The bad news? Linux.conf.au 2014 conference in Perth has ended up running at a $40,000 loss. The good news? Because the Linux Australia committee planned carefully, that doesn't mean the end of LCA events. The lesson for everyone? Keep an emergency fund and track your spending carefully.
Picture: Simon Lyall
An email from Linux Australia president Joshua Hesketh explains in detail the issues that occurred with the conference (which, we'll point out, is entirely organised and run by volunteers). The full email is linked below and is worth reading, but the key lessons are as follows:
- Nothing is changing with Linux.conf.au, the flagship event for the organisation. "linux.conf.au will not change its format, nor will prices increase significantly," Hesketh wrote. "We do not expect the feel, structure or atmosphere of the events to be affected." The 2015 event is due to take place in Auckland, which is likely to mean a lower attendance than for an Australian-hosted event, but that can be factored into the planning (as it was for the 2010 event in Wellington)."
- Linux Australia can draw on its existing cash reserves to meet the shortfall, but doesn't want to create a situation where that happens repeatedly. "While we have the cash reserves for exactly this scenario it is clearly unsustainable and measures need to be taken to mitigate the risk of it happening multiple years in a row." Those measures include more formal risk mitigation procedures and some revisions to committee structures.
- The main financial impact of the change is that there will be the need to be some cuts to other Linux Australia activities. "In all likelihood we will need to curtail some activities in 2014, such as the amount and quantity of grants that are awarded," Hesketh wrote. "Although a loss is forecast, we still have significant equity as an organisation (> $300k), and our future is not in jeopardy. We simply need to 'tighten the belt' for a year." A more detailed revised budget for the organisation will be created in the next few weeks.
Here at Lifehacker we're big fans of Linux.conf.au and other Linux Australia activities, and we're glad to see that the volunteers that run those are taking the right steps to ensure they can continue. And there's a lesson here for everyone: you need to tackle financial problems head-on when you encounter them and keep an emergency fund to cover unexpected events.