It’s been on my task list to post an update about the fundraising at CiviCRM, so I thought now would be a good time - with the release of 4.6 and a more concerted effort to encourage financial support - to review CiviCRM’s path to sustainability. The bottom line is that there's a significant and unsustainable gap between our revenue stream and our very modest operating expenses.
My role, in fact, was to get the project to sustainability faster, however for various reasons, the pace is simply not quick enough. My first task, for example, was to develop a membership program that, as of this post, has just over a dozen members. We’re truly thankful for these, however the uptake on the program is insufficient to put a dent in our budget gap. So, as the lead fundraiser for CiviCRM, this is the start of my ‘getting real’ approach to fundraising. Other open source projects have funding gaps and struggle for community support as well, and while we’re not alone in that sense, it’s not exactly a good position to be in.
Since August of last year, we’ve launched a member program for end users, a technology partner program, and have begun to make improvements to partner and active contributor visibility. We had an incredible sponsor team with Joe Murray of JMA Associates and Kevin Cristiano of Tadpole Collective that really did a fantastic job for CiviCon Denver. The core team itself is putting a lot of time into solving this issue, exploring alternate earned income streams, reviewing CiviCRM’s organizational structure and capacity to scale back expenses further if necessary, and benchmarking other similar organizations to learn about what has or has not worked for them.
As much as we’re doing, there is no question that CiviCRM needs more community support from end users, partners and companies that benefit from the system. So, when I say ‘we’re not sustainable’, I mean that the core team and every end user organization that relies on CiviCRM is on an unsustainable path. The amount of revenue coming into CiviCRM from fundraising is significantly less than our operating expenses, resulting in the depletion of its cash reserves. We’re not alone in this issue… we have 9,400+ organizations that are in the same boat. The question is ‘will we all row in the same direction?’. It’s easy to talk about what the core team can do to improve the ecosystem’s sustainability issues. This blog post isn’t about that, however. It’s about what you can do. See, this is as much your issue as it is ours. Welcome to open source!
CiviCRM is no different than the vast majority of end user organizations that use it. If it goes unfunded, it stops. A very small percentage of organizations get that and have contributed. We are truly thankful for their support, but we need more end users, partners, and technology partners to become a part of this project by making a meaningful financial contribution.
4.6 is out and is available for download. As a core team member, I can tell you that it represents more than just the first major update of 2015. It represents a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to ensure that you have the very best open source CRM in the world.
But, it’s time to get real. And the reality is that there exists a funding gap with CiviCRM, and there’s only one way that it’s going to go away. Make a donation. Become a member. Become a partner. And give back.
Your support, today, determines our ability to continue delivering CiviCRM.