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Webform module’s Open Collective: Rethinking and adjusting backer and sponsorship tiers

· Drupal,Webform,Open Collective,Sustainability

If you have been following my blog, you know that my current work situation has made my free contribution of maintaining the Webform module for the Drupal community no longer sustainable. I want to start using the Webform module's Open Collective funds to compensate me for my time and encourage organizations to hire me to assist with their Webform-related projects and even proposals. On the Webform module's project page, issue queue, and in the module's UI, I am encouraging people to get involved, fund development, or hire me. All funding is going to be handled transparently via the Webform module's Open Collective.

Like many Open Collective projects, I am going to track my monthly work and expense it. After a few months of invoices and ticket tracking, I should be able to surmise how many hours it takes to resolve most issues and requests in the Webform module's issues queue. Knowing exactly how collected funds are spent hopefully will encourage people and organizations to continue backing the collective, and inspire new people and organizations to become backers. Because there is already a diverse group of backers of the Webform module's Open Collective, it is essential to have the backer and sponsorship tiers reflect the community and opportunities for anyone supporting the Webform module.

Who is backing the Webform module's Open Collective?

Before I go any further, I want to thank the 100+ backers of the Webform module's Open Collective.

Looking at the current backers, I see individuals, small Drupal shops, and a few large Drupal agencies and providers.

Individuals make up most backers either making a one-time donation or a small monthly $5 contribution. Drupal is built and maintained by individuals, and making it easy for individuals to contribute something can collectively make a difference. I think the $5 tier has proven to be a good starting point for individuals. I personally back SimplyTest.me, and the Drupal Recording Initiative for this amount.

Small shops sit right in the middle, contributing $10 to $50 per month, with large agencies contributing $100 per month. Keeping in mind that the Webform module's initial tiers were $5, $10, and $100, it is worth re-evaluating these tiers. I want to look at what tiers are being set up by other successful Open Collectives. I also want to note what other open source and proprietary form builders as charging for their products.

What are other form building products charging?

Most comparable form builders are SaaS-based services that charge a monthly fee or open source software that charge for a support license.

WordPress has a vast selection of paid form builder plugins. Two of the most prominent form builders in the WordPress community are GravityForm and NinjaForm. Both form builders charge between $50-$60 for an individual annual license and $250 for an unlimited agency-level annual license. Even though a user still has to pay for hosting, these fees seem reasonable compared to the SaaS form builder markets monthly fees.

The more prominent SaaS form builders are JotForm and SurveyMonkey, and Wufoo (owned by SurveyMonkey). JotForm charges a monthly fee from $24 to $79 ($288 to $948 annually). SurveyMonkey's monthly payment is from $25 to $75. ($300 to $900 annually). Wufoo's costs also range from $14 to $74 monthly ($168 to $888 annually).

Comparing a SaaS form builder to a completely open source form builder is not a fair comparison. Here’s why: all the SaaS form builders provide better analytics with online support, but none of the SaaS products can be easily customized. Also, the SaaS solution's costs go up as an organization's requirement, size, and usage increase. Still, there’s enough to compare that there is a takeaway, which is this: SaaS providers are charging around 3x more than the WordPress form builder plugins. The range of annual costs for a form builder that individuals to organizations are willing to pay is $60 to $1000.

What are successful tiers for other Open Collectives?

Before we start looking at other Open Collectives, it’s important to note that even though the Webform is competing against a massive market of paid form builders, the Webform module is part of Drupal's ecosystem. As a community, we do not charge for modules, which I agree with, but I am for paid contributors. There are not many Open Collectives that fall into this category; still, there is something to be learned from other successful Open Collectives.

Open Collective supports 100's of open source projects, and I was immediately drawn to two projects that I have used, Jekyll and Storybook. Both project's Open Collective have backer and sponsor tiers that target individuals and organizations. Each project has at least one sponsor contributing a significant amount of funds. In the case for Jekyll it is Siteleaf, and for Storybook it is Airbnb. The subtle takeaway from these projects is that both projects use the out-the-box tiers, and in both instances, there are organizations that are willing to pay more.

If we look at some of the more successful Open Collective, including Babel, VueJS, and Open Broadcaster Software, what stands out is the fact these collectives offer sponsorship tiers that are in the $10,000+ annual range. With these high-level sponsorships, the project displays the organization's logo on the project's landing page. There is also a pattern where the high-level sponsors are influential organizations, including Airbnb, Facebook, and SalesForce. These organizations are backing projects critical to the organization's success. It is also imperative to note that all the projects we are talking about are larger than the Webform module but not necessarily more significant than the entire Drupal project. The Webform module is one of Drupal's top ten modules.

How to encourage sponsoring organizations?

My takeaway is that specific organizations can and may be open to a high level of sponsorship for a project that benefits their organizations. This information is worth looking and thinking about closely, especially regarding the fact that the Drupal Association's supporting partner program's equal sponsorship opportunities mid-tier is around $7500 annually.

One of the most common benefits of sponsoring an Open Collective and the Drupal Association is recognition - displaying a sponsor's logo in high-profile spots, including the homepage and presentations being an undeniable benefit and visible boost for any brand.

Defining tiers and benefits for the Webform module's Open Collective backers and sponsors.

After reviewing my review, I see the three primary tiers: individuals, organizations, and sponsors.

The individual tier targets site builders and developers who use and appreciate the Webform module, possibly in their day job and enjoy the support I provide around the Webform module.

The organization tier targets small to medium organizations using the Webform module on their website or within their organization.

The sponsor tier targets large organizations and Drupal providers using the Webform module on multiple projects or websites. A sponsor either relies on the Webform module as a key part of their Drupal platform, or is aware that the Webform module is crucial for the Drupal community and their business.

Within each of these tiers, I want to include a low and high recommended dollar amount. Along with the tiers, there should always be the option for anyone to make a one-time donation.

Below are some descriptions and respective calls-to-action that will be displayed on the Webform module's Open Collective contribute section.

Individual Backer
You appreciate and value the Webform module while building out your website or use it daily at your job. Please consider becoming an Individual Backer for $5 or $10 a month.
 

Organization Sustaining Backer
Your organization wants to help sustain the Webform module and ensure it is maintained, stable, and secure. Please become an Organization Sustaining Backer for $50 a month.


Organization Growth Backer
Your organization desires to see the Webform module grow with new features, better documentation, and videos. Please become an Organization Growth Backer for $100 a month.


Supporting Sponsor
Your company feels that the Webform module is a vital part of your website or business. Please become a Supporting Sponsor for $250 a month.


Impact Sponsor
Your company would like to stand out as a leader and supporter of the Drupal community. Become a sponsor for $1000 a month. The Webform module's Open Collective's first sponsor will help decide how we promote your impactful support within the Drupal community. Please become an Impact Sponsor for $1000 a month.


Make a Donation / Every Little Bit Helps Sponsor
You can’t commit to anything just yet but you’d like to make a donation. Make a one-time big or small donation to the Webform module's Open Collective. Your support can help fix a minor bug, resolve a critical issue, or tag the next stable release of the Webform module. Please become an Every Little Bit Helps Sponsor. 

Am I asking for too much from the Drupal community?

I know asking for $1000 a month from one organization is a big ask. At the same time, it would be a game-changer for the sustainability of the Webform module. If someone is willing to make this commitment, I’m eager to work with you to ensure that you are recognized and benefit from your impact on the Webform module and Drupal community. If you are interested in becoming an Impact Sponsor, contact me.

Am I asking too much or too little from the Drupal community? Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome.

Finally, a special shout out to Karin Gerritsen (http://www.semper-it.com), who backs the Webform module's Open Collective and nudged me to rethink the sponsorship tiers.

The "Street art superman" image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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