NEP 46 — NumPy sponsorship guidelines

Author

Ralf Gommers <ralf.gommers@gmail.com>

Status

Accepted

Type

Process

Created

2020-12-27

Resolution

https://mail.python.org/pipermail/numpy-discussion/2021-January/081424.html

Abstract

This NEP provides guidelines on how the NumPy project will acknowledge financial and in-kind support.

Motivation and Scope

In the past few years, the NumPy project has gotten significant financial support, as well as dedicated work time for maintainers to work on NumPy. There is a need to acknowledge that support - it’s the right thing to do, it’s helpful when looking for new funding, and funders and organizations expect or require it, Furthermore, having a clear policy for how NumPy acknowledges support is helpful when searching for new support. Finally, this policy may help set reasonable expectations for potential funders.

This NEP is aimed at both the NumPy community - who can use it as a guideline when looking for support on behalf of the project and when acknowledging existing support - and at past, current and prospective sponsors, who often want or need to know what they get in return for their support other than a healthier NumPy.

The scope of this proposal includes:

  • direct financial support, employers providing paid time for NumPy maintainers and regular contributors, and in-kind support such as free hardware resources or services,

  • where and how NumPy acknowledges support (e.g., logo placement on the website),

  • the amount and duration of support which leads to acknowledgement, and

  • who in the NumPy project is responsible for sponsorship related topics, and how to contact them.

How NumPy will acknowledge support

There will be two different ways to acknowledge financial and in-kind support: one to recognize significant active support, and another one to recognize support received in the past and smaller amounts of support.

Entities who fall under “significant active supporter” we’ll call Sponsor. The minimum level of support given to NumPy to be considered a Sponsor are:

  • $30,000/yr for unrestricted financial contributions (e.g., donations)

  • $60,000/yr for financial contributions for a particular purpose (e.g., grants)

  • $100,000/yr for in-kind contributions (e.g., time for employees to contribute)

We define support being active as:

  • for a one-off donation: it was received within the previous 12 months,

  • for recurring or financial or in-kind contributions: they should be ongoing.

After support moves from “active” to “inactive” status, the acknowledgement will be left in its place for at least another 6 months. If appropriate, the funding team can discuss opportunities for renewal with the sponsor. After those 6 months, acknowledgement may be moved to the historical overview. The exact timing of this move is at the discretion of the funding team, because there may be reasons to keep it in the more prominent place for longer.

The rationale for the above funding levels is that unrestricted financial contributions are typically the most valuable for the project, and the hardest to obtain. The opposite is true for in-kind contributions. The dollar value of the levels also reflect that NumPy’s needs have grown to the point where we need multiple paid developers in order to effectively support our user base and continue to move the project forward. Financial support at or above these levels is needed to be able to make a significant difference.

Sponsors will get acknowledged through:

  • a small logo displayed on the front page of the NumPy website

  • prominent logo placement on https://numpy.org/about/

  • logos displayed in talks about NumPy by maintainers

  • announcements of the sponsorship on the NumPy mailing list and the numpy-team Twitter account

In addition to Sponsors, we already have the concept of Institutional Partner (defined in NumPy’s governance document), for entities who employ a NumPy maintainer and let them work on NumPy as part of their official duties. The governance document doesn’t currently define a minimum amount of paid maintainer time needed to be considered for partnership. Therefore we propose that level here, roughly in line with the sponsorship levels:

  • 6 person-months/yr of paid work time for one or more NumPy maintainers or regular contributors to any NumPy team or activity

Institutional Partners get the same benefits as Sponsors, in addition to what is specified in the NumPy governance document.

Finally, a new page on the website (https://numpy.org/funding/, linked from the About page) will be added to acknowledge all current and previous sponsors, partners, and any other entities and individuals who provided $5,000 or more of financial or in-kind support. This page will include relevant details of support (dates, amounts, names, and purpose); no logos will be used on this page. The rationale for the $5,000 minimum level is to keep the amount of work maintaining the page reasonable; the level is the equivalent of, e.g., one GSoC or a person-week’s worth of engineering time in a Western country, which seems like a reasonable lower limit.

Implementation

The following content changes need to be made:

  • Add a section with small logos towards the bottom of the numpy.org website.

  • Create a full list of historical and current support and deploy it to https://numpy.org/funding.

  • Update the NumPy governance document for changes to Institutional Partner eligibility requirements and benefits.

  • Update https://numpy.org/about with details on how to get in touch with the NumPy project about sponsorship related matters (see next section).

NumPy Funding Team

At the moment NumPy has only one official body, the Steering Council, and no good way to get in touch with either that body or any person or group responsible for funding and sponsorship related matters. The way this is typically done now is to somehow find the personal email of a maintainer, and email them in private. There is a need to organize this more transparently - a potential sponsor isn’t likely to inquire through the mailing list, nor is it easy for a potential sponsor to know if they’re reaching out to the right person in private.

https://numpy.org/about/ already says that NumPy has a “funding and grants” team. However that is not the case. We propose to organize this team, name team members on it, and add the names of those team members plus a dedicated email address for the team to the About page.

Status before this proposal

Acknowledgement of support

At the time of writing (Dec 2020), the logos of the four largest financial sponsors and two institutional partners are displayed on https://numpy.org/about/. The Nature paper about NumPy mentions some early funding. No comprehensive list of received funding and in-kind support is published anywhere.

Decisions on which logos to list on the website have been made mostly by the website team. Decisions on which entities to recognize as Institutional Partner have been made by the NumPy Steering Council.

NumPy governance, decision-making, and financial oversight

This section is meant as context for the reader, to help put the rest of this NEP in perspective, and perhaps answer questions the reader has when reading this as a potential sponsor.

NumPy has a formal governance structure defined in this governance document). Decisions are made by consensus among all active participants in a discussion (typically on the mailing list), and if consensus cannot be reached then the Steering Council takes the decision (also by consensus).

NumPy is a sponsored project of NumFOCUS, a US-based 501(c)3 nonprofit. NumFOCUS administers NumPy funds, and ensures they are spent in accordance with its mission and nonprofit status. In practice, NumPy has a NumFOCUS subcommittee (with its members named in the NumPy governance document) who can authorize financial transactions. Those transactions, for example paying a contractor for a particular activity or deliverable, are decided on by the NumPy Steering Council.

Alternatives

Tiered sponsorship levels. We considered using tiered sponsorship levels, and rejected this alternative because it would be more complex, and not necessarily communicate the right intent - the minimum levels are for us to determine how to acknowledge support that we receive, not a commercial value proposition. Entities typically will support NumPy because they rely on the project or want to help advance it, and not to get brand awareness through logo placement.

Listing all donations. Note that in the past we have received many smaller donations, mostly from individuals through NumFOCUS. It would be great to list all of those contributions, but given the way we receive information on those donations right now, that would be quite labor-intensive. If we manage to move to a more suitable platform, such as Open Collective, in the future, we should reconsider listing all individual donations.

Discussion

References and Footnotes