"I'm Getting Tired of Your Begathons Get A Job."
Normally, I would have blown it off but I suspect it came from someone in a Google Plus Linux Community in which I am a member.
I could be wrong. There's a strong chance that I am. It's just that some of the comments to my initial posting have a strong resemblance to the same tone of this email.
Here's some background to catch you up on how this came about. For those that know our history chapter and verse, you can skip down 10 paragraph breaks...picking it up again under the next picture.
In 2005. I created an organization that gathers broken or decommissioned computers to repair and place into the homes of disadvantaged kids. To date, we've placed 1602 computers into the homes of kids that could not afford one. We've created 9 Linux Learning Centers in and around Austin and maintain them all.
I ran the majority of this effort out of my own pocket, primarily from a injury settlement received that same year. A non disclosure agreement with the insurance company dictates I cannot divulge the amount of the settlement.
Pick any number between 65K and 100K. The odds are, that will be fairly close.
That money lasted until late 2009. Since then, The Linux and open source communities have funded the Lion's share of our work. Every computer we place is done so by the will and power of the global Linux community.
Because Linux powers those computers. Every one of them.
I've been away from our project for over a year. Radiation and chemo therapy
Having been off work that long, many things did not get done, and that includes the fund raising an Executive Director needs to do.
So in response to our need for funding, I created an Indiegogo.com fund raising campaign and in doing so, we are attempting to raise this year's operating costs. Our organizational needs do not match the criteria for a kickstarter campaign so we went with Indiegogo.com. Of course I attempted to spread the word on as many Linux-friendly sites as I could.
Apparently my low-key posts struck a nerve in some. The main portion of this person's email rant is here:
"Every time I turn around, you have your hand out for $$$. Why don't you get a (expletive deleted) job and spend some of that money to run your so called "Non Profet" and leave everybody alone. Maybe get a tin cup some torn jeans a army jacket and stand on a street corner with a sign and a dog. Just make sure that your sign says god bless somewhere. Dont forget mention several times that you are a vetran. I'm sure you will get some sympethy. No body cares about your stupid cause".
First off, anyone questioning the legitimacy of our "Non Profet" can check against the IRS database with our EIN: 26-0520581. Both Indiegogo.com, Ebay and PayPal have verified our 501(c)(3) status.
And secondly, I did spend my money to run my "So called Non Profet". A lot of money.
The third thing...I'm not going to even bother to respond.
With 11 days gone out of the 45 days we chose to run the campaign, less than 1200 dollars has been donated. We were hoping to have reached at least 20 percent of our goal amount by now. Today it stands at 4%.
I look at astoundingly successful fund raisers currently happening for things like games being ported to Linux and I have to ask myself. What am I doing wrong? What are we doing wrong? Am I over-valuing our function and goals? Am I inflating the value of what we accomplish?
This email gave me pause. Does everyone else feel the same way, except they are too polite to say so?
Maybe I picked a bad time to ask for money. People are on vacation or saving money to go on vacation.....
Or people are just donation-tired with Reglue and can't be bothered any more.
And that G+ Linux community I mentioned? A good friend of mine spends a lot of his time volunteering with Dentists Without Borders and he was in town for a short time before he left for overseas again. He made a point that did give me hope. I just don't know how to make it happen.
He observed that if just 20% of that G+ Linux community donated only 2 dollars to Reglue, we could reach our goal and go about our business. Truth be told, I don't feel comfortable going back in there at this time. The last thing I want to be labeled is a spammer.
Asking for a 2 dollar donation.
Maybe if Reglue created a video game, our financial problems would be over.
We do have some unique and solid income resources available to us in just over a year, but between now and then...we're going to need some help.
Most often, regular donations come in from the same people over and over and over. I know for a fact some of those donors are in the middle of expensive moves or have other important things to do with their money. Some are two income families with one member not able to work at the moment. Truth be known...if we never got another donation from these people, that would be just fine. They have went way past "their fair share" in both money and computers.
I would as soon not hear from these folks, at least from a donation standpoint. Some of us have become good friends over the years. They've carried us for a long time. They shouldn't have to do so any more.
But gaining new donors is becoming harder to do. Grants were supposed to be a big help to us but the type of grant we need...the grants that allow us to spend money for day to day operations...they are almost dried up. Most grantors have super-strict guidelines for what their money can and cannot be spent on. Day to day operations belongs to the latter.
So what now?
We are attempting to engage the small community in which we operate to help us as well. We have a "donation door" at Walmart in a month where we can set up a table and solicit donations there. We are also attempting to sell excess computer systems for bargain basement prices to fund our work. This area of my county is still suffering double digit unemployment. We aren't optimistic about this local effort.
email me via this link. I can provide shipping information.
But all of that is incidental compared to the support we've received from Open Source and Linux Community.
If in fact, we have worn out our welcome within the various Linux ranks, I will need to start getting comfortable with the fact that all good things come to an end at one point or another.
Is it simply time to move on and do other things? Maybe so.
We've had a heck of a run for the past 8 years and nothing can undo the good things we've done. I could go to work tomorrow for 12 bucks an hour as a Junior Systems Administrator at HostGator. To be more honest than I should be...that's a lot more than I make running Reglue.
I'm not sure what the future holds. Either way, we'll act on the reality of the situation in 90 days or so. Regardless of which way it goes.