FOSS4G 2016 Travel Grants

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Lessons Learned

There were four types of sponsors we addresses for the travel grant program

  • OSGeo
  • Companies
  • Foundations
  • Community

Fundraising 101

(A lot of these ideas came from Kristin Bott - thanks!)

  • Don't be uncomfortable asking for money - worst case is people say no.


  • The Travel Grants Program should work closely with the Sponsorship program! All inquiries to potential sponsors should include an option to sponsor the travel grants program. We didn't do that and it made it really hard to raise funds from other sources.
  • Learn as much as you can about potential sponsors
  • Write a letter template that seemed compelling, customize the letter to each company based on what you knew about them and

their previous giving level

  • Make a specific ask ("we invite you to sponsor at the Bronze level..."), including explicit mention of what they would get for that investment (booth space, space in program, etc) -- having already mentioned the # of attendees (proof to the sponsor that it would be a good use of money)
  • send that letter (email) to the individual contact (not general email) at the company.
  • as part of the sponsor letter, bring up the Travel Grant program as another option ("if full sponsorship is not a fit for your company right now, please consider...")

Foundations and government programs

  • This is hard to pull off - do a lot of research but still be early. You should send out applications at least nine months before the conference starts. We were too late in one case where sponsoring would likely have succeeded.
  • Focus on foundations that specialize in science, technology and international collaboration.
  • Most governments programs and some foundations require some kind of formal application - this can be time consuming and involve some level of bureaucracy.
  • Check the discussion page for a list of foundations we addresses.

Private sponsors

  • Create a sponsoring option at check-out as part of the normal registration process
  • Also add a stand-alone link on the website for just donation.


  • Ask the OSGeo board about funding as soon as possible - this is the easiest way to get money into the program.