Hello OTS Community,
I want to open a sensitive subject today: Paying for Events. I know this isn’t an easy subject within the OpenTechSchool Family, but please bear with me and assume I have the best at my heart, when I bring this up.
Already back in March, during the Community Call 15.3, some of us were discussing whether or not the OpenTechSchool can cost money or not – heck, for many this is a topic since they joined the movement. Today I’d like to open its discussion and include the wider audience, not based on an ideological stand-point (“Things should never cost anything”), but from a pragmatical stand point: money as a tool in our toolbelt, to be used to full fill the goal our values of tech education defined.
Because we have a few problems. And though this runs deeper and might be allowed to be a discussion way beyond this specifics, I want to postpone that discussion for a different day and focus on the issues we have at events. I can – out of the top of my head – come up with the following:
- often times, people on the waiting list, but no more seats available
- while still having no-show-rates of up 60% (for e.g. in San Francisco or Berlin, where commitment to this isn’t really high)
- First-come-first-serve through meetup announcements isn’t anything but fair, or accessible for that matter
- space isn’t always free: we’ve been lucky so far, most places we found some community or company hosting us. But that comes with a price: for once, time that people spend searching for a place (other than spending say, 200Eur to book a big room in a restaurant for an afternoon), secondly we limit, where OTS can be run to those places – mostly urban tech hubs.
- limited reach because advertising through established channels only – we had exactly 0 people with a Turkish-heritage join us in Berlin so far, although the majority of people in the area we are hosting most of our events are from Turkish-Heritage…
- limited attractiveness for participants, compared to other events (ask anyone about BoroughJS or what people expect at a meetup in Nigeria)
- and if anyone is serving coffee or cookies, it is out of the budget of the coaches – who are already volunteering their time and now also their money.
- limited reputation with participants, but also companies: I mean why would you sponsor such an unprofessional event, that doesn’t even do posters?
What has money to do with that? Well, a lot. For once, if there was some form of budget, we could tackle the points 4 to 8 easily:
- We could print and post poster, we could offer coffee.
- We could start paying for space and food, maybe even have people take care of it, and let the coaches focus on coaching.
- We could give it a more professional look and feel, by giving “officials” and coaches T-Shirts and badges to wear.
- We could also, just in general, express the OTS identity more, give gimmicks and smaller signs of appreciation to coaches and organisers for their hard work. Give more people a good reason to stick around.
These are just my thoughts on it. I’ve already written a lot to read, and I didn’t even mention the potential usage to support minority groups or as protections fees to lower drop-out-rates, but I gladly come back to those, if we reach a point in the discussion where that makes sense.
I know that especially the OpenTechSchool in Berlin is very keen of the “community” feel of the events. And I by no means want to destroy that. As usual I’d like every team decide on their own, how they want to handle this. And though I’d push for a little more gimmicks and professionalism for events in Berlin, too (personally), I want to have the more general discussion to officially allow paying for events as a tool in the OpenTechSchool toolbelt.
Please, give your opinion here!