The application lists all the things we were asked for. The forms don’t ask for more details, so don’t blame us for not providing info that wasn’t asked yet. That said, I really don’t mind giving a little more background about the troubles over the last year or two.
First, OSM.be was never really in control of OKBE. Over the past year, there were four board members who regularly participated in OKBE Board meetings, of which two were OSM.be folks. The two of us did the majority of the work, that’s for sure, but the other two also did quite significant things - and one of the former board members also helped out a few times.
We had a bad year (2022), with issues with a large activity (Hack Your Future) burning out everyone who tried to touch it. It had become it’s own thing, with several employees working on just that. During that year, we also lost the two general OKBE employees. We decided that HYF should spin out, and they did in November 2022.
At the end of the year, we thought we were in the clear and ready for a new start. A lot of Board members left, and we even had a few new folks joining. However, the new board was left with two huge subsidy dossiers that should have been handled by HYF itself - which they didn’t. Dealing with those was pretty hard because of the painful breakup with HYF (it was hard to get info from them), combined with the loss of previous experience (everyone on the board who know about HYF was gone). Add to that the loss of the former treasurer and a few smaller setbacks.
The subsidy stuff was a pretty big issue: the HYF activity had been prefinanced by OKBE proper, knowing that subsidies were approved and just needed to be justified afterwards. This is normally routine, except that HYF did not do it themselves. For one of the dossiers, we missed some deadlines. We expected to at worst not receive any further payments. But instead of receiving another 30k, we would have to pay back almost 50k that had already been spent. That difference was enough for a potential bankruptcy.
Around that time, we sought legal advice on what daily management was still possible, and that all Activities tried to find a new home and OKBE was left largely as a rump organization. Our legal council advised to keep fighting for the subsidy dossier, just keep paying bills we had to, and thought there was significant evidence that the OSM.be money belonged to OSM.be and could be moved out. We knew it would take a while to set up OSM.be, so we found temporary refuge at OSgeo.be. This is also where we organised SotM EU from (it looks like that will turn out to be almost exactly breakeven).
EDIT: extra clarification; almost every payment we do for OSM.be is prefinanced from our personal account, then refunded as expenses. This also happened for the incorporation costs. That was about 100 euro for legal advice and another 160 euro for the incorporation itself.
Meanwhile, we tried to fix the issues regarding the subsidy dossier, and after a long time they gave us another chance to prove we did spend the money in the ways agreed. We did that, and have recently received the +/-30k we were still expecting, and obviously don’t have to pay back the 48k mentioned before. So now, OKBE has about 40k in the bank and we are not aware of any other outstanding issues. There’s two or three prospective new Board members who want to revive the core OKBE activities (Open Summer of Code and the Open Belgium conference). So in the end… we could have just stayed with OKBE.
But we’re happy to go solo. As Simon so gracefully describes as “a good laugh”, we had several years of huge advantages of belonging to a large organization, but it all came crashing down. And in the end, Jonathan and I did more work to save OKBE than we would have ever had if we’d created our own NGO years ago.
That said, we see absolutely no need for a membership fee. It’s more admin for us, and more for our members. We ask for active participation from our members instead, which we think is a more important threshold.
We have about 12k in the bank, and have operational costs of maybe 10 euro’s per month (this will increase now that we are an NGO, but not by a crazy amount). So if our corporate members (yes, TomTom, but also local companies, the Flemish government, and MapBox) suddenly ALL stop supporting us, we have a decade or so to change the bylaws and start charging a membership fee. We haven’t gotten any corporate donations as far as we know, but we did have some small donations from members in the past, including from selling T-shirts. That’s also something we could focus on again if need be.
Again, happy to provide context and answer questions - but unhappy with the active distrust. It’s pretty clear you have a problem with us (or just with me?). It might improve the discussion if you directly address the specific things you think we do wrong, so we can discuss those directly.