In the wake of Meetup.com changing their sponsorship agreements, Technocation, Inc., an international not-for-profit group, has set up a fund for user group sponsorships. You can use the button below to donate any amount of money in US funds via PayPal:
(all monies sent through that button will be earmarked as a directed donation to the “User Group Fund”. In the interest of not cluttering up this blog post with a Donate button for each currency, you can use PayPal to send funds in *any* currency to “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Just be sure to specify if you want the money to go to specifically to the User Group Fund.*)
Note that meetup.com’s fees are $144 per year ($12 per month).
Four years ago, MySQL and Meetup.com entered into an agreement. I have no idea of the details of this sponsorship, though from reading in between the lines, I believe the sponsorship was an in-kind sponsorship — that is, no money exchanged hands, but there were mutually agreed upon benefits. I have no idea what the benefits to Meetup.com were — publicity or free consulting, perhaps.
What I do know is that Meetup.com is changing the way they are doing sponsorships. Arjen Lentz blames Lenz of the community team for not setting a reminder, saying that doing so “would’ve preempted anything”. The only thing a reminder would have done would have been to give MySQL more time to figure out what to do, and the end result would be the same — user groups can stay at meetup.com, and find a way to pay the fees, or they can migrate to a free system.
He also notes that it’s “Interesting that none of the MySQL Community team are themselves organisers or meetups/usergroups, they’d have been informed.” David Skujarne feels similarly, noting “it feels like this was just tossed this back to organizers to fix.” And yet, I have had a conversation earlier this week from a prominent community leader who was worried that MySQL was “taking over” a certain community event that is in its early planning stages. So which way do we want it? Do we want a volunteer-led community, or a community led by paid liaisons from MySQL?
Arjen commented to another post with his concern “that many will just shut down the group rather than move or pay.” In all my discussions with user group leaders, not one of them has even thought to shut down the group. Some have made the decision to stay on meetup.com and pay fees out-of-pocket, others have made the decision to move to a free service, still others are dedicated to finding sponsors (send mail to email@example.com if you would like to be matched with a sponsor), and a few have passed the baton to another leader to make the decision.
Mostly, though, I have had people offering me money (David will be happy to know that those people include individuals on the MySQL Community Team) and moral support so that user groups can continue. And so, I have turned those monetary offers into something more: a fund. Let’s see how long we, as a community, can keep ourselves going.
Will some user groups close up shop? Probably. My own user group has had 40 user group meetings, which would not have happened if MySQL did not sponsor us. If the Boston MySQL User Group closed tomorrow, we still would have had those 40 meetings. So that is still a benefit. With luck and financial contributions, as a community we can stop whining and do something about the situation we find ourselves in.
* If you would like to send a physical payment (check, money order, postal order, in any currency), you can make it payable to Technocation, Inc. and send it via post to:
PO Box 380221
Cambridge, MA 02138
Should you need it for your records, Technocation’s EIN (US tax id) is 20-5445375. Technocation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 corporation, and donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.