Happy Holidays -- I hope many of you are getting a chance to relax after an incredibly difficult year for most people. However, take heart, I'm writing with good news. We're now entering the last couple of days for the Creative Commons annual fundraising campaign just $12,000 short of our $500,000 goal. In such a harsh fundraising climate, we're coming very close to reaching our goal thanks to the generous support of our community -- we need your help in getting all the way there.

My work this year has been primarily focused participating in Creative Commons as its new CEO, which has had its challenges and its reasons for hope this year.

Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization run mostly by volunteers all over the world. The board and the CEO role are volunteer jobs and in fact each board member is also a financial supporter. Even with the support of a network of volunteers, Creative Commons requires a small number of underpaid staff and some basic infrastructure to survive and continue its mission.

Creative Commons started as a primarily author and musician focused idea from the United States and has grown to a global 50 jurisdiction project in contact with 80 countries making impact in the sharing of scientific materials and data to helping teachers to share teaching material. We have forged alliances with rights collection societies and other organizations that have been, at times, critical of our work. We worked together with the dedicated team at the Free Software Foundation to permit the FSF licensed wikis (including Wikipedia) to relicense to a CC license. We have many more countries to bring online and many more fields to cover, but I am very proud of our work and extremely confident of our ability to become the basic infrastructure to "save failed sharing" as our Chairman Jamie Boyle puts it. I believe that we will soon be another basic layer of interoperability, similar to the World Wide Web or the Internet Protocol.

It has also been a tough year for Creative Commons. It has been particularly challenging for us as corporations and major donors have had to slash, if not completely cut, their philanthropic support. However, we have had more individual and smaller corporate donors than ever in our history. I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all of our current donors who decided to stick with us through this tough period and all the new donors who have chosen to give this year.

In addition, our project funding has become difficult in many areas and needs more support to survive and any funds past our annual campaign target will go to providing very needed resources. I apologize for continuing to pester you through the year and especially during this fundraising campaign, but your participation and contribution are extremely important for our future. I promise you that every yen, dollar and rupee is well spent on supporting and furthering the cause and I beg you (only if it helps) to consider making a donation if you have not done so this year.

Thank you in advance.

2 Comments

It is rather misleading to say that CC "requires a small number of underpaid staff." I checked your charter and your 2007 financial reports. CC spent over $1,200,000 on salaries and benefits in 2007, a number I could hardly describe as "small."
I am certain you could find $12,000 in cuts to this massive staff expense. For example, I noticed your charter assigns the duties of CFO to the Treasurer. But your 2007 Form 990 lists a Treasurer, Asst. Treasurer, and a CFO. Perhaps you could save the CFO's $98,725 salary and conform to your Charter by eliminating the CFO? Perhaps some overall budget cutting, even the miniscule 1% I suggested, would convince your donors that their money is not being wasted on overcompensated corporate officers.

Charles, I think you'll find that $1.2M is relatively small for any organization that coordinates legal work in 50 jurisdictions and contacts in 80. ICANN spends tens of millions and ITU spends hundreds of millions. Our staff are comparatively underpaid by market standards and are overworked. We have made some changes in the way we manage our finances and are now configured with a part-time CFO and staff allocations to support instead of a full-time CFO or treasurer. We believe this is the most cost efficient. I think that if you talk to any of our board member or our funders, you will find that we are running a tight ship.

The 990 is an important disclosure document, but it's difficult to reflect the structure and the workflow of the organization and I believe that our budget and operations are extremely efficient considering the amount of work that is being done.

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