The Islandora Foundation is growing up. As a member-supported nonprofit, we have been very fortunate to have the support of more than a dozen wonderful universities, private companies, and like-minded projects - enough support that within our first year of operation, we were solvent. As of 2015, we now have a small buffer in our budget, which is a comfortable place to be.
But comfortable isn't enough. Not when our mission is to steward the Islandora project and ensure that it is the best software that it can be. With the launch of Fedora 4 last December, we started work on a version of Islandora that would work with this new major upgrade to the storage layer of our sites, recognizing that our community is going to want and need to move on to Fedora 4 someday and we had better be ready with a front-end for them when the time comes. Islandora 7.x-2.x was developed to the prototype stage with special funding from some of our supporters, and development continues by way of volunteer sprints. Meanwhile, Islandora 7.x-1.x (which works with Fedora 3) continues to be supported and improved - also by volunteers.
It's a lot to coordinate, and we have determined through consultation with our interest groups, committees, and the community in general that in order to do this right, we need to have someone with the right skill set dedicated to coordinating these projects. We need a Tech Lead.
Right now, the Islandora Foundation has a single employee (*waves*). I am the Project & Community Manager, which means I work to support community groups and initiatives, organize Islandora events, handle communications (both public and private) and promotions, and just generally do everything I can to help our many wonderful volunteers to do the work that keeps this project thriving. We've been getting by with that because many of the duties that would belong to a Tech Lead have been fulfilled by members of the community on a volunteer basis, but we are swiftly outgrowing that model. The Fedora 4 project that inspired us to take on a new major version of Islandora has had great success with a two person team
of employees (plus many groups for guidance): Product Manager David Wilcox (more or less my counterpart) and Tech Lead Andrew Woods.
Now to the point: we need money. We have a confirmed membership revenue of $86,000 per year*, which is plenty for one employee plus some travel and general expenses, but not enough to hire this second position that we need to get the project to the next level. About a month ago I contacted many of the institutions in our community to see if they could consider becoming members of the Islandora Foundation, and we had a gratifying number of hopeful responses (thank you to those folks!), but we're still short of where we need to be.
And so, the Funding Lobster (or Lobstometre). In the interest of transparency, and perhaps as motivation, this little guy is showing you exactly where things stand with our Tech Lead goal. If we get $160,000 in memberships we can do it (but we'll be operating without a net), $180,000 and we're solid, and if we hit $200,000 or above that's just unmitigated awesome (and would get turned into special projects, events, and other things to support the community). He's the Happy Lobster, and not the Sad Lobster, because we do believe we'll get there with your help, and soon.
How can you help? Become a member. While it would be great if we could frame this as a funding drive and take one-time donations, since the goal is to hire a real live human being who will want to know that they can pay their rent and eat beyond their first year of employment, we need to look for renewable commitments. Our membership levels are as follows:
- Member - $2000
- Collaborator - $4000
- Partner - $10,000
- $10 - $250+ (at your discretion)
There are many benefits to membership, including things like representation on governing committees and discounts at events. Check out the member page or drop me an email if you want to know more.
* some of our members were able to allocate more funding to support 7.x-2.x development than their typical membership dues. It is currently unknown how many will be able to maintain that funding level at renewal, but yearly membership revenue could be as high as $122,000. I went with the number we can be sure of.