Board/Minutes/2023-07/Corporate Membership revision

From OpenStreetMap Foundation
< Board‎ | Minutes‎ | 2023-07

Content copied from as on 2023-07-26. The OSM Foundation board approved on 2023-07-27 the changes mentioned below.

Corporate Membership Revision

The OpenStreetMap Foundation will revise the corporate membership levels to align more with scale of corporate operation than strictly with benefits, and update amounts of tiers to reflect updated financial picture.


Corporate Membership tiers were set 6 years ago, and no longer reflect financial needs of the OSMF nor expectations of level of support from companies.

The benefits have not been a clear fit for the levels of support. The level at which members join should be more aligned with the size of their operation. We only recently signed on our first top tier member, yet the top tier should be the default for the other large company members.

One of the key benefits has been advisory board membership, but by limiting this to the higher tiers we miss out on advice from small and medium enterprises which are an important consituency.


  • Increase all levels by ~100~%
  • Associate levels with size of operation.
  • Present Supporter level in a somewhat different light than other tiers (you can also show your support..)
  • Simplify and somewhat decouple benefits.
    • Presence on OSMF website for all levels, scaled to level of support.
    • All levels get Advisory Board except Supporter
    • Drop "First access to SotM sponsor opportunities"
    • Make press-release gold level
    • Change platinum level to "consultations with board and working groups"
  • With more groups in the advisory board, create three different sub lists (advisory-localchapter, advisory-silverbronze, advisory-platinumgold), all of which receive email to existing general advisory board list. Gives us the option to address the groups distinctly if needed.
  • Give an optional grace period for current members for their next renewal to be at the previous cost. But strongly encourage them to go to new rates, or a higher level.
  • When ready, offer bundled State of the Map and regional State of the Map, as well as donation campaign or "add ons" to a complete funding package aligned with membership.

Open Questions

  • What is the right metric for assessment of tier? Revenue, number of employees? A strict rubric or guidelines?
  • Is 100% the right level of increase?
  • How do we handle corporate memberships that are in arrears? What is the process for indicating that payment is late? Note that companies might be in touch with us, but due to procurement complexities the payments might be delayed. -> we need some process, timelines, and documentation practices

Steps from Here

  • Present to Board for discussion at June 2023 Board meeting.
  • Incorporate feedback and present this plan for approval at July 2023 Board meeting or in circular.
  • Following approval, post and communicate new tiers

Previous Notes

(from Courtney)

Here is a summary of thinking re: the recommendation to change the corporate membership levels:

I proposed some changes to the corporate membership text. I got feedback from you, the board, and Mikel put out some questions to advisory committee members. I then did a revised version of the proposed text that is reflective of the board's feedback and some of the corporate feedback. The revision was approved, but not the tiers, pending further consideration.

Here are some comments on the proposal, tiers, and the advisory committee feedback:

We could "carve out" those who got advisory seats for the Gold level in 2023. Then, in 2024, the companies who want to keep their seat will need to give at the Platinum level. They will get more than a year of notice, which is plenty, and we should encourage them to upgrade early.

It was suggested that access to Working Groups would be appreciated. This doesn't have to create a burden of time, because such access may even reduce errors made by corporations. The process for this can be made very transparent: For example: "send an email with your precise questions and a member of the Working Group will contact you within XX days of your request to discuss."

The board can be clear that a seat on the advisory committee is a privilege that comes with the expectation of collaboration. The committee should help the board, not be a burden on it, and vice versa. The committee could even nominate a coordinator who can set meetings and agendas and report meeting minutes.

Angelina proposed deemphasizing benefits. This has a lot of merit. You could simply say "membership in the OSMF is encouraged for all companies who use OSM. We recommend a membership fee based on the size of your company." Tiers could then simply be tied to the company's size or revenue, or some other objective measure. It would be simple and transparent.

Regarding people who want more outreach from the board/wanting less antagonism from the board. I might suggest that 'less antagonism' is equal to or more important than "more outreach." It's all in *how* things are said, not *what* is said. For example, it is not antagonistic to point out that the attribution is being done incorrectly or that a company is editing improperly, but it is antagonistic to imply that the company was intentionally obtuse and/or is the definition of evil. Members of the CWG can help the board when it needs to say something tough, but fair, to a company, especially in public forums.

People like the idea of a press release or blog post as part of their membership. This is not a hard thing for the CWG to deliver.

A "clear line of site" to the impact of the donation is important. I think we agree on this and I think clearing up the language on the pages and in the renewal letters will help a lot.

Related: a stable, annual membership fee over a multi-year cycle is easier to support than 'ad hoc' requests. "It would be much easier for us to pay for a membership, a SOTM sponsorship and possibly an additional donation (for example to support infra) at one time rather than having to do three separate transactions." We heard this a couple of times from the advisory committee. It's hard to get a purchase order and it's easier to have one line item in a budget than several.


Hi, again,

Having had time to think about it, I think that changing to a recommendation based on the company's size is a strong idea for a couple of reasons.

1. It can be more closely tied to the obligation for attribution so that the message becomes something like: "If you use OSM data, you must attribute it, and our strong suggestion is that you also support the project commensurate with your organization's annual revenue."

2. It's confident. It says "look, you're benefiting, you need to support." Instead of "if you support us, we will do nice things for you." It's a better approach for an organization that isn't ever going to have major gifts officers who can continuously cultivate each year's gift.

3. We can easily put this out to the many small orgs that use OSM with a request to identify the appropriate level and join as members.

We should still tweak the language about "what is the advisory board" and who gets to be on it.