It is our goal at The Drupal Association to be sustainable, so we can deliver on our mission for years to come. In 2016 we reorganized to achieve this goal, which moved us into healthier financial waters. However, we still have work to do.
After financial analysis, we can see that some programs sustain themselves and some do not. The good news is, most do. Unfortunately, DrupalCon Europe often does not. In the past, we’ve taken a loss because DrupalCon Europe is an important way in which we serve the community. Now, with renewed focus on our financial health, we need to rethink how we achieve this event in a more sustainable way.
To make sure we are balanced between serving our mission and making this event sustainable, The Drupal Association and Board created a DrupalCon Europe task force. After looking at the event financials we determined the best way to achieve notable expense savings was to eliminate our Monday programming and activities. This cut includes full day training sessions, the Community Summit and Business Summit, and one day of sprinting (Monday).
DrupalCon training and Business Summit registrations have noticeably declined in attendance in recent years, making them most reasonable to eliminate. The Business Summit cancellation is balanced through increasing value in business track programming, CEO dinner, and organically organized BOFs throughout the week.
Cancelling a day of sprints was a tough decision. Sprints are a vital part of DrupalCon, and the success of the Drupal project. Unfortunately, we cannot realize our production savings unless we cancel the full slate of Monday activities.
While some of those individual activities generated revenue or directly supported mission work, the most direct way to achieve notable savings is to eliminate one full day of production: the cost for staff to prepare a venue, run heating and cooling, provide and service WiFi, and catering. Some of the traditional Monday activities will shift to later in the week, for instance, the opening night reception will move to Tuesday evening.
The other direct cost saving we can realize without eliminating programming, is to no longer offer free attendee t-shirts and physical tote bags. We know, the free t-shirts are awesome and this is not fun to read. The upside is that sponsors - who do an amazing job helping fund DrupalCon - always bring their t-shirt-best to the exhibit hall. We are evaluating if we can provide a collectible t-shirt for purchase as an alternative option. Additionally, we will be providing electronic tote bags with giveaways from sponsors.
We wanted to communicate the notable changes above as soon as possible. But some other, more minor details are still being ironed out. For instance…
We aren't approaching this puzzle from just an expense standpoint. We are also looking at plans to make the event more financially accessible for attendees. We are researching options like ticket discounts for qualified attendees and early bird discounts for Drupal Association members. These are not set in stone, just explorations at this point.
Beyond the financial accessibility of a DrupalCon ticket, we are looking to expand DrupalCon attendance by inviting new attendees. We need more contributors, a next generation of sprint mentors, on-site DrupalCon volunteers, and enthusiasts who go home and champion Drupal to their colleagues and peers. We will be launching support campaigns to introduce new audiences to DrupalCon, and equip our partners and sponsors with the tools and support to promote DrupalCon to their own circles.
This plan is still evolving and things may change. There may still be additional changes as we learn and see the impacts of the decisions we’ve already made. We're working hard to balance costs with benefits, and preserve the strong community experience that makes DrupalCon special. We will continue to communicate as we go - we know DrupalCon is as important to all of you, as it is to us.
Edited on 16 Feb 2017 to clarify paragraph on sprint cancellation.