April 2014 Archives

Grants Committee May CFP round

Our May round will open on May 1st. Send your proposal by May 10th (Schedule details).

The official CFP will be posted at news.perlfoundation.org.

Improving the grant program (3) Marketing

Continued from the previous post.

From the comments to Alberto's post:

You missed as a point "People don't know that the grants exist" and "People don't think their ideas/plans are appropriate for a grant". TPF should probably advertise them more.

Let's talk about the marketing aspect.

"People don't know that the grants exist"

To improve the situation that "People don't know that the grants exist", we did the followings in the past few months:

  • Changed the rule to make it more attractive for prospective grantees (grant limit, grant cycle).
  • Reminded each Grants Committee member to advertise the program more, which became: 1) talk given at a local Perl mongers meeting 2) more appearance on social network sites 3) more appearance in personal blog and mailing list
  • Started this blog to make the grant program known by blogs.perl.org readers and search engine crawlers

Among various activities, our new committee member, Daisuke Maki, is has started marketing activities in Japan. He started blogging on the grants program in Japanese and we just got an approved application from Japan for the first time in the Grants Committee history.

It is not only Daisuke; it is crucial that we have global presence so we can reach out to the local Perl community for the marketing purpose. Currently the Committee has presence in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, India and Japan.

"People don't think their ideas/plans are appropriate for a grant"

While we continue marketing as above, the next step is to reach out to such people:

I do not believe this will be a wide benefit to the perl community, and as such it doesn't feel right to ask for funding.

So some people have some ideas but they hesitate to submit proposal because they do not know if it is great enough.

The answer was posted by castaway in the same comments section:

You'll never know if your idea/plan was good enough for a grant if you don't apply! Don't assume it isnt, ask!

Just to add, application is a POD formatted text which explains what, why, how, when and and who.

If you feel the bar to submit an application is still too high, try giving the idea to a smaller audience. Blog your proposal. Get a 10-minute slot at your local Perl mongers meeting. Share your ideas and solicit feedback. If people like it, you are ready to submit an application. If very few people are interested in your ideas, it would be better to modify your approach.

Want to help?

Lastly, let us know if you are willing to help the Grants Committee's marketing. You can give us ideas or you could speak about the program in one of your .pm meetings. You don't need to be a part of the committee to help our marketing effort. If you want to be a one-time "ambassador", get in touch with me at tpf-grants-secretary at perl-foundation.org.

Improving the grant program (2) Bi-monthly Grant Cycle

Continued from the previous post.

From the comments to Alberto's post:

The 3-monthly call for grants, and the 1 month taken to assess grants, means that there is a 1-4 month lead time between "now" and when a proposal can be accepted.

Now we have a bi-monthly cycle, +50% added frequency, the lead time between "now" and when a proposal can be accepted can be as short as 3 weeks. Or 3 weeks + 2 months at the longest (announcement).

Should we make it monthly? Certainly yes if we have more applications. If we get a lot more proposals every two month, it will be appropriate to make it more frequent.

Bi-weekly cycle? Well, the Committee Secretary needs a break :)

Frequently anticipated questions

So the lead time is between (x weeks) and (x weeks + y months). Any views to make x smaller?

Right. It is easy to decrease y by increasing the voting frequency. However x is a different story.

We need this x-week period for public hearing and the committee voting. Here x=3 (weeks) would be appropriate to have enough discussion but it is an option to make this shorter for smaller grants as it won't need to same amount of debate to approve $500 grants and $10,000 grants. It's something we want to consider if we get a good number of small grant applications (I understand the current cycle is relatively big for smaller applications, so it can be a chicken/egg discussion).

Improving the grant program (1) Grant Limit

Last year, Alberto, who ran the Grants Committee at that time, published this blog article to ask what we can do better. I read the comments repeatedly to think about our improvement options. In the next few entries, I will discuss what we did and what we will do to make the grants program more useful.

The first one is the removal of $3,000 limit (see #2 of the announcement).

From the comments made at Alberto's article:

I think the grant limit is an issue. I have projects I could submit, but I think they'd take too much of my time, and $3,000 just wouldn't cover it. Basically, I think I'd need to be able to take weeks or a months off of my job to get done what I'd like to do.

A smaller issue is the grant size - I did not have in mind grand plans like autarch, but I can easily see this being a month of work. $3k/month is rather limited.

Personally I don't think $3,000 is a small amount of money. But I understand $3,000 is not a big amount of money if you, those who live in most expensive cities in the world, compare it with your salary, rent or college tuition.

So the new limit is $10,000.

To answer some anticipated questions:

What kind of grants are worth $5,000, $8,000 or $10,000?

There is no simple answer but the amount should be determined based on the grant's impact to the Perl community and the advancement of Perl. It is always good to see the list of the completed grants to determine the amount. Better not to try to bring your salary into the equation.

How much money does the Grants Committee have?

We do not disclose the annual budget but you can get some feeling by reading the year end report. That said, 2013 was a quiet year for us:

  • Q1: No applications were received
  • Q2: Four applications received. 2 x $3,000 grants were approved
  • Q3: No qualified applications were received
  • Q4: CFP was not opened due to our internal, non-financial reasons

In the end however, don't think about the budget too much. Especially don't calculate your grant in relative scale using the budget. It is true that we cannot pay more than the budget but we can reevaluate the proposal when we get funding (see the rule 1.2 for the exact detail).

Q. I don't need $10,000. I even don't need $1,000. Is the grant program still useful for me?

We will need to discuss our marketing topic separately but grant program is not only about money. With the grant program, you can hire an experienced project manager for free who helps you to get it done. In addition, your project will get visibility through TPF.

One example: Joel Berger's Alien::Base grant proposal was $500. While the cash he got was not big, he got a grant manager who kept pushing him to deliver it (well, it was me). And his grant progress was published to the public through TPF and it gave him good visibility (and maybe some pressure). I hope the grant program was useful and enjoyable for Joel.

Q. How can I help?

Spread the word! Make the grant program known by more people. Well, let's discuss the marketing matter in another entry.

Speaking of $$$ help, you can make a one-time donation or you can use Amazon Smile so you can let Amazon make 0.5% donation every time you purchase merchandise. If your employer has a gift matching program, use that to make the impact bigger. The Perl Foundation is 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization in the US.

Another way to help is to apply for a grant! By having successful and quality grants, TPF will make a big impact. Think about it as an ecosystem; quality grants will trigger more donation from business and we can allocate more money on the grants.

Well, I wrote too much. I hope you are still reading this.

Grants Committee May Schedule

May round schedule will be similar to the March round, with several changes as below.

  • Longer period to solicit community feedback
  • Longer voting period
  • Shorter CFP period

In the long run, CFP period should be shortened further as every round will look the same and preparation can be done beforehand. Or even easier, we may always keep the CFP open and evaluate the applications every two months.

Here is the May schedule:

  • May 1: CFP opens
  • May 10: CFP closes
  • May 11: Solicit public feedback
  • May 22: Voting
  • May 31: Announcement of the results

CFP will be posted at news.perlfoundation.org.

List of Running Grants

We maintain a list of the running/completed grants at www.perlfoundation.org.

Looking at the running grants list, there's one thing I can clearly say: We need more grants!

In the next few blog entries, I'd like to discuss the efforts we made and we will make so that the grants program is more useful for the community.

Grant votes: New announcement format

The Grants Committee has completed the first round of this year. It was my first one as the committee Secretary too. I learned a number of lessons but overall it was smooth thanks to the help from the committee and the community.

As you may have noticed, we have disclosed the voting results in a more detailed way. The motivation is to add more transparency in the process. I hope this will add clarity on what we want to support and what we don't want to use the community resources on.

The voting result of this round consists of the two factors:

  • The number of Yes/No votes
  • The total score given to Yes votes

For each grant proposal, the committee members are required to say:

  • Yes, No, or Abstain
  • Score from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) if they vote Yes

Here is the actual statement from our rules:

Each individual vote shall be a No, a 0 for abstain, or 1 through 5 for a Yes.
The grants which have more Yes votes than No votes shall be ranked according to the sum of the votes.
Accordingly with the available funds, the Grants Committee will agree on how many of the approved proposals to fund.

The total score is relevant to the decision only when there are more Yes's than No's. And if we had too much cash, the score would be irrelevant too (You can support TPF via your preferred ways including Amazon smile).

While we have 11 voting members, the number of Yes/No votes does not always match 11 due to abstentions and restriction on the Secretary's voting.

It is just a start and your suggestions would be highly appreciated.

About Makoto Nozaki

user-pic Secretary, The Perl Foundation.