Ubuntu donations funding
Although Ubuntu has always and will always be free, we provide a form on http://www.ubuntu.com that our users can use to donate money to Ubuntu. These donations are used by Canonical to support and improve the areas that the contributor feels are most important. Donations made to “Community projects” are used to fund people and projects outside of Canonical in ways that benefit the Ubuntu community.
We break each chunk of donations into six-month cycles. As an example, from 12.10 to 13.04 we collect donations and they will be spent in the 13.04 cycle. When the 13.10 cycle opens up we will then spend the donations from the 13.04 – 13.10 period. At the end of a cycle, we will publish a report that summarises where the money was spent.
Any Ubuntu Member is welcome to apply for funding from this donations budget (Ubuntu Membership is required).
These requests are reviewed by Canonical’s Community Team (with input from governance members where applicable) to ensure the money is being spent in a way that benefits the community and approved or rejected. All approved requests, how much was spent and who received the funding will be accountable in the report at the end of each donations period.
Contributing to the donations fund
Ubuntu is free of charge, but when you download Ubuntu, consider donating a few bucks. It doesn’t take very long, but it will allow us to support our community in all kinds of great activities. Development, testing, meeting up with team members to do planning and hacking, support of big events, you name it.
All you need to do is to move the donations slider labelled with “Community projects” to the desired value and you’re done. This is what allows us to help LoCos with events, fly people to conferences and do all kinds of other great things.
Thanks a lot in advance. Your donation, however small, is much appreciated by a very large community of people who are making Ubuntu better for you.
Our primary goal is to ensure that we can direct the donations where they are needed most and to support a range of different projects and communities within the Ubuntu family (which includes our flavours).
Please note that we won’t just write a check for a chunk of money to an individual or team. All requests must have a specific purpose for the funding.
Here are some guidelines for funding requests. Before you apply for funding, please review these guidelines as if your request doesn’t fall within them, it will likely be rejected:
- You must be an Ubuntu Member to apply for funding.
- When applying for funding as part of a team (e.g. LoCo Team), please coordinate with your team to ensure everyone is happy with the funding request.
- We have a limited amount of funding in each cycle, and we want to ensure as many projects benefit from it, so please only ask for what you need.
- Requests must have a specific purpose in mind (e.g. equipment, sponsorship for as conference/event, travel etc). Please don’t ask for a sum of money without a specific purpose.
- When specifying the amount, you should ensure that that amount is the full amount you need (we will only fund the amount you request). If your submission is short by a certain amount, you will need to file a full new submission which will delay the process. Also be sure to start your planning early (ie. flight prices will go up closer to when you need them).
- Please don’t ask for money retroactively (e.g. after you travelled to an event). We’d like to be notified beforehand. This way we can avoid cases where the requester is stuck with the costs if the request should get declined.
- Please include as much information about the request as you can. Include any suppliers, details of how payment should be received etc.
- All requests will need some documentation of what the money purchased (e.g. a receipt, invoice, email thread etc). We will ask to see these documents when the request is approved.
- In some cases we will follow up for more information, or refer to our governance boards for further guidance.
- Payments are made in either US Dollars, Euros, or British Pounds.
- In cases where we fund sponsorship or travel to an event, we ask that you provide a public trip report/blog entry about the event to share with our community.
- If your request is rejected, don’t get angry; unfortunately, we can’t approve them all. All decisions are final.
How to apply for funding
Applying for funding is simple. Please, first review the guidelines above and then simply go to this form and fill in the form and we will follow up with you soon.
Here are some examples of common areas we will likely fund:
- Sponsorship for upstream events and LoCo Team events.
- LoCo costs (e.g. postage costs for sending equipment to different team members).
- Equipment (e.g. if a community member wants to add support for the equipment to Ubuntu).
- Travel (e.g. coverage of full or part of the expenses for attending an event).
Here are some things we will not fund:
- Anything illegal.
- Sending a check for an amount to an individual or team.
Q: Who can apply for funding?
A: Any Ubuntu Member. We will prioritise requests on your standing and reputation in the community (e.g. requests from well known Ubuntu Members with significant and sustained contributions) will get precedent. This does not mean more technical people will automatically get higher priority, rather it prioritises those with a strong reputation who will use the money most effectively.
Q: What can I ask for funding for?
A: You can ask for funding for items that needs purchasing that bring value to the Ubuntu community (e.g. sponsorship of an event, equipment, travel etc). Please note that we will only approve requests where the money will benefit the Ubuntu family of projects (Ubuntu and flavours).
Q: What if I don’t know the exact cost, or the cost changes?
A: In many cases, the exact cost for travel or food is not known ahead of time, or is subject to change between the time you make a request and when it is approved. In these cases, you should provide your best estimate for the cost, which we will use in reviewing your request, and we will provide the exact cost when it is known.
Q: How is payment made?
A: It depends on the request. As an example, if you need coffee for an event, we would likely pay the vendor directly. If you need equipment, we would likely purchase it for you and then send it to you. If it is a travel request we may coordinate the booking with you. We will never write a check and send it to an individual unless it is for reimbursement.
Q: Why is Canonical coordinating this and not a community board?
A: Operating the donations programme involves a lot of complexity surrounding taxes, tracking requests, gathering further information, and ensuring the money is objectively distributed across Ubuntu, our flavours, upstream, and our LoCo teams. This (a) involves a lot of work, (b) requires some commercial accountability (e.g. taxes) and (c) should be as thin and non-bureaucratic as possible. The Community Team at Canonical is in a good position to coordinate this work, and will regularly reach out to leaders in the Ubuntu project (such as our governance boards and councils) and flavours to query requests where further information is needed. Accountability for this work will be provided with the regular report.
Q: How can I see how the money is spent?
A: A report is published every six months at release time that summarises the budget for that cycle as well as where the money was spent.
Q: What happens to money that is not spent in a cycle?
A: The remaining funds will roll over to the next cycle.
Q: Does Canonical take a fee for managing this programme?
A: No. All donations provided by users will be distributed to projects and teams.
Getting in touch
If you have any further questions, please email Claire Newman here.