Budget Process

From IdCommons

DRAFT for discussion

Approach IdCommons is intentionally a light-weight organization. It has been designed without permanent staff so that it will spend its funds where they are needed most, without creating self perpetuating bureaucracies. The Internet Identity space is in a period of formation and undergoing rapid change. What is needed from IdCommons now is different from what will be needed in the future, so one of our goals is to keep IdCommons light and agile. Therefore we propose that funding be done on a project basis, with the exception of a few core services.

Budgeting and Spending The current ByLaws state that the Stewards must approve the allocation of funds. Therefore we need a current budget. Once the budget is funded and approved, then it can be implemented. Funds approved under the scope of the budget can be spend without holding a vote for each check.

We propose an initial minimal budget based on current available funds. We also propose mid and high level budgets that would require raising additional funds before they could be implemented. IdCommons has done an admirable job on a shoe string. In order for it to have the visibility it needs to accomplish its mission, it needs to raise more funds. Due to the growth of Internet Identity related foundations, this needs to be done quickly.

We also need to provide accounting services to working groups that are using funds such as IIW and data sharing events.

Receiving Funds

  • Funds may be given to IdCommons for general IdCommons activities.
  • Funds may be given to IdCommons for use by a specific IdCommons working group. These funds will be tracked in a subledger. Funds belonging to a particular working group may be spent by that working group. (We need to amend the ByLaws to formalize this. See also open issues below.)

Balancing inflow and outflow The spending and receiving of funds needs to be loosened and tightened in parallel. We need to make sure that we don't overestimate future donations. On the other hand, we are currently under spending and under fundraising compared to the industry need and interest.

Open Issues

  • Current prohibition on soliciting funds. How to proceed in the short and long terms?
  • When funds are donated to IdCommons for a particular working group, does IdCommons keep a piece of these funds for general IdCommons expenses and overhead. If so what is that rate? Harvard's Berkman center keeps up to 65%, which is confiscatory. Ten percent is a minimal overhead rate. It is always harder to get funding for overhead efforts, so we need to balance allowing direct funding of "working groups" with funding of basic overhead. The Apache Foundation, for example, is a very successful organization, but its core is underfunded and it is having difficulty sustaining large amounts of unpaid volunteer labor over the long term. It is common for organizations to need to pay for services over time that were donated during the bootstrapping phase.
  • Are there other ByLaws amendments pending besides allowing donations to specified working groups?