As noted in a blog post by Mitchell Baker, yesterday we posted various 2006 financial documents for the Mozilla Foundation, including our 2006 Form 990, a 2006 consolidated financial statement for the Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation, and a FAQ on 2006 finances. The 2006 financial FAQ in particular contains some figures on Mozilla Foundation grants and related expenditures for 2006. In this post I wanted to describe in a bit more detail what activities the Mozilla Foundation funded in 2006.
Before I get into the detailed list of projects and activities we funded, I wanted to provide a bit of background. First and foremost, we often use the term “grants” very loosely to cover all of the activities we fund. In actual fact our funding includes the following categories:
- grants made to other non-profit organizations that are exempt from taxation under IRC Section 501(c)(3), and to non-US nonprofit organizations that we consider equivalent to US-based 501(c)(3) organizations
- payments for software development and related activities made to independent individuals (i.e., people who aren’t otherwise associated with the Mozilla Foundation or Corporation)
- sponsorship to allow the above individuals and other contributors to travel to conferences and other meetings, along with sponsorship of conferences and meetings themselves
As noted in the 2006 financial FAQ, only items in the first category are true grants and reported as such; the other items are listed under “consulting fees”, “travel”, “conferences”, or other categories. However note that all these expenditures are over and above what it takes to keep the Foundation operating, i.e., they don’t include salaries and related expenses for myself, David Boswell, Gerv Markham, and Zak Greant, nor do they include other basic operational expenses (e.g., for accounting, auditing, etc.).
Second, our primary goal with grants and related expenditures is to support the principles of the Mozilla Manifesto, the overall mission of the Mozilla Foundation, and the work of the Mozilla project, while not duplicating efforts undertaken by the Mozilla Corporation or (in future) by the new MailCo entity. That means that on the one hand we aren’t going to be a funder of any and all charitable activities, and on the other hand we aren’t going to fund activities that the Mozilla Corporation (or MailCo) are already doing or are planning to do in the relatively short term.
One major area of activity for the Foundation has been supporting efforts to make the Web (and the Internet in general) more accessible to people with disabilities. This is an area that spans across the entire Mozilla project and also encompasses other areas outside the Mozilla project proper, in particular the problem of providing open source infrastructure, tools, and applications to support accessibility. For more on this topic and how it relates to the Foundation, see my comments on how accessibility relates to the Foundation’s mission and my more recent discussion of a Mozilla accessibility vision and strategy.
Finally, the Foundation’s grant and related activities are separate from the “community program” (sometimes referred to as “community giving”) run by the Mozilla Corporation, which is primarily directed at supporting dedicated volunteer Mozilla contributors.
For more on the history behind the Foundation’s grants and related activities, see my blog post from July 2006. I’ll come back to some of the thoughts in that post in my conclusion below.
Grants and related expenditures in 2006
Now to the details on items we funded in 2006. As already noted in the 2006 financial FAQ, we made two grants in 2006 that were reported as such (with grantees as noted):
- Support and maintenance of the mozdev.org site (Mozdev Community Organization). For more information on activities funded under this grant (and a subsequent follow-up grant earlier in 2007) see Doug Warner’s blog.
- Mozilla-related educational activities (Seneca College). For more information on activities funded under this grant, see David Humphrey’s blog.
The next category covers software development and related activities, mostly through contracts with individuals; however note that some of this funding went to nonprofit organizations, and because of the way the paperwork was handled the funding got lumped into this category:
- Mozilla accessibility on Mac OS X (Håkan Wara). This project addressed accessibility of Firefox and other Mozilla-based products on OS X; for more information see the Mac accessibility page on the Mozilla Developer Center site.
- AJAX test cases for WAI ARIA (Charles Chen). This project addressed the need for ways to test implementations in Firefox and other products of the WAI ARIA specification for accessibility
of dynamic web applications; for more information see Charles Chen’s accessible AJAX page.
- XForms accessibility (Alexander Surkov). This project addressed accessibility for the Mozilla XForms extension; for more information see the XForms accessibility page on MDC.
- Optimizing Firefox for pointer and switch access (Steve Lee). This project addressed accessibility for people with physical dexterity or mobility problems (as opposed to much accessibility work, which relates to blind users); for more information see the Jambu project page.
- ChatZilla accessibility (Gijs Kruitbosch). Chat and IM clients pose some unique challenges to making them accessible, and doing so is important to enabling people with disabilities to more fully participate in Mozilla and other open source projects. For more information on this project see the ChatZilla accessibility meta bug.
- HTML5 conformance checker prototype (Henri Sivonen). This project addressed the need to have conformance checkers (also known as “validators”) for HTML5 and related specifications, to match the traditional HTML4 validators provided by the W3C and others; for more information see Henri Sivonen’s master’s thesis, as well as the current version of his conformance
- DOM Inspector UI enhancements (Michael Gall). This was originally a proposed Summer of Code project, but we ran out of slots and decided to fund it directly. For more information see Michael Gall’s blog post on his DOM Inspector release.
- XUL accessibility guidelines and tool (WebAIM, an initiative of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University). For more information see WebAIM’s XUL accessibility page. (Note that the date on that page is incorrect; the work in question was done in 2006, not 2005.)
- Thunderbird accessibility (Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto). This project addressed various accessibility problems with Thunderbird; for more information see the Thunderbird accessibility tracking bug assigned to David Bolter of ATRC.
- Support of the OpenBSD and OpenSSH projects (OpenBSD). This was in response to OpenBSD’s financial difficulties; for more information see the associated OpenBSD Journal article.
- IETF representative (Open Source Applications Foundation). This helped OSAF and others support a representative to the IETF.
- Mozilla Digital Memory Bank (Center for History and New Media at George Mason University). This project aimed to provide oral, written, and other history for the Mozilla project; for more information see the Mozilla Digital Memory Bank site.
The final category comprises conferences and other events for which the Mozilla Foundation either provided sponsorship or paid travel and related costs for Mozilla contributors, or both:
- Fosdem 2006. We sponsored a meeting of Mozilla localization teams at this conference in Brussells in February 2006; for more information see the Fosdem 2006 aftermath page.
- CSUN 2006. We had a Mozilla booth at this major accessibility conference in Los Angeles in March 2006, and sponsored a number of attendees; for more information see my CSUN 2006 conference report.
- XTech 2006. We sponsored a number of attendees to this conference in Amsterdam in May 2006.
- W4A workshop. We sponsored some attendees to this accessibility workshop in Edinburgh in May 2006. Later in 2006 we became an official sponsor of the 2007 W4A meeting.
- Second California Web Accessibility Conference. We were one of the official sponsors of the CalWAC2 conference in Long Beach in September 2006.
- Mozilla accessibility summit 2006. We sponsored this meeting of Mozilla accessibility developers in Boston in October 2006.
Mozilla Foundation projects in 2007 and beyond
Once 2007 concludes I’ll produce a similar report to this for Mozilla Foundation grants and related expenditures this year. (I’ve already mentioned several of these in my weekly status reports.) However in general we’ve continued the trends started in 2006, including an emphasis on funding accessibility-related projects. It’s too early to tell how much we’ll spend in total, but I suspect we’ll easily double the amount spent in 2006. As we move into 2008 we’ll also be funding projects in more areas.
In general I think my initial thoughts from last year still apply: The Mozilla Foundation’s role (at least at present) is best thought of as providing “seed funding” for Mozilla and Mozilla-related projects and activities that are both important for the future and not being addressed fully by the Mozilla Corporation or others. Continuing the analogy, our “exit strategy” is to have those activities (or at least some aspects of them) be picked up by other organizations willing to contribute their own funding. (See, for example, the hiring of Tim Keenan by the Mozilla Corporation to supervise accessibility-related QA and testing, and the hiring of Charles Chen to do accessibility work at Google.)
The other constant is the importance of having people who can help us put together a funding program in particular areas, as Aaron Leventhal has done for Mozilla accessibility. To repeat what I wrote last year:
We’re looking for more people like Aaron to whom we can successfully delegate responsibility for suggesting and overseeing grants in their area(s) of expertise. If you’re one of those people I’m interested in hearing from you.