Discussions related to the planning for, and administration of, the OSI Individual Memberships can be found here.

The OSI individual membership program serves two purposes, both fund-raising, and building up representation from the open source community in the OSI. Traditionally, the OSI has so far focused on the fund-raising side, but the representation piece is also incredibly important for the OSI's reputation. The individual membership count, as of 2014, is around 300 people, which is too low to genuinely say the OSI has a representative sample of the open source community as a whole. To expand our membership, one idea is to offer discounted/free memberships to target segments of the open source community. The organization should certainly also continue general outreach for paid individual memberships, but this is a way to boost representation in areas that really are the heart of open source.

Joining as an Individual Member

Information on the OSI's Individual Membership process and policy can be found on the OSI website: http://opensource.org/members

Currently those interested in becoming an Individual Member fill out a membership form through CiviCRM. The complete process is as follows:

  1. Interested party visits The OSI Individual Membership web page to learn about the OSI and the Individual Membership Program.
  2. If interested, the party completes the OSI Individual Membership Form.
  3. Upon submission,...

Membership Fees

It may be desirable to offer membership fees at various amounts, providing a low entry point for everyone ensures participation in the OSI (e.g. all members can vote), however with greater benefits ties to larger contributions (e.g. discounts on events/products from sponsors).

Currently all members pay $40 annually.

General Discounts

One possibility being explored is to offer regional event discounts, so members who sign up at a specific regional event will pay a lower fee, proporitional to local cost-of-living. (Exchange rates mean that $40 translates to an enormous sum of money in some locations.) This approach also provides communication and promotional opportunities with the regional events.

Individual Student Members:
Any student can submit a request (the exact submission process is TBD, pending the website revamp) and we'll give them a coupon code for $5 annual membership fee. We talked about making this free, but on second thought decided they'll value membership more if they pay some token amount for it.

Individual Complimentary Members:
We don't really have a good name for this yet, but it's a group of memberships we've granted for free, on the basis of occasional requests that come in. We didn't want to call it a "Hardship" discount, but that's kind of what it is. (For example, one that we granted was physically disabled and unemployed, but passionate about open source.)

Individual Contributing Members:
This is an idea I've adopted from the Python Software Foundation. If someone is willing to contribute an average of 5 hours a month to supporting activities for the OSI, then we'll give them a 100% discount on the membership fee. Qualifying activities will be things like participating in working groups, staffing an OSI booth, distributing information about the OSI in their local user groups, blogging or tweeting for us, doing wiki maintenance/drafting, etc...

Individual Affiliate Members:
If an Individual Member is already a member of one of our Affiliates, then we'll grant them a 100% discount on the OSI individual membership fee. We can send coupon codes to the Affiliates to distribute to their members, and also respond directly to requests from members of the Affiliate organizations.

As a special case within this category, we'd also like to grant 100% discounts to any members of the Free Software Foundation. The FSF will likely never be an Affiliate member of the OSI, because of requirements to promote/protect "open source"/OSI/OSD. But at the same time, if anyone is passionate enough about software freedom to be a donating
member of the FSF, and open-minded enough to vote within the OSI (even if they self-identify with free software more than open source), then they are the kind of person we want participating in guiding the future of the OSI.

Membership Benefits

Currently there are no thank you gifts associated with individual memberships. The value, and purpose, of Membership is derived from direct participation in the OSI. Those wishing to support the OSI, may make donations and not join as an individual member.

Sending out physical gifts to thank new members, e.g.  t-shirts or stickers, can be administratively burdensome and expensive.

However, the OSI has discussed various benefits in the past, such as hardware discounts with Dell and HP; discounts for O'Reilly conferences, etc. as done with other non-profits such as the Linux Foundation membership program.

Current Benefits

Listed below are benefits currently provided to OSI's Individual Members:

  • Membership Card - Membership cards are sent to those who request them. They consist of:
    • Member name as recorded in CiviCRM
    • Member ID - their CiviCRM ID number
    • Initial date of membership - the earliest date of record in which they joined the OSI through the current year (the expiration date of their membership)
  • Voting for Board Directors

Potential Benefits

  • Discounts from OSI Affiliates and Corporate Sponsors
    One issue affecting the OSI's ability to offer benefits through other OSI supporters is our membership pricing model. The OSI desires to make individual memberships as affordable as possible and is currently investigating a scaled approach where individuals define their own membership fee. If the OSI does offer such an arrangement, are our partners (affiliates and corporate sponsors),  like Dell / HP / Linux Foundation / O'Reilly, going to be concerned that you can effectively obtain a 20% O'Reilly conference discount for a $5.00 donation to the OSI? [ANR: For O'Reilly, I can say for certain that it's not a concern. Handing out discounts to small subsets of the attendees is a great way for them to increase attendance without harming overall revenue. Also, they highly value giving back to the open source community, and discounts for members is one small way they can do that.]
  • Self-service section of website, for viewing available benefits, and updating contact and payment information.

Other Models

Reviewing the membership programs and benefits from other non-profits across the sector may provide some value in defining the OSI's.

Created by Patrick Masson on 2013/12/23 22:41

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