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Evergreen Joins the Software Freedom Conservancy

The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has added another organization — the Evergreen project joins the SFC as the 27th member project. Since we're halfway through 2011, I took the opportunity to check in with Conservancy executive director Bradley Kuhn to see how things are going with the organization.

The Evergreen Project is an integrated library system that's used by a number of libraries around the world. It provides a public catalog interface, manages circulation (checking books out, checking them in), acquisition of materials, cataloging, and sharing materials between libraries. (If said libraries are using the same Evergreen system.) It does not shush patrons who are speaking too loudly in the library, though rumor has it that feature might be in the offing.

Some folks may be unfamiliar with the SFC — the Conservancy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (tax-exempt) that provides an umbrella organization for open source projects. The Conservancy gives projects the ability to collect donations as a non-profit, holds assets for the organizations, and provides some personal liability protection to lead developers of Conservancy projects.

Kuhn left the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) to focus on the Conservancy full time in October of last year. At the time, he said his first goal was to deliver a sustainable budget for the Conservancy and bring its cash fund up to a year's worth of operating expenses. How's that going? Kuhn says that it's been tough to get donations to the general fund of the Conservancy, but people are opening their wallets for individual projects:

Fundraising is the biggest challenge for a new organization. My philosophy is to continue to deliver lots of value to the community and hopefully over time, that value will translate into more donations. Ultimately, donors give to endeavors they see doing useful activity in the community. Conservancy is young so it's still building its creditability for good works in the community. I think what Conservancy has accomplished in the last year is great!

So what's been accomplished in the last year? One priority for the Conservancy has been, as Kuhn promised, GPL enforcement. Kuhn says he can't give specifics, but the Conservancy vs. Best Buy case has taken more time than he expected for himself and Dan Ravicher (who's representing the Conservancy in this case).

Another win for the Conservancy, says Kuhn, is that a few developers and project leads are now on contract with the Conservancy. "The jQuery UI Grid team is being funded through Conservancy (using directed donations they received for the project), and Matt Mackall of Mercurial is being funded full time."

Last year, Kuhn estimated about 10 to 15 new projects joining the Conservancy in 2011. Evergreen brings that up to two new members, but Kuhn says that he's still planning to hit his projections. "It's taken longer than I hoped, but I suspect that my original estimates of having 10-15 new projects joining by the end of 2011 will come true. We've only had 2 projects join in 2011 so far, but there are a lot of projects interested in joining and waiting, and it's just a question of Conservancy's limited resources (currently, I'm the only full-time staffer) to get new joining moving."

Evergreen joins a number of notable projects as a member of the SFC, including Amarok, BusyBox, Foresight Linux, Git, Inkscape, Mercurial, PyPy, Samba, and Wine. If you like the work that the Conservancy is doing, you can donate to the Conservancy using Google Checkout, or via PayPal, or by sending a paper check if you still use those. Donations for member programs are linked off their respective Web sites.

 

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