[gta02-core] A closer look at finances

Werner Almesberger werner at openmoko.org
Sun Sep 13 23:44:18 CEST 2009

[ Breaking the thread here, since I'm replying to a posting that's
  already a couple of days old, and with a lot of new material. ]

Kosa wrote:
> I could wirte the thank you letter :)

I would very much like the idea of "outsourcing" the collection of
donations, be they in small bits or be they in large chunks.

What makes me hesitate on going ahead in this direction so far is
that the parts Sean promised are not on their way yet, but still -
hopefully - at the factory. They play a pivotal role for the
project, not only through their availability but also through their
number and condition, and it's hard to make any commitments before
we have reached more certainty on that.

We can of course just go ahead and start collecting anyway, but
then we need a plan for what to do if there are drastic changes.

Then there's the question of whom to approach and to ask for what.
We have:

- individuals, ask for services. We're very good at that :)

- individuals, ask for money. This has actually already been done:
  Nikolaus Schaller collected some donations in the context of an
  Openmoko workshop in Munich, do distribute among Openmoko-related
  projects. gta02-core would have gotten EUR 90, see page 21 of

  Since much of this would have been eaten up by banking charges
  before even reaching a place from where it could be spent on the
  project, I've asked Nikolaus to add it to FSO's share instead.

  It's actually quite encouraging how much he collected from quite
  a small number of people, but now the question is if this can

- organizations/companies, ask for services. E.g., a promotional
  discount on the PCBs.

- organizations/companies, ask for money. E.g., Linux Fund has been

Each of these have their up- and downsides. As any spammer knows, a
mass of individuals is easy to approach, but particularly monetary
contributions will generally be low (the rich folks are busy on the
golf court and don't have time for gta02-core.) This works better if
you have a great lot of people who know the project, but I'm not
sure we're ready to compete with Wikipedia just yet :)

Organizations and companies can make much larger contributions, but
courting them can be very hard, time-consuming, and unreliable, and
they may attach strings that have their own cost (and take even more
time negotiating.)

Another issue is to decide how to use donations. There will be the
following things that need money:

- import taxes for the components (depends on where SMT happens,
  probably not a large amount in any case)

- purchase and shipping of components we replace or add, probably
  something around EUR 2000, with the modems being the biggest

- making and shipping of the PCBs


- travel to the SMT site

- shipping out the final devices

Everything but the last two positions are basically pooled costs.
So you can either help to finance the pool to make the devices a
little less expensive for everyone, or you can help individuals to
make their device(s) considerably less expensive.

The last two items are also individual costs. Again, you can
consider treating them on an individual basis or you can add them
to the pool. (For now, I'm considering them as individual costs.)

I'd estimate the total budget of the project that will still need
covering, with pooled and individual costs at something like EUR

The value of the project is of course much larger. In the end,
we'll have spent something like a man-year of volunteer work,
there's the value of the components Openmoko Inc. will donate,
and let's not forget the running cost of the openmoko.org
infrastructure we're using.

A while back, there was some talk about creating some form of
organization that could act as a legal person representing projects
related to Openmoko. If someone would want to pick that up again,
this could be very useful, because it would allow resources to be
pooled independently of project details. (Of course, there would be
the risk of overcommitting the resources.)

Also, having all the transfers go through a central pot linked to
an organization would reduce the risk of anyone handling the money
flow through their private account becoming the target of the keen
interest of tax and other financial inspectors.

- Werner

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