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.

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):

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:

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:

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.

David M. Razler - 2009-06-07 19:04

Folks: Yes, I have a chip on my shoulder - specifically the death of the Penelope project after (as I recall, and said recollections are subject to error and I would appreciate correction of any errors in my memory) Qualcomm was making a grant to the Mozilla Foundation or a related 501(c)3, including code, licenses, employees (if they wished to move) and their salaries in order to save Eudora because the company could not support the program, but wished to see it developed. As we have seen, the program effectively died after one or two public releases, leaving out huge chunks of what made Eudora what it was - I’m not speaking of “look and feel”, but primary features like the Eudora sorting system, enabling to have each mailbox’s contents sorted into a hundred subcategories, and relay further messages if warranted by text. At this point, I would feel embarrassed asking for your past three 990s (the other five or six available from the IRS within a week or two)…I guess because in 25 years as a reporter, my biggest catches, and ‘a Pulitzer that got away’ because an editor spiked any thought of getting into an organization - The Boston Globe didn’t and walked away with one the next year) and I equate seeking a 990 with “looking for fraud” which I DO NOT HAVE ANY REASON to believe you committed. I’d rather just have a FRIENDLY conversation,(ABSOLUTELY not aimed at the kind of stuff I can no longer even do) - I wish I could do a positive piece on your manifesto, ability to “make money giving stuff away” that’s better than the commercial stuff, etc. building the kind of DoubleClick-free “cyberspace” (meant literally as Sterling meant it when he coined the phrase ’the place the phone call [or other communication] takes place.) that I hoped for, but, of course, will never exist. David M. Razler

hecker - 2009-06-08 14:00

Mr Razler: I’ve asked other people to follow up with you concerning the current state of the Penelope project. I’ll simply note that to my knowledge Qualcomm didn’t make any grants or transfers of money, employees, etc., to the Mozilla Foundation. Qualcomm simply decided to start an open source project using Mozilla code as the base, and we expressed support for it and let the project use some of our infrastructure (as we’ve done with other Mozilla-related projects).