: If we use the model of the Foundation sitting between the OSS community and fundable external impact activities, it helps us if we can expand that overlap. But there might be tensions between those - i.e. it's not easy to land on both of these at the same time.
      • Alberto: Do we understand the reasons why the existing community didn't engage more strongly with the program? Could we survey?
      • Philip: I don't necessarily suggest spending staff time on researching this. But I am curious.
      • Alberto: GSOC/Outreachy traditionally brings a lot of engagement, for example.
  • Chat evaluation status
    • The Rocket situation is going to bite us soon: Rocket has discontinued support for the database version we're using and the upgrade would take a significant amount of Bart time
      • Neil: It won't explode soon, but we would ideally upgrade. I've told Bart he should not spend too much time on this in his priorities.
    • IRC has taken its toll too: before Andrea and Thib decided to have a look at the network, it contained Ubuntu 14.04 machines running cryptominers. GIMPnet infra admins barely keep it alive for us but are not interested in it, Andrea had to manage the network upgrade almost by himself
      • Thib: Maybe we should issue a warning about the cryptominers.
    • There still seems to be a huge polarisation between IRC and Matrix, not significant love for any other platform
      • Need to find a reasonable balance concerns about self-hosting, IRC gateways usability/reliability, federation and code of conduct.
      • Pursue in the exec committee but perhaps we can make a proposal for community consultation.
  • Appoint Christopher Davis to the Circle Committee
    • VOTE: Approve the Circle Committee's request to add Christopher Davis to the committee.
      • Passed unanimously.


Governance committee minutes, 22 September 2021 [2]

Present: Kat, Philip, Regina, Thibault Regrets: Felipe

  • Evaluation of previous board meeting
    • We have some suggestions for the presentation of the budget that we’d like to present in the next board meeting, including organizing an optional budget review session before the board meeting in which the budget is voted on.
  • Board training
    • Action for Kat to ask the rest of the board to make sure they have completed the BoardSource training by November.

    • Otherwise skipped this topic as Felipe was absent.
  • Future candidate development
    • Regina is still working on the action item to talk to previous board members about this topic and others.
    • The bylaw change is waiting on attention from Neil.
    • We discussed opening up board trainings to non-directors as a way of cultivating future candidates.
    • Going through the Foundation membership roster one by one to identify potential candidates is something that might be useful to do, but should not be our primary method.
  • Review of ongoing tasks
    • Unassigned Allan from any tasks that he remained assigned to. Philip takes over the action item to note down standing agenda items for the committee meeting. Action for Thibault to incorporate the yearly policies review schedule into the yearly list of board meeting business.
  • Next meeting will be 20th October, at the same time. (Note: the 20 October meeting was cancelled, in the end.)

FoundationBoard/Minutes/20211117 (last edited 2022-01-13 00:09:23 by PhilipChimento)