Looking forward to a great 2017

Happy New Year! We are excited for a great 2017. This year the WordPress Foundation will continue to pursue our educational mission in a number of ways.

First, we plan to contribute financially to other non-profit organizations; we’ll be making major (to us) grants to Hack the Hood, Internet Archive, and Black Girls Code. Second, we’ll be working with local WordPress communities to organize charity hackathons, helping non-profits benefit from open source tools. Finally, we plan to promote education about open source in economically disadvantaged nations.

If you’re interested in how you can support the WordPress Foundation in these efforts — maybe you want to organize a charity hackathon in your community or volunteer to teach a free class about open source software — please drop us a line and tell us how you’d like to help.

The other major news from 2016 is the creation of the new subsidiary, WordPress Community Support, PBC. This entity will continue to support WordCamps and WordPress user groups across the world hand in hand with the volunteers who dedicate their time.

For more news and details, keep an eye on this blog!

Introducing WordPress Community Support, A Public Benefit Subsidiary

Since January, we’ve been working on switching all operations related to official WordCamp and Meetup organizing to the new subsidiary of the WordPress Foundation, which is a public benefit corporation called WordPress Community Support, PBC (WPCS).

One of the main advantages to the change from the WordPress Foundation (a non-profit) to the WPCS (a public benefit corporation) is that the rules around sponsoring official WordPress events are much simpler. The WordPress Community team has updated sponsor rules to eliminate the barriers to value-add details on promotional items, while keeping rules that helped us form a trustworthy, community-focused sponsor program.

This also means that, by and large, the WordPress Foundation is no longer the financial entity for WordCamps and Meetups. Donations to the WordPress Foundation will still be accepted, and will support the Foundation’s charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software.

One of the few disadvantages to this switch is that WordCamps and meetup/user groups are no longer eligible for non-profit discounts. While this does present a problem for some groups, we think that the benefits we can provide outweigh the loss of the discounts for non-profit status.

WordPress Foundation currently holds a blanket insurance policy that covers all WordCamps in the US and Canada. WordPress Community Support, PBC is being added to that policy as a subsidiary, and we’ll be able to issue certificates with WPCS as the insured party, just like we did with the Foundation last year. All events using the WordPress Foundation name and info on their contract in 2016 will be covered by the blanket policy.

Large portions of this are excerpted from the post here, by Andrea Middleton.

WordPress Foundation: An End-of-Year Snapshot

Howdy! The WordPress Foundation filed taxes for 2012 recently, and we’d like to talk about how we pursued the Foundation’s charter to educate the public about WordPress and supported opportunities for people to get involved in web publishing and open source projects across the globe.

In 2012, the WordPress Foundation provided support and guidance for a total of 67 WordCamps, organized by volunteers in communities all over the world. There were 22 WordCamps in cities or countries that had never had a WordCamp before — exciting! The WordPress Foundation supported 43 WordCamps by acting as their legal and financial entity in 2012. Not only does this provide legal protection in case an organizer is sued, but it also makes it possible for anyone, no matter what their financial situation, to organize a WordCamp, and protects organizers from getting into tax trouble with their respective governments.

Of the Foundation’s total revenue, the majority related to WordCamps that used the WordPress Foundation as their financial entity (43 in all):

  • $345,020 — Corporate sponsorship donations to WordCamps (59% total revenue).
  • $228,132 — WordCamp ticket sales (39% total revenue).
  • $9,343 — Individual sponsorship donations to WordCamps (1.6% total revenue).
  • $3,298 — Donations unrelated to WordCamps (0.6% total revenue).
  • $528 — Royalty income (0.09% total revenue).

Total Foundation’s expenditures equalled $580,161, as detailed below:

  • $525,361 (91%) related to WordCamps that used the WordPress Foundation as their financial entity.
  • $32,741 (6%) related to WordPress.tv content production.
  • $22,059 (3%) related to operational expenses.

Unsurprisingly, major WordCamp expenses were concentrated in venue and food & beverage.

Expense

Percentage of total expense

Average

Food & beverage, including after-parties and speaker events $216,003 41% $4,214
Venue rental $150,347 29% $3,348
Event tees and other swag* $93,208 18% $2,163
Travel scholarships** $26,952 5% N/A
Printing & signage $19,276 4% $448
International WordCamp grants*** $7,054.47 1% $164
Furnishing rentals $6,390.79 1% $149
Insurance $5,280.98 1% $123

*  Classified as advertising and promotion on tax documents.

** The WordPress Foundation occasionally provides travel scholarships to commit-level contributors who require assistance to travel to WordCamps and speak. Also, in 2012, the WordPress community organized its first Contributor Summit, which included approximately $20,000 of travel scholarships for attendees who could not afford to attend the summit otherwise.

*** The WordPress Foundation helped some 2012 WordCamps that didn’t use the Foundation as their financial entity by forwarding corporate sponsorship payments from companies unable to send them money directly.

The WordPress Foundation also supported the publishing of 431 videos from WordCamps held in 2012 to WordPress.tv by providing video camera kits to WordCamps. These kits include an HD camcorder, tripod, external microphone, SD cards, and a hard case for shipping. We covered the cost of shipping the video camera kits from WordCamp to WordCamp and added seven video camera kits to our collection: two new kits in the US (for a total of eight kits in the US), three in Canada, and two in the EU. 445 WordCamp videos were posted to WordPress.tv in 2012, almost double the number from 2011.

The total expenditure of this program was $32,741:

  • Video Kit Shipping: $6,526
  • Video Kits & A/V Equipment: $9,605
  • Video Processing or Videography: $16,610

Major Foundation operational expenses included:

  • Legal and accounting fees: $7,115
  • Paypal fees: $6,648
  • Meetup.com dues for WordPress meetups: $4,500
  • Banking fees (which allow us to execute international wire transfers): $2,341

We hope to publish 2013 data sometime in the first half of 2014. We’re so happy with the way the WordPress community is growing!

WordCamps and Such

Howdy! This blog has been quiet but the Foundation has been busy and I want to catch you up on what’s been going on.

WordCamps: world-wide

Since spring 2012, WordCamps have been held everywhere from Seoul to Seattle, Bucharest to Boston, and Vegas to Vancouver. (Vancouver also hosted BuddyCamp, the first event to be focused entirely on BuddyPress). If you’re interested and passionate about WordPress — whether you’re a blogging newbie or a professional developer — you could certainly trek the globe from camp to camp.

Something we’ve been doing experimentally is to remove the financial burden for WordCamp organizers and provide logistical support so they could focus more on their content and the community. WordCamp organizers can opt for the Foundation to manage their funds which allows WordCamp to use the Foundation as their financial and legal backer and:

  • removes the financial barrier to entry for organizers,
  • protects organizers from being sued,
  • protects organizers from having to answer any awkward questions from the IRS about why, for example, they ran a $15,000 conference through their web design business, and
  • protects WordCamps from embezzlement and fraud.

To date, people around the world have attended 207 WordCamps in 116 cities, 38 countries, and 6 continents. In October 2012 alone, 15 WordCamps were scheduled.

As we approach 2013, the events keep on coming.

Sessions available on WordPress.tv

Back in 2010, we bought the first video kits for use at WordCamps. In 2012, we provide camera kits not only to WordCamps in the US, but to events in Europe and Canada as well. It’s a wonderful program that ensures all sessions, including non-English language content, are published to WordPress.tv.

We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of WordCamp videos posted to WordPress.tv since 2007:

  • 7 in 2007.
  • 75 in 2008.
  • 337 in 2009.
  • 180 in 2010.
  • 271 in 2011.
  • 325 (ytd) in 2012.

Meetups: the WordPress world where you live

I love when people in a community who are interested in WordPress — from bloggers and business users to developers and consultants — get together to educate each other about WordPress at lectures, presentations, hacking meetups, and social gatherings. It shouldn’t cost anything beyond time for someone to run a WordPress meetup.

To help out now we have an official Meetup.com account and the Foundation covers the costs of Meetup.com organizer dues for groups who are part of the WordPress account. We’re reaching out to organizers to figure out how else we can offer financial support to local meetup groups.

In addition, we’re working on other community initiatives to support and expand local WordPress meetups by incorporating feeds from meetups in WordPress.org, expanding the video equipment program, helping meetup groups offer WordPress classes in their community, mentoring WordPress clubs at schools, and developing guides and support forums for new organizers.

Simply put, we’re very excited about the projects we’re working on and look forward to what’s next.

Our First Project: WordCamp Videos

It’s been pretty quiet around here, but it’s been busy behind the scenes as we worked through budgets, tax requirements, legalese and reviewing the ways in which the Foundation could be of most use in helping to promote WordPress and provide education to the WordPress community. Our first program is centered around making it possible for all interested parties to benefit from the presentations and workshops given at locally-organized WordCamps around the world.

WordPress.tv hosts all WordCamp video free of charge as a community service, but not every WordCamp is able to record sessions, as organizers and volunteers don’t have access to the proper equipment. Moving forward, the Foundation will be working on making it possible for every WordCamp to publish their session videos by providing video kits.

We used WordCamp NYC as a test drive, and bought a handful of Flip HD Slide cameras and gorillapods, thinking that small, easy-to-use cameras would be the easiest for volunteers to operate, as well as the safest to ship back and forth between WordCamps. However, we found that the Flips had four serious problems:

  1. Though the Slides were chosen because they can record up to 4 hours of continuous video, the fact is that the battery does not last more than 2 hours. They didn’t put that in the ads! WordCamp NYC was a nightmare in this respect, with Flip operators constantly needing to trade out cameras so they could be recharged, because….
  2. You can’t plug a Flip into an outlet while it is in use. We bought a couple of wall chargers, but plugging the USB connector into the outlet charger still means the camera can’t be recording at that moment (and when it’s plugged into a computer’s USB port, it’s obviously out of rotation).
  3. The USB connector that flips (ha) out is not as sturdy as other Flip models, so that when it is plugged into a computer port or a wall charger, it is precarious, wobbly, and stops charging (and downloading video) when the connection is interrupted.
  4. The sound is terrible unless the camera is right in the front row during a presentation, and you can’t connect an external microphone.

Because of these issues, we’re going to go with a slightly more complex, but vastly more reliable solution. We’re buying kits containing a Canon Vixia camcorder that records onto SD cards, a compact, expanding tripod, an external microphone, and a hard case to hold it all. The cases will provide protection for the electronics during shipping, and we’ll put together a simple user guide for the volunteers to learn how best to record the sessions.

We’re ordering the first of these kits now, and once we confirm that the components we’ve chosen are definitely the best ones for the job, we’ll buy more kits so that we can cover multiple tracks at the larger WordCamps and/or multiple smaller WordCamps. For now we’re going to begin with WordCamps in the U.S., but hope to expand this to support international events in the future. Since WordCamps are some of the best educational WordPress events around, it will be awesome for people around the world to be able to watch the sessions whenever they like for free on WordPress.tv, overcoming the barriers of geography, economics and time that might prevent them from attending a WordCamp in person.

WordPress Trademark in the House

WordPressWe are pleased to announce that Automattic has made a remarkable and generous donation by transferring ownership of the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation. We’re honored to accept this donation, and to preserve and protect the trademark in the years ahead as a keystone part of the Foundation’s mission to ensure that WordPress is around and thrives for generations to come.

It is highly unusual (to say the least) for a company to give away a trademark worth millions, and this move by Automattic is extremely generous and community-minded.

Matt has posted about the decision to donate the trademark on his blog, and our official trademark policy is posted here on this site.

Thank you, Automattic! The Foundation will do its best to safeguard this legacy.

Our First Donation

Exciting news: the first official donation to the WordPress Foundation has arrived! WordCamp NYC found themselves with a budget surplus after the November 2009 event, and decided that the best way to put the money back into the community would be a donation to the new Foundation. Their donation of $28,069.25 kicks things off with a bang.

No, it’s not a typo. $28,069.25.

Specific programs have not been identified/set up yet, but it is the hope of the WordCamp NYC organizers that the majority of the funds can be earmarked toward initiatives to extend the reach of WordCamps. There are a few different forms this could take, so we’ll be looking at possibilities over the next few weeks to find the best use of the money. One idea is to fund streaming and recording video of WordCamp sessions so that people can reap the educational benefits of attending a WordCamp even if they are not able to attend in person.

Whatever is decided about how to utilize this donation, we’re very grateful for the generosity of WordCamp NYC in deciding to use their budget surplus to give back to the community.

Please visit the WordCamp NYC site for more information about WordCamp NYC’s decision to make this donation.