With $2MM in additional funding, Knowledge Futures Group launches Membership program and Community Services
On February 2, 2022 the Knowledge Futures Group published an update on its plans to reach sustainability in the next 5 years, along with the launch of its Membership program and Community Services offerings. Here are a few relevant questions we’ve heard more than once, all answered in one place.
Knowledge Futures Group builds infrastructure for a more effective, equitable, and sustainable knowledge economy. Currently we have two primary open-source products: PubPub for publishing documents and Underlay for producing datasets. Our work empowers communities with tools to publish knowledge and collaborate with their community members.
That last sentence is critical. Because empowering our users is central to our mission, we operate as a nonprofit and as a direct response to commercialized knowledge infrastructure that is driving behavior and culture in undesirable, often exploitative ways. So, we believe that how we are funded is fundamental to our ability to realize our mission.
Sustainability to the KFG means primarily being supported by mission-oriented revenue streams, rather than being grant and gift-supported or relying on ancillary revenue streams. In the medium term, our goal is to align the organization with the POSI sustainability principles (as well as most of the rest of POSI). While we believe grants will always play a role in our funding model, we’re dedicated to aligning our success with our ability to ensure the success of those who use our products, making us more sustainable over the long term.
Thus far, KFG has been majority funded by the generous contributions of foundations. Recently, we received an additional two million dollars of funding from Reid Hoffman, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation this year. This financial support will allow us the runway to focus on KFG’s financial sustainability in 2022 and beyond.
KFG is governed by a 5-member board of directors currently drawn from a combination of organization founders and external stakeholders. As we grow over the next year, we are transitioning to an entirely independent board, in part by asking our members to help us source and give feedback on prospective board candidates. We also plan to establish a number of advisory councils from our membership to help provide feedback and oversight on both our product development and the evolution of the organization itself.
We believe anyone should be able to use our products, for free, without limitation. Our Memberships and Services enable us to provide support to communities looking to leverage this infrastructure more effectively and to connect with and learn from others who are doing so as well.
Membership is based on yearly contributions to KF in exchange for benefits like access to member programming and networking, support and strategy from the KFG staff, and discounts on Community Services. We will have three tiers allowing groups of all budgets to become members. You can learn more about those here.
Community Services are fee-for-service contracts with our Content team for production, training, and strategy support for groups who want help getting on-boarded and/or effectively publishing their work. This program is based on an existing services program that began organically out of our close collaborations with PubPub users and our team’s expertise. You can see our full Services menu here.
We explored a number of different revenue approaches over the last 3 years in an attempt to balance our public mission with the need to reach sustainability. We believe anyone should be able to use our products, for free, without limitation at all times. We also observed that our partners wanted help and further engagement from us to inform their strategic and practical use of our tools as well as connecting them to other people/groups using our tools so that they can learn from them (with respect to use cases, industry applications, creative feature implementations, etc.). In this way we think of our sustainability model as a whole similar to that of a public museum, where entry to, say, a collection is free for all but visitors can pay for guided tours and other value-add experiences.
Our FY 2022 operating budget is $2.2 million, which is the expenditure required to maintain and modestly add to the functionality of our products. Over the next several years, we plan to transition this baseline budget (adjusting for inflation) from being primarily grant-supported to being primarily community-supported through memberships and services. We hope to accomplish the transition over a period of three years with the following revenue breakdown. As projections, these percentages are illustrative of our intentions and vision for reaching community-led sustainability through these three approaches:
Projected Revenue Breakdown
FY 2022: 85% grants, 10% community services, 5% memberships
FY 2023: 50% grants, 20% community services, 30% memberships
FY 2024: 20% grants, 25% community services, 55% memberships
Average $ Amount
Yes! Please consider subscribing to our KFG newsletter, PubPub newsletter, and/or following us on Twitter at @kfutures. We usually tweet about announcements and will add updates to our Membership program and news about our members to this feed. And, please consider using one of our open tools in your next publishing endeavor whether it’s a personal blog, a new journal, or a draft manuscript you’re working on!
Please send us your questions and feedback via comment on this Pub or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.