Fiscal Continuity

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Fiscal Continuity IG

The fiscal continuity IG is a group of people who are exploring options for setting up something that can act as an ongoing fiscal host for the annual Code4Lib conference. This group stems from a discussion begun in June of 2016 about "formalizing Code4Lib"; in particular, from a call by Coral Sheldon-Hess for folks to "self-nominate, to join a group to investigate making Code4Lib fiscally sustainable"

This page is meant to both be a record of the activities of the IG and a central point for resources and discussions about fiscal continuity.


The FCIG published its report on 23 January 2017. On 25 July 2017, the FCIG updated it to add an Appendix B summarizing its conversation with Educopia. On 25 August, it added an Appendix C with responses from the Open Library Foundation, and on 11 September an Appendix D with responses from DuraSpace. Parts of the analysis section were expanded on 19 September. It is available on the wiki as well as the following formats:


The following members of the FCIG endorse the report and its recommendations for the Code4Lib community to consider.

  • Galen Charlton
  • Morgan McKeehan
  • Cary Gordon
  • Coral Sheldon-Hess
  • Eric Lease Morgan

Fiscal Options Vote

The FCIG held a community vote to choose among several options based on the report. The vote was held via SurveyMonkey from 12 October 2017 to 3 November 2017. A total of 310 responses were received.

There were two questions on the ballot, each listing a set of options that voters were asked to score on a range from 0 (least preferred) to 3 (most preferred).

Question 1

In this community vote, the FCIG asks C4L to evaluate the data presented in the FCIG Report, and to choose among the three options for moving forward that the Report outlines:

  • do nothing/maintain status quo
  • obtain an ongoing fiscal sponsorship with an organization external to Code 4 Lib
  • seek out official status for C4L as an independent, non-profit organization.

The total score given to each option was

  • do nothing/maintain status quo: 184
  • obtain an ongoing fiscal sponsorship: 805
  • incorporate Code4Lib as a non-profit organization: 413

Question 2

Relative to the option of obtaining ongoing fiscal sponsorship from an organization external to Code4Lib (option b, in Question 1 above), the FCIG Report presents possible sponsorship terms that have been offered by four different external organizations. If the community as a whole chooses to go with this option, how would you rank your preferences as far as the terms offered by each organization?Please assign a rank for each of the organizations below, according to your assessment of the terms offered by that organization. Note: If the Code4Lib community instead chooses to maintain the status quo (option a, in Question 1 above) or to incorporate as a nonprofit entity (option c, in Question 1 above), the results of this question will be ignored.

The total score given to each of the four potential fiscal sponsors was:

  • ALA/LITA: 210
  • DLF/CLIR: 771
  • Open Library Federation: 423
  • DuraSpace: 326

Additional information

Interest Group


The initial purpose of the group is to investigate options for establishing an ongoing fiscal host for the annual Code4Lib conference. It will then present recommendations to the Code4Lib community; further action will then depend on general community sentiment and the availability and willingness of people to take action, either to implement an ongoing fiscal arrangement, to maintain the status quo, or to change the form of the Code4Lib conference.

The IG in its current incarnation is intended to be a short-lived task group: investigate, recommend, then either disband or reconstitute depending on the path chosen.


The following people have volunteered to be part of the investigation:

  • Galen Charlton
  • Cary Gordon
  • Tom Johnson
  • Kate Lynch
  • Eric Lease Morgan
  • Chad Nelson
  • Beatrice Pulliam
  • Coral Sheldon-Hess
  • Morgan McKeehan
  • Gillian Byrne

Other folks are welcome to join. We are particularly soliciting assistance from folks who have organized past Code4Lib conferences (or events of similar size), who have participated in establishing or negotiating with fiscal hosts, or who have relevant legal experience.

We ask that participants in the group discussions accept as a premise that it is worthwhile to spend time and energy to investigate the question of fiscal continuity; if you completely reject that premise, please consider directing your participation to other areas of Code4Lib.


  • c4l-financial-options Google Group This group is publicly viewable but requires an invitation to join; folks who wish to contribute to the investigation are welcome to request an invitation. The IG will operate as transparently as possible, but some discussions and documents may need to be restricted to the core IG members. In particular, budgets from past conferences may contain information that cannot be published (although the IG will try to publish more aggregate budget information for the benefit of future conferences). The IG may also choose to make initial inquiries with potential fiscal hosts; such discussions inherently require discretion.


Fiscal Structures

Ways that Code4Lib could establish — or decline to establish — an ongoing fiscal entity include:

  • Maintain the status quo: the annual Code4Lib conference is run by a different local host committee each year. The local committee is chosen by a vote of the Code4Lib community from one or more competing bids. Each committee assumes the entire financial risk of the conference and is responsible for providing (or acting as) a fiscal host. Local committees customarily pass any surplus on to the following year's committee, but are not obligated to.
  • As above, but without the assumption that the big international Code4Lib conference will be an annual event.
  • Abandon the notion of holding big international conferences, thereby obviating any need for an ongoing fiscal arrangement.
  • Find an institution willing to be the permanent host location and fiscal agent for the annual conference.
  • Contract with an organization that would act as fiscal host for a set period of time that spans more than one annual conference. Such an agreement could be renewed.
  • Become a member project of an umbrella organization that would act as fiscal host indefinitely (and until Code4Lib choose to leave the umbrella).
  • Have Code4Lib qua annual conference become a permanent part of some other organization. This is similar to joining an umbrella organization, but with no explicit provision for Code4Lib to leave.
  • Have Code4Lib qua annual conference become a track in some other organization's periodic conference.
  • As above, but establish Code4Lib tracks in more than one organization's conference.
  • Incorporate as a non-profit organization under U.S. law.
  • Incorporate as a non-profit organization in a country that is not the U.S.
  • Incorporate as a for-profit corporation under U.S. law.
  • Incorporate as a for-profit corporation in a country that is not the U.S.

This list is meant to be comprehensive, so some of the options may be fairly judged to be not worth pursuing at all.


Several of the potential financial arrangements would allow Code4Lib to more readily collect donations and accumulate its surpluses into a growing fund — and in fact, as a matter of financial prudence a long-term fiscal arrangement should be expected to grow the fund so that it is at least large enough to cushion the complete financial failure of a conference.

This raises the possibility that a successful long-term fiscal arrangement will ultimately result in a fund that is larger than would ever be required to run the annual conference, which in turns raises the possibility of some of the money being spent on purposes other than the annual conference. Barring a huge donation, this is unlikely to be a practical concern for some time, but some consideration should be given to clearly describing what would be or would not be appropriate expenditures — and who decides.


External resources on the topics of fiscal continuity and financial arrangements for conferences go here.