Why You Should Join: Part 2 - Join as a Corporate Sponsor

by Jon Galloway

We recently announced some big changes to the .NET Foundation: Open Membership and a new Corporate Sponsor program. We've talked a bit about the Open Membership changes, but haven't said a whole lot about the Corporate Sponsor program other than welcoming Pivotal, Progress Telerik and Insight as launch partners. Let's dig into some specifics: what's changing, why, and why your company should consider getting involved.

This post is the second in a series:

What is the .NET Foundation?

Let's start with the basics since they help explain why we see broad corporate sponsorship as an important part of evolving the foundation: The .NET Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization, created in 2014 to foster open development and collaboration around the growing collection of open source technologies for .NET. It serves as a forum for commercial and community developers alike to strengthen the future of the .NET ecosystem by promoting openness, community participation, and rapid innovation.

What we announced

The .NET Foundation is changing to an open membership model. This includes the following:

  1. Any contributor to .NET is eligible to become a member.
  2. All members can participate in annual board member elections. Members can both run for election for the Board of Directors and vote in the annual elections.
  3. We're expanding our current Technical Steering Group to a Corporate Sponsor Program.

We're inviting the .NET community to take an active role in guiding and supporting the .NET Foundation, and that includes both individual open source developers and businesses that depend on .NET open source. We think it's really important to involve corporate sponsors as a key part of this change for three reasons.

First, for the .NET Foundation to really be independent and community run, it needs to be independently funded. In the past, we've depended on (greatly appreciated!) donations from Microsoft. Going forward, we'll be funded by Corporate Sponsorships and Member Dues. Microsoft's donation as a Corporate Sponsor will now be a relatively small percentage of our funding.

Secondly, Corporate Sponsorship really expands what the .NET Foundation can do – not just by having a bigger budget, but by being able to make long term plans based on annual dues payments.

Third, Corporate Sponsorship will directly involve the .NET corporate world in the .NET open source ecosystem, which is important! We'll have input from companies that depend on .NET open source, we'll be able to tackle some hard problems like how companies can be involved in sustainable community run open source projects.

Why should you join as a Corporate Sponsor?

So far we've talked about why we want companies to join. Now let's explore why a company would want to join: what's in it for you?

  1. First and foremost, because open source .NET is important to your business; a healthy open source .NET community helps you. Sponsoring the .NET Foundation is your best opportunity to ensure that the worldwide .NET open source developer base grows to their full potential.
  2. Corporate sponsors get a seat on the Advisory Council. We understand that a healthy .NET open source ecosystem includes input from everyone, and that definitely includes businesses who depend on .NET.
  3. Annual invitation-only summit for corporate sponsors.
  4. Co-marketing: e.g. we'll show your logo in our keynotes, you can use our logo on your public material.
  5. Direct contact with the .NET team.

Why change the TSG to a Corporate Sponsor Program?

We recognize that many companies have significant business interests in the future growth and health of the .NET ecosystem, across a variety of business models - platforms, developer tools vendors, consultancies, as well as businesses in other verticals that depend on .NET to run their websites, line-of-business applications, infrastructure, etc. We've had repeated requests from businesses that don't directly fit into the TSG model to join the foundation and get involved. Creating a Corporate Sponsor Program with annual dues will allow the .NET Foundation to have much greater impact and make long-term investments in the .NET community.[JG1]

How will sponsor contributions be spent?

Historically, we have spent money on things like:

  • Technical support services for member projects (e.g. code signing certificates, build servers, cloud hosting, etc.)
  • Event sponsorship (.NET Conf and .NET Conf Local events, third party conference sponsorship, open source project hackathons)
  • Meetup (user group) sponsorship (we sponsor 250 Meetups in 50 countries around the world)

Going forward, the Board of Directors will decide how best to spend contributions. Our current Board of Directors and Advisory Council are really excited about the potential to expand what we've been doing, as well as to launch some new activities to serve as a catalyst for the .NET open source community, such as:

  • Speaker grants: Now that we've built out a global network of local Meetups, we can help them get great speakers. Meetups provide new developers with an easy way to learn, make contacts in their local community, and develop into leaders and speakers if they so choose. Speaker grants help both provide great content and support the Meetup speakers by providing them more opportunities to speak.
  • Event sponsorship: We've helped sponsor the annual .NET Conf virtual conference and contributed to some small local events, but corporate sponsorship could allow us to put on in-person events, event tours to Meetups, larger hackathon events, and more.
  • Outreach: With a shared goal of growing the .NET developer base, we have many options to pursue - education, non-traditional venues (e.g. Twitch and online streaming), global and diverse markets we've missed historically, etc.
  • Open Source Evangelism to the Corporate Developer: .NET has a huge developer base, but too few are actively engaged in contributing to .NET and the .NET open source libraries they rely on. We'd love to see a dedicated speaker tour focused on educating and connecting enterprise developers with open source. We could bring some top .NET open source project leaders to local and corporate Meetups and show them how to get involved, as well as how contributing to .NET open source benefits them and their companies.

Really, this is just a start - there is tremendous explosive potential in the huge, worldwide .NET developer base that sadly underutilized. We'd love to engage that, and we'd love for our corporate sponsors to both lead the charge and get the credit for it.

Sponsor levels and dues

After reviewing the various software foundation levels, we've decided to ask for pretty inexpensive dues:

  • Large Company (> $10M revenue per year): $50,000 annually
  • Medium company ($3M - $10M revenue per year): $25,000 annually
  • Small company (< $3M annually): $10,000 annually

Most important, you should see .NET Foundation sponsorship as something that benefits you in three clear ways: you help build the .NET open source ecosystem, you can have a direct impact on the future of .NET, and you can market your products and services to the .NET community.

If you're interested in learning more about the sponsorship program Got questions? Get in touch: contact@dotnetfoundation.org