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Event Organizing: What Can Drupal Learn from WordPress?

Drupal community events are a great way to meet new people, grow your skills, and expand your knowledge about all things Drupal, but there are a few improvements that community organizers can leverage from our friends at WordPress to improve the experience and share resources. Below I’ve outlined my experience as an event organizer and a few areas of opportunity for the Drupal community.

I began organizing Drupal Camp Asheville in 2015 and joined the Drupal Association’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program that supports community events in the United States and Europe. When I joined, it was described as a way to operate Drupal community event under the same umbrella as DrupalCon with many of the same benefits including: 

  1. The DrupalCon bank account to receive ticket and sponsorship sales funds
  2. Access to the following methods of receiving funds:
  3. PayPal (USD/EUR)
  4. Paper checks
  5. ACH/EFT/Wire transfers 
  6. Checks for expenses are written centrally and paid to vendors
  7. 501(c)(3) status
  8. General liability insurance

In turn, participating event organizers agree to:

  1. Handle all organizing of event activities 
  2. Pay a flat fee of 10% of gross receipts ((tickets + sponsors) * 10%) to the Drupal Association
  3. Profits from the event can be held for a subsequent event for up to one year. After one-year excess funds will be moved to a general fund to assist all Drupal Association activities. Funds cannot be transferred to any other entity, they must remain with the Drupal Association.
  4. Promote the Drupal Association in your welcome message slides
  5. Distribute the Drupal Association camp kit materials (membership postcard, stickers, etc.)
     

Unfortunately, not all Drupal events operate within the Drupal Association Fiscal Sponsorship Program. Some have, or are in the process of creating their own non-profits. We have the trusted Drupal Code of Conduct, but today there are no standard guidelines for how a Drupal event should be organized. We love free and open, that’s why we love Drupal, but a lack of general guidelines and best practices leaves room for inconsistent Drupal community experiences for attendees and organizers. 

There is a solution. It’s us! I feel it’s important that the Drupal community values are reflected in all interactions and representations of the community in order to provide a consistent experience. An event centralization effort could benefit our community in the way of growth and retention as well as reduce cost and duplication of effort. Let’s take a look at what WordPress is doing as an example.

At DrupalCon Nashville, Andrea Middleton, Dot Organizer at WordPress, shared how WordCamp event organizing is centralized. 

Organizing WordPress Community: victories, challenges, and lessons learned

“The job is organizing the community, with organizing the event as the tool to make the community happen.”

- Andrea Middleton, Dot Organizer at WordPress
 

Five key takeaways from Andrea’s session are:

  1. Having dedicated, paid staff to handle event operations is critical for deadline-driven activities, like paying vendors in a timely manner. Volunteers can’t be expected to handle mission-critical tasks. The Drupal Association currently has paid staff to support the Fiscal Sponsorship Program, but I believe the staff mostly handles accounting and doesn’t monitor or regulate the organizing of events.
  2. WordPress has a Global Sponsorship Program which accepts sponsorships for all WordCamps. The funds are collected based on projected attendance and distributed based on the needs of individual camps. New camps receive 80% coverage and that percentage is reduced over time to a minimum of 25% coverage. Reducing competition between Drupal events for sponsorships and allowing companies to sponsor all events is something in which I personally see value. Also, having a percentage of the budget covered by these funds would be beneficial.
  3. WordCamp budget management is all handled on the WordCamp website. Having a shared tool to request vendor payments, review expenses, and revenue, track transactions, etc. would be a major improvement to the operation of the Fiscal Sponsorship Program. The Drupal Association and event organizers would mutually benefit from shared systems and tools.
  4. All WordCamp websites are hosted as subdomains under the same domain. They also centrally host all session videos on WordPress.tv. While this limits the amount of customization a camp can add to their site, it would reduce and consolidate the cost of domains, hosting, etc. Instead of each event reinventing systems and operations, they could be shared. Centralizing websites and videos would also make it easier for people to find events and videos.
  5. WordCamp organizers and speakers receive credit for their community contribution. The Drupal community struggles with how to quantify activities that are not code-based contributions. It would be great to see community builders and speakers incorporated into contribution metrics.

During the Community Convos: Camp Organizing session, Michael Cannon, Chief Revenue Officer at Axelerant, expressed interest in helping organize a centralized effort, from a business perspective.

Community Convos: Camp Organizing

So how can you help get us organized and on the right track to an improved experience for attendees and reduced risk and cost for our community?

Join the Drupal Camp Organizers Slack, #centralize channel today and let us know you want to help. Together, event organizers, business leaders, and the Drupal Association can have continued conversations about what centralized event organizing and support might look like for the Drupal community.

Additional Resources
Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Organization | Blog
Introducing Drupal Through Its Community | Blog
17 Tips for Leading Effective Conference Calls | Blog

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