Sponsoring event attendees
This document explains the process for obtaining sponsorship for event attendance. We use this model for FUDCons, FADs, and other events where the Fedora Project provides partial or total travel subsidies. Almost everything on this page can be summarized as follows:
- In every case where Fedora Project funds will pay for events, there is a responsible party -- a person or group -- who will handle any requests for travel subsidies.
- That party will consider requests based on a number of criteria, including relevance to the event, how critical that request is, the specific deliverables it will enable, the proximity of the traveler, and the amount of the request.
- Decisions are made in an open, transparent process that complements the rest of Fedora's processes.
Who can apply
The Fedora Project is an open, contributor-centric community that anyone can join. People who spend time contributing in Fedora and other projects have a proven level of commitment to free software. However, Fedora is also interested in strategic investments in people as well as code. No one is prohibited from asking for sponsorship.
The following costs are the ones most commonly covered by sponsorships. Your sponsorship may not cover every single one of these costs, and may be a partial subsidy. Our goal is to assist the most people as possible with available funds. Please request only the amount of funding that you need, and not more, so that we may use our funds to sponsor as many people as possible.
- Travel fare by common carrier (plane, train, etc.)
- Fuel costs for travel by personally-owned vehicle (costs for your fuel and snacks, but not a flat fee per mile/km)
- Meals, in special circumstances and depending on total budget for the event
Your sponsorship is used for the benefit of the Fedora Project, and your colleagues expect you to use good judgment in spending Fedora funds. If you have questions about a particular expense, communicate with your sponsor to reach an understanding, before incurring the expense if possible.
Community sponsorship requires flexibility. One size does not fit all, and it is important that sponsored attendees feel valued as well as accountable.
- Promptly announce.
- Give interested community members plenty of time to learn about the event and apply for subsidies. Use mailing lists, the Planet, and other social media to make announcements the community.
- Be transparent.
- Use open meetings to decide on sponsorships, such as a regular event planning meeting for the event in question. Log and publish the proceedings for the benefit of community members.
- Ensure appropriate travel.
- Sometimes the sponsor may need to make some or all of the attendee's travel plans. In those cases, the sponsor should make sure these plans will allow the attendee to accomplish the goals for attendance, while balancing cost considerations. The sponsor will plan ahead to achieve cost savings wherever possible.
- Clearly communicate expectations.
- Make sure the attendee knows the reason the sponsorship is granted. Make sure the attendee knows how to handle receipts and other costs before, during, and after travel. Finally, ensure the attendee has the means to fulfill responsibilities, including blog reports on the event. For example, if the attendee does not have a weblog, help set one up, or use the Fedora weblog service.
- Promptly reimburse.
- Handle all the attendee's costs as quickly as possible. Contributors are valued and should feel secure that the Fedora Project will take care of their costs as agreed.
- Meet all deadlines for sponsorship requests.
- Remember that there may be many people competing for limited subsidies. Deadlines are necessary so the planners, especially volunteers, can stage a great event.
- Provide all information requested to assist in the decision making process.
- Make the organizers' and sponsors' jobs easier by being complete and specific. The criteria section below shows you the factors they use to consider your proposal, and will help you clarify it.
- Be on time for travel and events.
- Plan conservatively, and realize that as a representative of the Fedora Project, you should be punctual out of respect for people with whom you are collaborating.
- Document your experience.
- Read, understand, and follow the guidelines for event reports. Use the opportunity to create interest in the event and projects in which you were involved, provide links for people to find out more, and make yourself available to answer follow-up questions and help people who are trying to learn more.
- Save your receipts.
- Your receipts are the key to getting reimbursed for your costs in many cases. Read, understand, and follow the guidelines for reimbursements. Get receipts for everything, and keep them in a safe place so you can either give or transmit them to your sponsor for reimbursement. Missing receipts make reimbursement difficult or, in some extreme cases, impossible.
- Communicate with the sponsors.
- Let your sponsors know about circumstances that might affect your attendance or travel. The Fedora Project can be quite flexible, but keep in mind that sponsors may not be able to act as full-service travel agents, and may not be able to change travel plans unless there are special circumstances. We do ask that you not apply for a sponsorship if your attendance at the event is unlikely for some reason. If you are unable to attend the event due to circumstances within your control you may be asked to reimburse the Fedora project for the non-refundable costs associated with your sponsorship.
- Red Hat employees should always attempt to acquire funding from their management chain before requesting sponsorship from the Fedora Project.
Who decides sponsorships
Sponsorships come through one of several possible channels.
- Fedora Ambassadors Steering Committee (FAmSCo)
- The FAmSCo regularly makes decisions on how to allocate funds for regional events, especially those that are not specific to Fedora such as a general community conference. Occasionally that funding will be used to sponsor attendance of Fedora Ambassadors at events. These decisions are made transparently so that FAmSCo remains accountable to its constituents, the Fedora Ambassadors.
- Community Architecture
- The Community Architecture team, as the source of funding for Fedora events, makes budget decisions for FUDCon, FADs, and other events using an open planning process. The fudcon-planning list is the home of this process. The Fedora Project Leader may be a participant in this process.
- Other parties
- The event owner is sometimes responsible for these decisions, and receives a set budget from which to offer subsidies under the process described below.
- In some circumstances, the Fedora Project Board may be consulted, but this is not usually a requirement. This might happen, for example, if there is an opportunity for attendance sponsorship that needs to be considered in light of the Board's strategic vision for the Fedora Project.
This section explains the criteria typically used by planners to decide whether to subsidize the travel of a specific applicant.
- Is this person delivering information that is pertinent to an ongoing project of concern at the event? For example, a FUDCon that includes a critical brainstorming session on Fedora packaging could be more effective with the attendance of a proven packager.
- Does the event provide an opportunity for this particular person to attract contribution to one or more areas in the Fedora Project? An event that attracts computer-based designers, for instance, might present an opportunity for a member of the Fedora Design team to attract new, skilled contributors.
- Is this person a current contributor? Current contributors with a proven history of involvement in some sense are a known quantity. This does not mean that sponsorship shouldn't go to new or potential contributors, but it is a factor for consideration.
- Does this person have demonstrated skills in an area that will promote reaching the goals of the event? For example, if the Fedora Project's speaking schedule at an event requires someone with expertise on RPM packaging and the Fedora build system, it would make sense to sponsor the travel of someone who could give those talks.
- Are there clear deliverables attached to this person's attendance that otherwise cannot be achieved? Deliverables come in many forms, such as working code; completed documentation; or key decisions. If other contributors involved in the same area are expected to attend already, will this person's absence negatively impact their work at the event?
- How important is this subsidy to the person's attendance? Without the full subsidy, will the applicant not be able to attend at all? Will a partial subsidy suffice? Would a change in travel plans, such as attending part of the event, still allow this person's goals to be achieved?
- Has this person provided substantial information about the specific objectives to achieve through attending? Sponsors should look at the proposal critically, because there are usually more requests than can be filled for a given event. The best requests tend to reflect clear vision from the applicants of exactly what they will achieve through attendance, and a link between that vision and the larger objectives of the Fedora Project or a specific team.
- Are the objectives achievable within the time frame of the event? Sometimes it may not be possible to meet every objective of the event despite best intentions and hard work. Nevertheless, sponsors should also carefully consider whether the deliverables can reasonably be finished by the end of the event. Setting and meeting reasonable expectations is a good habit for any project.
- Is this person located in the same region as the event? Regionally co-located people generally require less funding. It is not cost effective, for instance, to fund the travel of multiple people from North America to a European event. In specific cases there may be call for such subsidies, but in general regional events should reflect regional attendance and participation.
- How expensive is the subsidy? Each event typically has a set budget; a higher subsidy amount should carry with it higher expectations, more criticality, or other benefits that justify the expense. Keep in mind that the transparent approval process creates better accountability for sponsors in making decisions.
In certain cases, some or all of these considerations may not apply. For example, the winner of the Fedora Scholarship each year receives an all-expenses paid trip to the next FUDCon in the winner's region of the world, and would not be compared against these criteria.
How to apply
Applicants can record proposals on a wiki page related to the event. The event page may suffice, or another page can be linked for this purpose. The pending proposals are considered during one or more of the pre-planning meetings for the event, and decisions recorded on the page as well as in normal meeting minutes.
These guidelines do not set a maximum subsidy per person, but organizers or sponsors may want to consider such a limit depending on the nature of the event, the budget available, and the number of applicants.