Summit Part 2: Funding

Kent James kent at
Wed Oct 22 17:35:12 UTC 2014

At the Thunderbird 2014 Toronto Summit, we discussed both our need for 
funding, as well as methods to achieve it.

TL;DR: "Do we try to raise income of hopefully $500,000/year by going 
directly to our users?" decision: UNANIMOUS

This has already been discussed here for at least 2 years, so there was 
little new that could be said. Of course the devil is in the details.

The problem is clear. As someone said, "We are on a treadmill that is 
slowly pushing us backwards, and we are getting closer and closer to 
falling off the end". Thunderbird is mission-critical software to 
millions of users. There are reasonable minimum expectations from those 
users, of reliability and performance, that we believe can only be met 
with a few staff to keep things running smoothly.

There are other possible avenues to fund Thunderbird that were 
discussed, including organizations sponsoring staff and funding from 
Mozilla, that are ongoing and should be continued and encouraged. Yet 
nobody had reasonable expectations that those avenues could be expanded 
in the near future to meet our minimum needs.

The method we are considering involves using the Thunderbird start page 
for a limited period of time in a visible outreach to users asking for 
contributions. That outreach would include no disruptive or distracting 
user interface elements, and there would be a way for organizations to 
opt out through a preference. The closest well-known model for this is 
the annual Wikipedia campaign, which is their primary source of funding.


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