Proposal: Community Emergency Support Fund

While members of our community have definitely faced crises since the project started, I think in recent years, there’s been more of a push to realize that FOSS is only made possible by people, and people suffer hardships, whether it’s because of a pandemic, war, or other catastrophe, or something personal but no less devastating.

For people who have sensitive and caring employers, we have resources when things go bad that our employer can provide us. But for volunteers who are underemployed, between jobs, or don’t work for one of these places, they have to go through hardships alone, and if you live somewhere with few safety nets, than can be even harder.

Needless to say, if you’re someone who is a devoted Ubuntu contributor who falls into the description above, and you have to chose between basic needs and maintaining your part of the project, you’re going to focus on basic needs. What I propose is a new sort of grant for community members, akin to the FOSS Responders, where community members in distress could apply for an emergency grant. I know we would want an application process that was fair, transparent, and easy to follow, as well as a funding process that was quick, reliable, and sustainable.

As far as the source of that funding, I’d propose bootstrapping it with a portion of the existing community fund, and adding a donation option for the Community Emergency Support fund alongside the existing donation button after download to grow the fund in the future. Fundraiser initiatives (stream-a-thons, auctions, etc.) could be another source of income, in addition to approaching Canonical for a regular yearly amount.

Even if this doesn’t get adopted, I hope this can inspire some discussion on how not only Canonical can help support the community members who have given so much in times of need, but the community can support each other both monetarily and otherwise.

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Thank you for this post and bringing up this topic to us, Monica.

If I see it correctly, we have paid individual aids for community members in the past when it came to them need it for an event. This is also what I know from the German community, so it is not because of money that someone can not participate in an event.

Do you know anyone or does anyone else here know someone from the FOSS Responders project? I would be interested to know how they did it with the application for individual requests. I find it difficult to give a reasonably objective assessment of whether someone really needs the support. Especially when it comes to the request for financial support.

Or has anyone had experience with similar projects?

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I think I might know someone in FOSS Responders - you’re right, they would be a good group to talk to to find out how they handle applications and how they judge if the request is real. And we need to find out how do they do that quickly and efficiently. If someone needs to flee a dangerous situation, this process can’t take a long time.

I hope others in the CC will reply, and I will let you know what I find out!