The GNOME Foundation is one of the cornerstones of the open-source software development community. Not only does the foundation work to create their own free software computing platform, but it also funds outreach programs. As it turns out, those outreach programs combined with some bad bookkeeping has landed the foundation in trouble.
The GNOME Foundation announced this week that it has exhausted its cash reserves and is putting an immediate freeze on any non-essential spending. The non-profit says that the current situation came about thanks to it not being able to keep up with the finances needed to fund the Outreach Program for Women – a program designed to get women into open source software development. Here’s the situation straight from The GNOME Foundation:
The Outreach Program for Women (OPW) has proven to be extremely popular and has grown quite rapidly both in terms of the number of interns and the number of participating organizations. GNOME, as the lead organization, has been responsible for managing the finances for the entire effort. However, as the program grew, the processes did not keep up. The changes were not tracked effectively from the point when other organizations joined the OPW. This impacted not only our ability to manage the OPW administration, but also to keep up with the core financial tasks of the Foundation — tasks which already needed the full attention of the Foundation’s employees and the board.
As a result of these issues, we have only just now finalized our 2014 budget. In the meantime, we made assumptions based on previous years’ incomes and expenditures, and we authorized expenditures for this year based on those assumptions. Those assumptions proved to be more optimistic than reality. In addition, while our outgoing payments to interns must be strictly timed, the incoming payments from sponsoring organizations are very fluid, thus we have had to front the costs of OPW. Fronting these costs has resulted in a budget shortfall.
So, what does this mean for The GNOME Foundation and, more importantly, OPW? According to the announcement, organizations, like OPW, in which The GNOME Foundation handles expenses shouldn’t be affected by any of this. In the meantime, the Foundation will be working to recoup some money through a variety of means, including:
The GNOME Foundation says that it should be able to life the spending freeze by July if everything works out. In the meantime, it encourages those who believe in their mission to spread the word and become a friend of GNOME.
Image via GNOME Foundation