Planning and Fundraising Update, September 2023

Dan Langille ran BSDCan for nineteen years, building it into one of the keystones of the BSD community. This was a stunning feat of service. Dan has chosen to step down, handing the responsibility over to a group of volunteers.

The operations team meets monthly. We have a decent grasp on the mechanicals of running an event and have divided up responsibilities. Adam has opened negotiations with the university. Colin and Allan are working out the details of opening a Canadian business to handle money. (Our gut reaction is this should be a non-profit, but that’s a matter to discuss with accountants. Both Colin and Allan run Canadian businesses, so we’re leaving it to them.) Lucas is busily deflecting all actual work onto other people.

The critical issue today is money. (Canadian dollars, because Canada.) BSDCan isn’t quite broke. The 2023 event, with its dearth of sponsors, mostly drained our resources. Don’t get me wrong, we love the sponsors who showed up for us! But we needed more. We have a few thousand bucks for seed money, and that’s it.

BSDCan needs enough money to pay for:

  • Rooms for tutorials, presentations, and the evening hacker lounge
  • Lunches
  • Travel for speakers
  • Accommodations for speakers, including the nights before and after the con
  • T-shirts
  • Swag bags
  • Video recording and streaming

We would like enough money to pay for:

  • The Saturday night party

How much money does BSDCan need?

About $80,000. We might get away with less, but prices are going up so it might be more.

How are we going to get it?

First, admission has remained $195 for many years even though supplier prices have increased. We want to raise it to $250. We had 130 paying attendees in 2023, which was pretty good for the first in-person event in four years. 150 attendees would bring in $37,500. That leaves us over $40,000 short.

Second: when we have a Canadian business organization and bank account, we’ll have a donate button. That’ll certainly help.

We’ve set a goal of raising $50,000 from sponsors. That should let us tolerate random price increases from airlines and the University of Ottawa. I requested that any extra go towards paying down my gelato bill, but the committee is insistent that excess funds be retained for improving BSDCan. We must also build a cushion for future years.

Michael Dexter ( ) is our sponsorship coordinator, partly because he’s good at those things but mainly because he’s the only one of us who owns a suit. He looked at the issue and said, “The real problem is that BSD geeks are actively terrible at raising money. We should explore ways to reduce the stress of funding all of the BSD events.” You can find his initial efforts at while we work out the BSDCan infrastructure.

BSDCan’s sponsorship options accreted over the decades. If you wanted to sponsor T-shirts, Dan would make up a “T-Shirt Sponsor” category and take your check with a smile. Some of those options don’t make as much sense today. Other options have not increased in price since the naughties. Dexter went through them, boiled them down, and built a rationalized table of sponsorship options. He’s starting to knock on doors right now. The front page of this site has a funding thermometer to track his progress.

Without sponsors, BSDCan doesn’t happen. We could raise admission to $600 and cover everything directly from your pockets, but that’s a dramatic and hideous change. BSD software runs some of the biggest industries in the world, and we anticipate that a handful of them are still willing to give back. If that describes your organization, please check out the sponsorship options. Dexter would love to hear from you.

Twenty years of BSDCan has made the event something of a sacred trust. Everyone is working together to continue it into the future. That starts with money.

Bringing BSD Together

Running BSDCan consumed Dan’s bandwidth, leaving him with zero interest in publishing financial reports. That left space for confusion. Let me categorically state: BSDCan does not pay for project devsummits flanking the con.

The FreeBSD Foundation is traditionally a conference sponsor. The FF also pays for the FreeBSD devsummit. They also have a separate program to sponsor travel for folks who want to attend. Yes, they leverage BSDCan paying for speaker flights. They should. Other projects should do the same.

BSDCan’s motto is bringing BSD together. Having an operations team rather than a Single Point of Dan will make that easier. We would happily reserve space for related projects such as bhyvecon or NetBSD or whoever, and give such projects a couple minutes at the closing to say how things are going. Video coordinator Patrick McEvoy has volunteered to stream such events, provided that they happen right next to the main con and he has enough cameras and staff. We will be asking all such devsummits to pay room fees in advance. Total expenses wobble with the number of lunches needed, so we’ll also have to settle up afterwards.

If you want to hold such a meeting, watch this space. We’ll figure out a process soon.

One day I’d like to see several related groups meeting for a couple days before BSDCan and all gathering for lunch. If I let my imagination soar, some of those lunches would not involve sandwiches.

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