Directed giving to the Mozilla Foundation

Yesterday I posted information on the Mozilla Foundation's grants and related expenditures in 2007 to date, and concluded by briefly mentioning our intention to fund projects in more areas as we move into 2008. In connection with that, today we're announcing what I call a "directed giving" program for the Mozilla Foundation that allows you to donate to the Foundation and designate your donation for any one of a set of Mozilla-related projects.

It works as follows: When you donate to the Mozilla Foundation, you now have the option of directing your donations to one of four selected projects (Bugzilla, SeaMonkey, Camino, and Mozilla accessibility for people with disabilities). (You can also choose to make a traditional unrestricted donation as well.) We'll take note of your choice, and keep track of how much money has been designated for each project. We'll then work with the people responsible for each project and come up with some worthy project-related initiatives for the Mozilla Foundation to fund using those designated donations.

(If for some reason we can't identify suitable activities to fund for a project, if a project becomes inactive, or if it otherwise becomes ineligible to receive funds, then we'll use the funds for other worthwhile Mozilla-related activities.)

As an extra incentive to help get the program started, the Mozilla Foundation will match 2-for-1 any donations you designate for these projects from now until the end of 2007, up to a maximum of $10,000 per project. For example, if you and others designate a total of $3,000 in donations for the Bugzilla project through December 31, 2007, the Foundation will add $6,000 to that, for a total of $9,000 designated for Bugzilla-related projects. If you and others designate $5,000 or more for Bugzilla during that time, we'll add the maximum matching amount of $10,000 to whatever is designated for Bugzilla.

As noted in the Mozilla Foundation donations FAQ, we're encouraging people to donate because we want to give people more ways to be involved in and engaged with the Mozilla project, and we want to give the various individual projects within the overall Mozilla project the chance to promote themselves and further grow their communities of supporters. We chose these particular four projects because they each had a long history of activity, an already active community of developers and users, and a number of possible initiatives that didn't overlap with existing plans for Firefox and Thunderbird. We're willing to consider additional projects in the future for which you could designate donations; please feel free to send us your suggestions. (However note that we plan to keep the number of possible designation choices relatively small, in order to maintain focus and keep the internal accounting simple.)

If you have any further questions about the directed giving program, please feel free to send us an email at donations (at) mozilla.org. If you've donated to the Mozilla Foundation before, we thank you for your past donation and encourage you to consider making a new donation designated for one of these projects. If you haven't donated yet, please consider supporting one of these worthy initiatives.

P.S. Thanks go to David Boswell for his work in getting this program set up and launched.

Comments

matp75 wrote at 2007-11-20 14:16:

Could you add ligthning to the list of project ?

Frank Hecker wrote at 2007-11-20 14:20:

We considered including Lightning and Sunbird in the list of projects, but decided to refrain from doing so, at least for now. If Sunbird and Lightning end up being funded by the new MailCo entity then I think it would be inappropriate to include them in the directed giving program.

Michael Kaply wrote at 2007-11-20 14:32:

Aren't you actually encouraging people to donate because partial support by donations is required to maintain your non profit status?

Frank Hecker wrote at 2007-11-20 16:01:

An organization can have nonprofit status without having donations be a major part of its funding, or indeed without getting any donations at all. However I personally think that it's a good thing for the Mozilla Foundation to be a nonprofit that gets a significant part of its funding from donations, for the reason I mentioned in my post: It gives members of the general public a direct way to engage with the Foundation and be involved in its activities. If the directed giving program can encourage more people to do that, it's a good thing IMO.

Fred Blasdel wrote at 2007-11-26 17:20:

I find taking donations to be terribly disingenuous when Mozilla has $50 million in unspent Google/Yahoo kickback money lying around unspent (at least as of the last FY). I can understand using donation $ as a way for people to vote on what projects should get funding, but when you're sitting on a pile of money that big, you should be matching at least 20 to 1 to a much higher limit. $10,000 in matching funds represents less than 2 hours of search engine kickback income.

Lame.

Frank Hecker wrote at 2007-11-26 18:11:

A minor correction: the Mozilla Foundation (as opposed to the Mozilla Corporation) doesn't have $50M in assets, and isn't currently receiving any revenue from search engine vendors. However the Foundation does have significant assets (as noted in our Form 990), and your point about making more use of them is well-taken. The issue is that we want to spend money on worthwhile activities that advance the goals of the Foundation (e.g., as outlined in the Mozilla Manifesto), and thus our spending is dependent on how many of those activities are both feasible and not already being undertaken by the Mozilla Corporation or others.

A major goal of this program is to solicit more ideas for worthwhile activities to fund. The 2-for-1 match represents only a minimum commitment on the part of the Mozilla Foundation; if there are lots of worthwhile activities proposed then we'll certainly consider funding them, even if the amounts needed are well in excess of the donations designated for the associated projects.

pwb wrote at 2007-11-26 21:06:

Scrap Camino and put the energy into making Firefox more Mac-like. Mozilla repeats too many major mistakes.

Frank Hecker wrote at 2007-11-26 22:31:

There's actually a lot of work going into making Firefox a better Mac client; for example, check out Firefox 3 beta 1, and also google for "firefox proto theme" to get an idea of some of the UI changes.

On the other hand there are still a lot of people who prefer Camino, and a set of volunteer developers interested in keeping it going. Our goal is simply to help that community support itself, by providing a mechanism whereby it can raise some funds to supplement the current volunteer contributions.

bayareaguy wrote at 2007-11-27 00:54:

I like Camino, especially the Annoyance Blocker.

I know other browsers can do the same thing if you manually set your own blocking css but the fact that Camino makes it easier to do this out of the box makes it a good choice for the younger members of our family.

Fred Blasdel wrote at 2007-11-27 19:48:

So I take it that the Mozilla Corporation is effectively "Firefox Inc.", and won't be kicking back their search engine revenues to other Mozilla projects?

Frank Hecker wrote at 2007-11-27 20:52:

Actually, a very large fraction of Mozilla Corporation funding goes into the Gecko layout engine and related infrastructure code underlying Firefox, code which is also used by Camino, SeaMonkey, Sunbird, etc. The Corporation also funds the server infrastructure used for the CVS repository, Bugzilla, build systems, testing, etc. You're correct that the Mozilla Corporation doesn't fund, e.g., development specifically for SeaMonkey (i.e., development not applicable to Firefox); however such work is a fairly small fraction of the total overall investment embodied in SeaMonkey and the other projects.

James wrote at 2007-12-17 16:13:

Bugzilla - Cross platform, SeaMonkey - Cross platform, Mozilla Accessibility Community - Platform agnostic, Camino - ** Mac OS X only **

One of these things is not like the other. One has to wonder what the justification is for funding a Mac-only browser when Firefox is available for OS X already. Are there really no other worthwhile projects that you could have chosen that would have benefited everyone regardless of platform?

Frank Hecker wrote at 2007-12-17 16:50:

A couple of quick points: First, Camino is an official Mozilla Foundation project and has an active developer team and user community, so they have a reasonable claim to Mozilla Foundation support. However they're certainly not getting a blank check here; the level of Foundation support will be commensurate with the level of support shown by the Camino community in terms of donations, etc.

Will wrote at 2007-12-18 10:18:

How long will the matching-funds incentive last?

Frank Hecker wrote at 2007-12-18 13:51:

The current 2-for-1 matching program runs through December 31 of this year. We may do a similar matching program in the future, but as of right now there are no set plans as to when that might be.

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