Co-budget stewardship team and process!

Continuing the discussion from: Co-budget Trial - starting now til 12 July

We decided in the February global hangout to coordinate a team of local stewards for co-budget.
I make this post a wiki so that we can keep up to date the list of local stewards so that we know who to ask for if we want to put money in a co-budget account, whether it be a personal one or a local instance one.

The team

Steward for the global process and team support: @MyriamBoure
France: @MyriamBoure
Australia: @Kirsten
UK: @NickWeir? or @lin_d_hop? or …?
Scandinavia: @sigmundpetersen
Canada: @tschumilas
Spain: @enricostn ?
India: @sreeharsha
South Africa: ?
Germany: ?

I invite the steward teams to join the #cobudget_ofn channel on Slack.

When we get the team right I’ll grant you admin rights, so you’ll have to be careful :slight_smile: And I’ll propose you a dedicated Hangout session to learn how to use co-budget so that you can then do-it-yourself :slight_smile:

The role of the stewards:

Each steward is in charge of:

  • giving access to co-budget for contributors from their local community. Any contributor of OFN can have access to co-budget so that they can see transparently how the money flows within the community, and maybe also start contributing if they can! BE CAREFUL: one email address can only be used for one account. So if someone manages the instance account and his own account, (s)he should use two different emails.
  • uploading new amounts on co-budget accounts whenever asked by their local community
  • keep the stewardship spreadsheet up to date so that the whole community can be aware of what’s happening, and we keep track on what is done in co-budget.

First things to do

  • First thing to do will be to clean up the accounts and amounts for your local contributors, which means:
    -Ask your local folks to go into their account and click on “profile setting” (top right corner), and change the name so that it appears clearly on the funders list. For example, in my case, I’m managing three accounts: my personal account (name = Myriam Bouré, email =, the OFFrance account (name = Open Food France, email = and the account of one of our users who doesn’t speak English but wants to contribute (name = Suteau Biosol, email =
    -Check with them if the amount on their account is right or not and if not, make the relevant correction (see below “upload money on an account”)
    -Update the stewardship spreadsheet with the updated information (tab “members and balances”, don’t touch the balance column, it’s calculated automatically :slight_smile: ).
  • If you are missing people, add them through “invite people” button, be clear on the name so that they don’t have to change it :slight_smile: Remember to add them also in the stewardship spreadsheet!

##Upload money on an account
This is super easy and don’t worry, if you make a mistake you can correct it :slight_smile:
1- Click on “manage funds”

2- Then click on “update by csv file” on the left

3- Prepare an excel type spreadsheet with two columns: the email corresponding to the account you want to impact and the amount to upload (if you want to withdraw money from an account, just fill in “-200” for example). Save it as a “csv file”.

4- Select the file in co-budget, see the result, and click “confirm” if you are happy with it :slight_smile:
5- Remember to keep track of what you did in the stewardship spreadsheet (tab “added funds”)

##Keep track of money spent
On the third tab of the stewardship spreadsheet (tab “allocated funds”) you will keep track of the money spent by the account on buckets, so that you can follow up if the money has been transferred or not.


Also I suggest we use some common taxonomy on how we name the buckets so that it doesn’t become a mess super quickly and so that we can use Co-budget with flexibility. So I suggest we start all bucket by some [CODE]:
[FEAT] = a feature we want to crowdfund
[CORE] = the core Commons buckets
[AU], [UK], [FR], [NO], [CAN] = local buckets if local instance want to use co-budget to manage local stuff

How to describe a bucket?

For clarity and transparency about who gets paid for what, it’s important to be clear and specific in the bucket description.
Here is a template I suggest, feel free to modify of course:

  • Context
  • Tasks list included/not included in the bucket
  • Calculation of the funding target
  • People who are going to work on it and how much each one will be paid
  • Volunteer contributions to this role
  • Local instance in charge of collecting and distributing the money
  • Links to community discussions

So let’s set up the steward teams and I’ll plan a hangout :slight_smile:

Thanks Myriam. this looks good. we will decide who the UK steward will be. @Sara would you like to take this on. If not I am willing to do it. or @lin_d_hop would you be better placed?

Nice, thanks @MyriamBoure!

@Sara would be the ideal if she’s willing and able…?

@Kirsten one thing I’m not sure to be clear about. Talking with @oeoeaio I think at some point there were this idea that people could have fake money on their account and chip in with that on buckets to represent the volunteer time spent on a bucket.
To be honest I’m a bit worried about going in that direction, as if we all start to count all the time we spend on each and everything we do and value it in $, I am afraid of the consequences in terms of the “free zone” and “gift from the heart” zone that want to preserve.
Also I find it a bit confusing as we want to fund stuff with real money to limit volunteer work, so I would rather propose to write the volunteer time in the bucket description (we can edit it on the flow to reflect the time really spent) but not put it in the bucket funding target nor when we chip in…

I don’t have a super strong opinion on it, it would be great as an evolution for Co-budget to have two types of tokens that we can distribute, real coins and “contribution in volunteer time” tokens :wink: Don’t know… not sure…

What do you think? Should we:
1- start with only real money and see if we feel right with that?
2- Or start with also putting coins to everyone basically and allow people to start chipping in with “money representing time”?
As far as I’m concerned I would be super annoyed if I had to start counting the time I spend volunteering for OFN… I have tried to do that in the past and it was demotivating me more than anything else… So I would vote for the first option!!!
We have experienced with OuiShare a tool a bit based on that everyone had to start counting everything they were doing and valuing each others contributions, it was super annoying!

I have also been part of a project here where we all tracked our voluntary contributions and it because tedious and to be honest, rather silly. However, the information was useful when we approached funders who wanted evidence of our volunteer mobilization. That said - I think you have suggested a good solution @MyriamBoure - where the co-budget bucket is for monetary contributions, but the desription estimates the ‘in-kind’ or volunary contribution.

There is another reason for us to ‘count’ non monetary conribuions generally - I have to say that as a non-technical person, I like the idea of OFN being more explicit about contributions that are not money, and not coding/design. As a person who has neither money nor tech skill at the moment, I sometimes feel like I’m a burden on the OFN community more than I contribute.

Thank you @tschumilas for your comment, I think you point an important question here, which also has raised my attention several times, and on which I don’t feel so comfortable still… It’s a fact we consider in the community the non-dev contributions as not “as urgent to fund as dev ones because there are people willing to volunteer for them”… which I think can’t be a long term statement.
Ping @Kirsten, we have discussed that several time in the past.

Community facilitation, networking, communication, “sales” roles, and product curation (finding ways to make new things possible on OFN that fits all needs) are as much important as dev ones and I think we should be clearer about that. The Canadian instance won’t have been born without your involvement @tschumilas and all your contributions in reflexions, concerning for example the VAT overhaul, are precious and needed for the ongoing construction of our common. Btw I just added your name in the co-budget bucket “volunteer” space for the VAT-overhaul, it is obvious for me that your are part of the team working on how the VAT overhaul should be done. We should all be careful to recognize the different contributors :slight_smile: And everyone should feel free to add their own name on the buckets they are contributing to also as a volunteer, spending time and energy on it! We don’t always see clearly who is spending time on what, so let’s all make it more visible for the community :slight_smile:

It is quite symptomatic that in the 4 core CC buckets, the one concerning community facilitation is not as priority as the other 4 ones. But if we stopped doing this community facilitation, what would happen to the OFN project? The value of an open source project, the “asset”, is not the code, it’s the community. I think it’s pretty risky not to give as much value to non-tech contributions. I know it’s a fact that there are people willing to volunteer for that and as our budget is limited the budget goes first to tech roles that can’t be fully covered today by volunteer contributions… I’m not at all blaming here the dev people as I know they also all give volunteer time to the project, sometimes a lot and it’s also important to recognize that!

So yes, at least let’s recognize the non-tech contributions more clearly by making them more visible, and let’s hope we soon get more budget to also finance non tech roles :wink:

1 Like

Thanks for your thoughts on this @MyriamBoure . Just to be clear - I feel like OFN is an amazing community whose members value all kinds of contributions. I also understand that at different points in time different contributions are move valuable than others. It seems to me that right now OFN is entering a kind of ‘second wave’ of development - based on over a year now of concrete and diverse user experience. So this is great - and so it makes sense to raise money for a lot of feature development right now. It also makes total sense to work out our collective processes for funding core commons at this stage. I hope I didn’t sound like I was whining or not feeling valued - I am thrilled to be involved in OFN, and I know that I bring a range of skills to our collective project.

I can have a go at this for UK but not too sure I understand it fully so may need some help?! @lin_d_hop @MyriamBoure

ok, all sounds good, and i take your point @MyriamBoure about the complexity of managing ‘volunteer hours’. So I think as a general rule we should go with what you say above and not do it. But in cases where something substantial happens, like “someone who shall remain nameless” deciding to make a $3-4K shortfall by donating his time - this should be clearly noted on the cobudget project e.g. that it is going ahead as ‘funded’ due to someone digging deep!

also just want to note here a discussion we had about how co-budget processes get managed in terms of money actually moving… apologies if this is covered in the detail above but I’m hammering through a to-do list and just trying to know things off!

Is it reasonable to think that the person/instance who sets up the co-budget bucket will keep track of where contributions are pledged / coming from, and tracking time / invoicing from the people working on it, and making decisions about when is best time to actually transfer money?

This may well be the system you have set up above, just wanted to confirm this assumption about ‘project owner’?

I can be the co-budget steward for Canada - at least for now. But like @Sara, I’m not sure I totally understand it - at least not until I actually do it. So - might be a need for a mini co-budget steward orientation HO somewhere in this?

@Kirsten agree with you on all what you said, the person/instance who creates the bucket ensure to build the team who is going to work on it, so knows where the money needs to go, so arrange so that the relevant instance invoice the relevant money contributors for the good amount of money. I guess the decision about when to invoice should be done with the instance invoicing (ex on tax estimates: I created the bucket but OFN AUS invoice, so I just told you that you had to invoice Suteau Biosol (the french user) and OFN UK for this and that, and you said you would invoice in a few weeks when Rob actually starts if I’m right). And about time tracking, I think every contributor is tracking his time and that in case there is any overtime expected, warn both the project leader who opened the bucket and the instance invoicing?

@tschumilas @Sara @sigmundpetersen @Kirsten @enricostn @sreeharsha @tim.honchel I propose to organize an online co-budget stewards hangout so that we can all align, I can demo “how to” for those who are not sure to understand, or even better you can share your screen and do it live on a real case so we can learn together on that session :slight_smile:
Here is a framadate (open source doodle equivalent :-)):
I proposed similar timeslots as the global hangout so that everyone can come.
If easier we can also do one in one sessions, if it’s only @Sara and @tschumilas who feel that need :slight_smile:

@Kirsten @lin_d_hop @sara @sigmundpetersen @enricostn @tschumilas did you know that when clicking on “Funders”, then if you click on the amount on the right on any name, you can change directly the amount on the funder account? So no need to import CSV ! You can put a negative amount if you want to withdraw money.
Also in the last release of co-budget now you see in the admin section some new views about total amount, and all the history of budget allocation.

I just had a call with Francesca from OuiShare who is now in the Cobudget team, she wanted some feedback about how we use the tool, what we like, what we would like to work better.
I shared with her that it would be great :

  • to be able to share a bucket as public so that we can invite people to contribute, or ask feedback to members in our instance, without people needing to have an account on co-budget. Also more generally it would be great to be able to set up our cobudget as public if we want to hold open budgets.
  • I said it would be great also to be able to allow people to contribute even if they have not been added in the organisation by an admin. To use it also as a crowdfunding tool, we can share the bucket page of a feature with all our users and ask them to contribute, they could themselves create their account and chip in.
  • to be able to manage multiples accounts with one email and switch from one account to the other within cobudget (for example I manage three accounts, mine, the OFFrance one and th one of a food hub who has contributed to a bucket). Today you have to log out and log in again if you want to switch account.
  • to be able to follow the activity on cobudget in a more intuitive way so that we don’t need a spreadsheet as a side, so all what is in the spreadsheet could be in cobudget.
  • Maybe I forgot to tell about a multilingual version ?

Do you have any other input of what you like / what you don’t like / suggestions ?

Great to hear @MyriamBoure!

What about multi-currency? I guess it is a long shot because it would need continuous (daily?) reference to exchange rates and amounts would be dynamic. But it would paint a more realistic picture because the different instances operate in different currencies and have funds in local currencies.

Well picked @sigmundpetersen this is obviously needed and I forgot to mention it! Well done :slight_smile:

Possible process refinement for cobudget

  • Common timeframe for co-budget projects. 3 month periods? We are currently in April-Jun.
  • So we have a call for contributions and there is a cut off date. Then if projects are funded, they proceed and are labelled “funded” on co-budget.
  • At the end of every month, toggle totals for that project are reported in the co-budget project. For example by editing the project and adding in an “update” (this is the responsibility of project sponsor).
  • At the end of the project a total is reported and request for payment made (by project sponsor to contributors) (as per existing process).
  • When paid, the co-budget project is labelled “paid” (as per existing).
  • This means that ongoing projects like “code review and merge” could be partitioned into 3 month blocks for the purpose of tracking and acquitting payments.
  • This process would still complemented by the “co-budget stewardship spreadsheet” – but the project initiation, progress and acquittal is made more transparent in co-budget itself?

Playing catch-up

  • We need to start – if everyone agrees – by switching the “ongoing buckets to “April-June” timeframe.
  • For this period, we suggest that everybody has until the end of the week (eg May 14) to update contributions in co-budget.
  • Aus also needs to set-up a new bucket for “Standing Orders – unfunded”.

Specifics for Code Review and Merge bucket

  • At end of every month update report in cobudget (eg from toggle) includes all PRs nos. that have been reviewed and/or merged ?

That sounds good @serenity, I’ll archive and update the two core commons buckets now, so that we manage funding them and closing them so that we can start transferring money… Only Australia could commit for now on the bucket, but it’s true on a “cashflow” level we need to transfer the money regularly, so it’s easier to get cash out every three months with smaller amounts for now. We will see when we get some more financial margin if some ongoing tasks should go back to one year timeframe, but great to start with 3 months.

I’m not sure about one thing: when a contributor chip in for a three month period bucket, does he have to transfer the money as soon as the bucket is funded (which secures the realization of the task) or is it just a commitment and the money is transferred at the end of the period when the report is made as an update on the bucket ? We need to know that so that we manage the cashflow accordingly.

I would suggest if that’s managable to call the money at the end of the period (the period of the bucket can vary depending on the task of course), but this can be discussed, if we call it at the beginning, contributors might chip in a bit less the first period (as not able to advance the cash of the next three months) but this should regularize on a longer run, and I guess it’s is safer for everyone to work with real (and not expectedà cashflows…

I’ll change the buckets now, but would be great to know about the cashflow question before we can commit (In France we will decide of a first small contribution tomorrow… we have no grants so it’s only from small donations)

Ok @serenity I didn’t do it for the Spree upgrade, if you want to do the same please break the bucket. For the two CC buckets, I archived them so the amount has been put back in the OFN Australia wallet, you can reallocate money on them.