Travel Sponsorship Policy

Overview

One of the ways that the GNOME Foundation supports the GNOME Project is by sponsoring contributors to attend GNOME events such as conferences and hackfests. Travel sponsorship requests are processed by the Travel Committee.

The GNOME Foundation must maintain effective control of expenses in order to maintain its financial viability and tax exempt status. The Foundation is also accountable to our donors to ensure that we manage their contributions wisely and maximize our ability to pursue our charitable mission. As such, the Foundation expects travelers to use good judgment and to claim reimbursement for only those expenses that are necessary and reasonable.

Read the guidelines below to find out if you qualify, and follow the instructions below to request sponsorship.

Don't panic, just ask. The bar required for travel sponsorships in general is not high. They are intended to maximize participation and contribution, not to make sponsorships a lofty prize only for the few. Don't let the size of this page fool you — it's an easy process. If you're asking yourself, "Should I apply?", the answer is "YES!"

NOTE: This sponsorship policy for GNOME Project contributors is different from the GNOME Foundation Travel and Reimbursable Expense Policy, although some sections are similar.

Which events qualify?

  • GNOME events
  • Conferences or events not affiliated with GNOME where the contributor is representing the GNOME Project

Who can be sponsored?

  • GNOME Foundation members
  • Interns working on GNOME, including Google Summer of Code or Outreachy
  • Speakers (GNOME members speaking at non-GNOME events, or speakers at GNOME events who are not Foundation members)
  • Non-Foundation members who are relevant to a particular GNOME event

Generally, GNOME Foundation members and speakers at GNOME conferences are given higher priority when allocating sponsorships. If you contribute to GNOME, you can become a GNOME Foundation member too! For more information, visit: https://www.gnome.org/foundation/membership/

What’s Covered

Please refer to the policy details below for more information on what is covered. Here are the highlights:

  • Travel costs: flight tickets, train tickets, travel to and from airport, etc.
  • Accommodation: hostel, hotel, etc.
  • Visa applications

A financial assistance package covering meals and other incidental expenses can be requested in the application form.

What's not covered

  • Travel and accommodation if you do not attend the event, for example due to a rejected visa application.

How to Apply and What's Expected of You

Before attending the event

  • Fill out the application form and send it to travel-committee@gnome.org. You should receive a message from the travel committee within 72 hours letting you know they received your request.

  • Wait for the travel committee to process your request. You may be asked to follow up with more information, or you will be sent a decision. Requests usually take a few weeks to process, so send your request in as early as possible.
  • If your sponsorship request is approved, reply to the email to confirm that you accept the sponsorship and its terms.
  • Proceed with bookings within one week of accepting the sponsorship.

Do not begin booking things before your sponsorship has been approved, since we will not cover expenses that are not approved. Unless you get an explicit approval message from the travel committee and you have sent back your confirmation, your request is not yet approved and you will be personally liable for the expenses.

During the event

  • Attend the event and participate in the ways you indicated in your application.

After attending the event

  • Write a report in the form of a blog post. Use the round badge or the rectangular badge to show that you were sponsored by the GNOME Foundation. If you don't have your own blog you can request to add your post to the GNOME Engagement blog by creating a GitLab issue, and the Engagement committee can decide whether to add it in full or as part of a larger post.

  • Submit a reimbursement form within 6 weeks of the end of the event to the travel committee. Provide receipts (not bank or credit card statements) for all relevant costs.

Tips

Searching for and booking your travel

  • Find the best fares for tickets and accommodation: look at various airlines and routes. Buy online and avoid agencies if at all possible, since they usually charge 10% or 20% extra.
  • Use sites like http://kayak.com or https://flights.google.com to compare ticket prices. Remember to save a screenshot or PDF printout of your search so you can attach it to your sponsorship application form.

  • Find a roommate to save on lodging costs, if possible. Ask if you need help, since other people are often looking for roommates. A group apartment such as one found on Airbnb is a good option if you are sharing with several people.
  • Be responsible, the money you save is the money we will use to fund someone else or even yourself again.
  • If you plan to stay longer, for example to do some tourism, you can book your tickets for different dates than the ones you requested in your application. However, that does not change the amount of sponsorship given.

What to do in unusual cases

  • We try to respond quickly, but the travel committee runs on volunteers. If you do not receive an acknowledgement within 72 hours, please follow up with the committee, since your request may have gotten lost.
  • Sometimes personal circumstances or airlines change, and travel plans can't go forward. If that happens, inform the travel committee as soon as possible and we'll figure out where to go from there.
  • If you can't submit the report or write the blog post within 6 weeks, let the travel committee know before the 6 weeks are up so that you can agree to a new deadline.
  • If it would be a financial hardship to book tickets and get reimbursed after the event, contact the travel committee. Earlier reimbursements or other alternatives are possible, and are agreed on a case by case basis.
  • If the airfare that you requested in your sponsorship application is no longer available when your sponsorship is approved, then you may go ahead and book an alternative if it meets certain requirements; see the airfare policy below.
  • Sometimes a flight booking is required in order to submit a visa application to the country where you are travelling. If there is a risk that your visa might be denied, make sure to book a refundable flight. We don't reimburse you if you don't attend the event, so if your visa is denied you need to be able to get your flight refunded.

Invitation Letters

The hosting organization or a person who is part of the local team may be able to provide an invitation letter, which may be required or recommended for applying for a visa. The conference should document the process for visa applications on their website. Should you not find any information, then please contact the organizers directly.

Travel Sponsorship Policy Details

Lodging Costs

You are expected to be cost-conscious and prudent when booking accommodations. We only sponsor room charges (plus relevant taxes and fees) for the necessary travel dates. Your receipt from the accommodations must clearly show the dates of stay.

If possible, please share accommodations with other hackfest attendees. For example, renting a shared house with a separate bedroom for each attendee can often be both cheaper and more pleasant than a hotel.

For many GNOME hackfests and conferences, the organizers will include a lodging recommendation and price range. In this case, you are eligible to receive sponsorship up to the recommended amount, even if you choose to stay elsewhere.

If there is no recommendation from the organizers, you may determine a maximum price by searching on Booking.com or an equivalent website for "Hotels" in the target city with a review score of 7.5 or higher. The maximum price is the lowest price in that list, plus 20%. In this case, please include a screenshot of your hotel search. (Note, we determine the maximum price based on hotels in the target city, but you may also book B&Bs, guesthouses, or hostels.)

We recognize that different people have different needs for their accommodations. If the above two methods of determining a price range do not yield any possible lodging that meets your needs, use your judgement to select a lodging option that does, and make a note of your requirements in your application form.

We do not reimburse any costs except the room charges. The following is a non-exhaustive list of what is not included:

  • Room service
  • Upgraded options to include breakfast with the room
  • Mini bar purchases
  • Additional services that the hotel provides, such as laundry, spa charges, or movie rentals
  • Gratuities for hotel staff or other service professionals

Pre-booked accommodations

At some large GNOME conferences, often blocks of rooms will be pre-booked and assigned to you when your sponsorship is approved. In that case you won't have to book your own accommodations. If this is happening, it should be mentioned in the conference's call for sponsorship applications.

If you would like to book a different accommodation to the pre-booked option, please mention this in your application. You may be eligible to receive sponsorship up to the cost of the pre-booked room, or more if the pre-booked accommodations are full.

Visa Costs

The travel committee will reimburse reasonable visa fees for standard applications. If you require a visa, please submit your sponsorship application early enough to allow plenty of time to apply for the visa. Normally we do not reimburse any expedited visa services. The travel committee may choose to reimburse an expedited visa application at its discretion, in special cases when a quicker visa application is needed.

Airfare Costs

Class of Service

Coach and/or Economy Airfare is the only acceptable class for all flights (domestic and international), unless you provide a valid reason (such as a need for business class due to a documented medical reason), and the travel committee approves a special exception. You must receive written approval from the travel committee and submit a copy of it with your reimbursement request.

Low Fare

The travel committee's approval of a sponsorship request for airfare is based on the travel time compared to the flight with the lowest available fare.

To find the lowest available fare, run a flight search that meets these criteria, and save the results:

  • The search must include fares from multiple airlines. Any widely-recognized airfare search site that lists results from multiple airlines is acceptable, including sites such as Orbitz, Kayak or Hipmunk
  • The search must cover only the dates of relevant travel. For example, if you're attending a conference that runs Monday through Friday, the search must have you arriving no earlier than Sunday, and leaving no later than Saturday.
  • The search must not use filters that might exclude the least expensive fare. For example, you may filter out flights with two or more connections, since the Foundation does not consider those reasonable. However, you may not filter out specific airlines, or flights without WiFi.

Save the results of this search and attach it to your application form. A PDF printout of the first page of results from your browser is ideal. A screenshot can work too. Just make sure the output shows the search criteria and the lowest available fare.

The budget for a flight is set depending on how its cost and travel time compares to the flight with the lowest available fare. Travel time is measured from the scheduled departure time of the first flight in the itinerary to the scheduled landing time of the final flight. We use the following table to determine the budget:

If the travel time for a flight is...

the budget for that flight is...

less than three hours shorter than the flight with the lowest fare

the lowest available fare + US$100

between three and six hours shorter

the lowest available fare + US$200

between six and ten hours shorter

the lowest available fare + US$350

at least ten hours shorter

the lowest available fare + US$600

Any flight with a total cost that is within its corresponding budget, can be approved by the travel committee. Travelers may book their tickets on different dates or a different site as long as they used a qualifying fare search site to determine the amount submitted with the sponsorship request.

Reasonable Flights

We ask that you allow for flexibility with respect to departure times during a desired day of travel, as well as longer trips in order to reduce cost. However, we do consider flights with two or more connections as unreasonable, so you may filter them out in your flight search.

If your visa application for the country you are travelling to requires you to have already booked a flight, then you must book a refundable flight if you are at risk of your visa being denied. In this case, we consider nonrefundable flights an unreasonable burden on the traveler, as you should be able to get your flight refunded if the visa application is denied.

Allowed Baggage

You are allowed one carry on and one piece of checked luggage. If an airline charges for a carry on or a single piece of checked baggage, those baggage expenses can be reimbursed. We do not reimburse baggage charges beyond those.

Expired Airfares

Once your sponsorship is approved, you will have one week to book your travel after you confirm it. If the airfare that you requested in your sponsorship application is no longer available, then you may still book an alternative that is no more than 10% above the originally approved airfare in your sponsorship application. In this case, you must inform the travel committee and include a screenshot or PDF printout of your new flight search, like the one you attached to your application form.

If there are no options within 10% of the original airfare or more than one week has passed since the sponsorship was confirmed, then we unfortunately cannot reimburse the additional expenses without approving the new price. In that case, inform the travel committee and we'll figure out where to go from there. For this reason, make sure to book your arrangements as soon as possible after the sponsorship is approved and confirmed.

Reimbursement Reports

Unless agreed otherwise, you will be reimbursed after the event. Fill in the reimbursement form and send it to travel-committee@gnome.org as a reply to your sponsorship email ticket, along with scanned or photographed copies of your receipts and a link to your blog post or report.

If you are unable to write a public blog post and agreed with the travel committee to write a private report, attach it to your reimbursement email.

You can be reimbursed up to the amount that was approved in your sponsorship acceptance.

Make sure to send in your report within a few weeks after the event. If you are delayed, let the travel committee know so that you can agree to a new deadline. If we don't have a report within 3 months of the event, we may not be able to provide the reimbursement.

If you have any questions about how to fill out your reimbursement report, please contact the travel committee. The #travel channel on IRC is a good place to ask questions informally.

Application Form

Use the form below or the markdown version

GNOME PROJECT TRAVEL SPONSORSHIP APPLICATION FORM

Thank you for contributing to the GNOME Project! Events are very important for the GNOME community to continue growing and advancing our mission of creating free software that everyone can use. We're glad you would like to attend one!

To find information on who can apply for travel sponsorship and what costs are covered, please visit: https://wiki.gnome.org/Travel/

Submit this completed form by email to travel-committee@gnome.org.

******************** * APPLICATION FORM * ********************

Application information

  • Your name:
  • Employment or project affiliation (if any):
  • Foundation membership status: (member / non-member)

Event information

  • Event name:
  • Your role at the event:
  • Start date of event:
  • End date of event:
  • Date of arrival:
  • Date of departure:
  • Travelling from:
  • Returning to:

Statement of interest (up to 150 words)

We need to decide how to spend a limited amount of money in a way that maximizes the benefit to the GNOME Project. This shouldn’t discourage you from applying, but please give us the information we need to make good decisions. Here are some tips for how to write a good statement:

  • Tell us how many years you have used or contributed to GNOME and any contributions that are especially relevant to the event.
  • Tell us what your GNOME-related plans are for the next year, and how attending the event will help.
  • If you're new to the community and there is someone who knows your contributions to GNOME well, and would put in a good word for you,feel free to mention them.
  • Please also let us know how difficult it would be for you to attend without sponsorship. Honestly assess your level of financial need. This is not easy, but it plays an important role in our decision-making process.

Example statement: "I would like to attend GUADEC as a contributor to GNOME Video Chat, which is a new app on the GNOME desktop. The community around GNOME Video Chat is flourishing, and as a new contributor from this year, this will be the first time that I get to meet my fellow contributors in person. As well, I believe it's important to get GNOME Video Chat in the spotlight of the community, and take advantage of the informal contacts with users that happen at a conference. I would also like to get involved in the engagement team sessions. I would technically be able to attend the conference without sponsorship, but it's a steep expense to cover personally, and I would likely not attend."

Sponsorship request

  • Estimated travel costs:
    • (Attach a screenshot or PDF of your flight search.)
  • Estimated lodging costs:
    • (If applicable, attach a screenshot or PDF of your lodging search.)
  • Visa application costs:
  • Total costs (this is the total amount you will spend on
    • sponsorable activities):
  • Own contribution (this is how much you are able to put towards
    • the costs, if any):
  • Requested sponsorship total (total costs minus own contribution; this is
    • the amount you would like covered by the GNOME Foundation):
  • Any notes about your requested amount that you would like us to consider: (optional)

Additional financial assistance

Regular travel sponsorship does not cover meals and other expenses, but we have a limited number of financial assistance packages that cover meals and incidental expenses. Applicants can request one if it would be a financial hardship for them to attend the event without it.

  • [ ] Check this box if you need a financial assistance package. (If you check this box, put 0 for "own contribution".)

Please include any information that would help us make a good decision about awarding you a financial assistance package:

Please check the boxes to indicate your understanding of the conditions

[ ] The GNOME Foundation will not reimburse, compensate or indemnify any risk, expense or liability not explicitly identified and agreed to in the sponsorship agreement. Any additional costs you incur or damages you suffer, even unforseen ones, will not be borne by the GNOME Foundation. You are not covered by any insurance policy held by the GNOME Foundation. You are not an employee of the GNOME Foundation.

[ ] The GNOME Foundation reserves the right to use information about the sponsorship publicly and use it in any advertisements or promotional reasons seen fit by the GNOME Foundation.

[ ] You have read and agree to the conditions of the GNOME Project Travel Sponsorship Policy at https://wiki.gnome.org/Travel/, including the requirement to write a report about the event.

Travel (last edited 2019-07-03 17:03:26 by Nuritzi Sanchez)