Finance Committee/Minutes/2024-04-17

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

OpenStreetMap Foundation Finance Committee

Minutes of a meeting held on 17 April 2024

Administrative matters

  • Craig Allan (chair)
  • Roland Olbricht
  • Mikel Maron
  • Harrison Devine


Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved without amendment.

Monthly Reporting

The monthly report format developed by the Finance Committee with great support from Harrison has been well received. Harrison will be doing minor adjustments.

In the longer term the format will be revised to publish fewer numbers, making it more legible to non-financial professionals. It is likely that we will produce two reports, one detailed and one with less detail.

A short textual interpretation of the report will support the less detailed report. The Finance team will use the textual section to be audience specific and to “control the narrative”.


The 20th birthday of OSM is the biggest event of 2024. We will base our fundraising appeals for 2024 on the celebration of our two decades of amazing success.

We are one of the biggest open source and open data successes of the last two decades and we need the world to know that.

Individual Donors

Managing the individual donor campaign is lot of effort, and we are asking a lot of our volunteers to drive that campaign.

This year the 'Individual Ask' will be about and around the 20th birthday event. We are going to need to get the word out and generate some excitement among our individual donor community. There is as yet no detailed process or timeline for the campaign.

Corporate Donors

Fundraising from Corporates follows two streams:

  1. Upgrade Existing Membership Levels. We will continue to work with our existing corporate members to improve their membership levels.
  2. Add new corporates. Build a target list and find and sign up new corporates.

Discussion on targeting

Craig asked about setting up a campaign to identify more corporate users and build the target list.

Mikel and Roland were of the opinion that it was desirable to put a process in place.

However, the discovery process to find corporate users is a multi-year project. Having found them, it is a slow process to move across the corporate hierarchy between technical operators who make the decision to use OSM on a website or nav device and the senior people who make the decisions about funding and becoming corporate members.

We would not expect to see income from such a project in the short term.


We are aware that we need to spend more time seeking funding from grants. There are many possibilities for grant-seeking from multiple sources.

A few examples of funders are the Sovereign tech fund, NL net, Open Tech fund.

The funding pipeline for grants has to be developed. The pipeline stages would probably include:

  1. Sourcing opportunities
  2. Assessing scope and fit of opportunities
  3. Putting together applications and applying
  4. Learning from failed applications
  5. Executing successful applications.

Finding funders and writing proposals is a learned skill and it will take discipline and practice to develop the muscles to get it right. We need to take it on as a corporate endeavour. We already know that failure is more common than success, perhaps 10 times more common, but that reality should not deter the grant writers from working to win every 10th application.

OSMF is a prime candidate for many of the open software and data grants. We are one of the biggest success stories of the open word but the grant-givers have had very few applications from us.

Fundraising team

It is proposed that we establish a fundraising team under the Finance Committee. Their full task description is yet to be defined.

The team would be tasked with inter-alia preparing a draft template for grant-seeking that would form the basis of a more focused application when we find an opportunity to seek a grant. If the template application is well designed, adapting it to apply for different applications will be less work.

The fundraising team would also develop the grant-seeking pipeline with its many process stages so that the conceptual work is done and implementation can be guided (and monitored) as it follows a clearly defined path.

Developing the Grant-seeking Process

This Grant-seeking pipeline concept is to be developed by creating a GitLab ticket.

(See GitLab here)

Once the issue is posted we can get wider input from others involved in fundraising. Close liaison with the Communications WG is important.

Discussions on grant seeking

It was noted that the grant-seeking process needs to convey an impression of a capable and professional organisation. The grant writing process will need to reflect:

  1. a high quality OSMF Strategic Plan and a related strategic project implementation process. The Strategic Plan development and implementation process is a separate but parallel issue.
  2. high quality financial reporting and visibly strong financial controls. Recent improvements in monthly financial reporting meet some of this need. Planned and recently implemented improvements in financial internal controls will also support the professional image.

Noting that the Open Tech fund has a closing date on May 17th. This call for proposals is an opportunity to move on this proposal within the next few weeks.

The upcoming request for proposals is more suitable for projects around specific software. We as a foundation would assist our software developers and maintainers to prepare grant-seeking applications. We do not always need to directly receive grants as the grants awarded to support our surrounding software eco-system will be of great benefit to us.

We will open up proposal opportunities to our community – thousands of eyes on the grant-making websites will improve our chances of finding suitable opportunities for making applications.

Corporate Fundraising Matters

Discussion on managing our financial relationship with two large donor organisations followed. The discussions are fluid at this stage and will not be publicly minuted.

Outstanding Matters

  • Monitoring our expenditure rate to ensure funds are channeled to necessary work. Not the same as standard monthly reporting, but should be reported monthly.
  • Design and implementation of Internal Controls to reduce financial risks and a review of auditing practice. To be picked up after Monthly Reports are working well.
  • CiviCRM and its usefulness in tracking fundraising prospects and donors. Craig to work on learning CiviCRM.

Next meeting

The next meeting will be on 1st May 2024. The meeting on 24 April will not be held due to the Board Face-to-Face preparations.

Fade to Black. Roll credits...

Notes prepared by Craig Allan – 01 May 2024