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FSF is seen as a guiding light: help us shine brighter

by Georgia Young Contributions Published on Nov 23, 2015 12:39 PM

Autumn has arrived here in Boston, and as the leaves change, the FSF has, too. There are several new faces on staff, and a few people have shifted roles. We celebrated our thirtieth anniversary, but there's no time to rest on our laurels -- we're looking ahead to the free software community's future actions and achievements.

What keeps us going, you might wonder. Of course, our vision of a world where all software is free is paramount to the work we do. But the twelve of us who make up the FSF staff rely on you. You give your time: translating FSF materials into multiple languages, coming to the FSF office to help with our semi-annual Bulletin mailing, contributing to the Free Software Directory, assisting with every aspect of the annual LibrePlanet conference, representing us at the FSF booth at conferences around the world, even pointing out bugs on our Web sites. Your passion and dedication to the cause extends our reach and helps our small staff make the most of the work we do.

And yes, your financial support is crucial to our work, too. We have about 3,400 members, each of whom has agreed to put their money where their mouth is, on a monthly or annual basis. Memberships account for nearly half of our funds each year, and in the last year, more than 80 percent of our funding came from individuals, both members and non-member donors. That's a staggering amount of support from people like you, and clear proof that the FSF simply could not exist without you.

Raising money takes work. At present, the FSF does not have a staff position dedicated exclusively to fundraising. The campaigns team -- Zak, Georgia, and Stephen -- oversee much of our fundraising work, but everybody on staff helps out, by encouraging free software enthusiasts to become members, helping with the Bulletin mailing, and most of all, by simply working hard to fulfill the mission of the FSF, which is why you give in the first place.

We at the FSF have been thinking about our strengths and identifying places where we can be more effective. We know that the FSF is seen as a guiding light for the free software community, and that we achieve that by listening to your ideas and your needs, and gratefully accepting the time you give and your participation in opportunities for activism, along with your generous financial contributions. Perhaps our biggest strength is that when it comes to free software, we don't just talk the talk, we walk the walk: all of our work is done using free software. It's important to us to show that it can be done: a nonprofit with an international scope can do its work without proprietary software. One way we can expand the reach of free software is by inspiring other nonprofits to follow our example. Do you know a nonprofit that would benefit from using free software for their work?

For me, the next big thing on the horizon is our LibrePlanet conference on March 19-20, 2016, in the Boston area. By the time you read this, we will be reviewing responses to our call for sessions. The theme of this year's conference is "Fork the System." We'll look at how free software creates the opportunity of a new path for its users and their communities, allows developers to fight the restrictions of a system dominated by proprietary software by creating free replacements, and is the foundation of the philosophy of freedom, sharing, and change that we all love so well. Most likely, if you received this newsletter in the mail, you're an FSF member already -- and members get gratis admission to LibrePlanet. Registration is open now. If you're not yet a member, consider joining now -- you'll get to take advantage of this great benefit, and you'll help make the FSF's light burn brighter.

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