OSMF 2024 budget project presentation

Dear community,

As we approach the vote on the OSM Foundation’s 2024 budget, I would like to share its highlights and goals.

Increases in funds raised have let us address core improvements to the project, spending money on our strategic plan. Specifically, this year, this income growth lets us increase our spending on IT operations, engineering, local chapters, and communication. We are effectively managing funds, and growing carefully. This is the base of our fundraising efforts, and we are very grateful for our strong community support. When I joined the board in 2019, that year’s turnover was £260k, with more than half coming from SotM. Fast forward to 2023, and we’ve nearly doubled that, hitting £464k, and that’s without a SotM event.

The first question we get from donors is about where the money goes. We have focused our work on answering that more easily, building the accounting infrastructure to track expenses vs budget for all working groups on a monthly basis.

On the operations side, since we hired Grant in 2022, he has tirelessly been improving the stability and reliability of our infrastructure. We will be spending a bit less on new hardware this year; the operations working group has, through database wizardry, expertly managed to squeeze more life out of our servers.

We have decided to spend more this year on the engineering side than ever before. Paul Norman is already working on minutely updated vector tiles. Improvements to the website are already happening, and you can now mute unwanted messages. The Engineering working group will be looking at organising a round of microgrants this year. We will be delighted to share updates throughout the year.

Local chapters do a tremendous job in promoting OSM on a local level, and small sums spent there can make a big difference. A microgrant program for LCCWG will provide crucial funds, and help provide incentives for local communities to organise and join the OSMF as chapters.

One frequent comment we get is that the OSMF should communicate more and better. From updates on projects to improving the copyright page (it’s the largest landing page!) to understanding our community through surveys, we want to invest where the required effort has been too large for volunteers.

The budget is currently at a slight deficit, but I am not overly concerned about it. We are playing it very safe with our conservative income predictions, but expect fundraising to increase, especially now that we can communicate on specific engineering projects (vector tiles!). We are also in a very good place with our current cash reserves of about £630k at hand, and have a duty to donors to spend their funds. The usual rule of thumb is that one year of expenses in savings is very comfortable, and our current planned deficit would, if fundraising doesn’t improve, leave us with that. If our income does increase, we have planned for the overflow to go into further funding of the vector tiles project and the microgrants for targeted projects for engineering and local chapters.

It is important to note that this budget is a project, and not the final version; the board still intends to discuss it in detail at its meeting next Thursday.

Are we spending on the right things, and are we spending on them in the right way? Let us know in the comments. If you’d like to support our efforts, you can donate at https://supporting.openstreetmap.org. If you think we should spend money on other things, you can even leave a comment with your donation :). But the most effective thing you can do? Volunteer in our working group to support these efforts. It’s not all about the money; the community’s time and skills are what keep this ship sailing.

Happy mapping,

Chairperson, OpenStreetMap Foundation