The history of the Drupal Association is as varied and colorful as the Drupal community itself. As usual, it starts with Dries and involves an amazing cast of characters along the way. We are far from writing the final chapter, but we hope you enjoy the story so far.
The Beginning: When Drupal Outgrew Itself
There was a time when Drupal was a hobby project, hosted on servers in Dries Buytaert, the Drupal project founder's, house. You can read more about the history of the project, but Dries himself explained why Drupal needed a more official home in his blog post, Drupal road trip to San Francisco:
About six years ago [ed. note: 2000] I started working on Drupal. Drupal, at that time, was an experimental platform that helped me explore new web technologies from my student dorm. Contrast this with the present. Today, there are hundreds of people contributing to the project, building and relying on that foundation, and hundreds of thousands of people downloading it. What started as a hobby project is now starting to get on the radar of some of the bigger projects and players ... It is no longer the casual hobby project it used to be. It is fair to say that Drupal's growth makes for some interesting questions, both for me personally, and for the Drupal community at large. It makes me feel increasingly responsible, and that certainly adds some pressure. How to help run this thing as it continues to grow? Do we need a Drupal Foundation or not? How should I deal with my growing sense of responsibility?
His subsequent trip to San Francisco, during which Dries visited a number of high-profile people in the open source community, revealed that it was necessary to create some kind of centralized body who could help deal with the peripheral issues, such as hosting infrastructure, marketing/promotion, and event planning, in order to allow the Drupal project to remain the organic, healthy project that so many had come to rely on.
For the next several months, Dries Buytaert, Dries Knapen, and Steven Wittens, each long-term contributors to the Drupal project from the beginning, began hours of research, discussions with lawyers and accountants, and so on. From these talks, an initial set of statutes and by-laws for an Association was born. From these talks a Belgium non-profit, Drupal VZW, was created.
Drupal VZW was officially announced publicly during a talk by Dries Buytaert at DrupalCon Brussels in September of 2006. Initial Permanent Members of Drupal VZW were selected by Dries Buytaert and the other two core Association founders, and these Permanent Members then elected the first Board of Directors.
In July 2011, Drupal VZW board announced it was pursuing changes to its governance model based on the recommendations of the community and professional advice. The board transitioned from a working board to a policy-based board to provide the strategic direction and guidance the organization needed. As a part of this transition, the board of directors of Drupal VZW requested that DrupalCon, Inc., a US-based entity initially established to house the DrupalCon events in North America assume most of the responsibilities of the Drupal VZW.
There were many reasons why the move to a U.S 501c3 was a good move for the Drupal Community. One of those reasons (aside from tax savings) was accountability. U.S. 501c3s non-profits are required by law to release their financials once per year (IRS form 990). Additionally organizations such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar are setup to monitor 501c3s. This immediately added two new levels of forced accountability previously not required of Drupal VZW.
DrupalCon, Inc. Becomes the Drupal Association
In 2008 the local Drupal community organizing the 2009 DrupalCon in Washington, D.C. formed DrupalCon, Inc. to help with the organization of the conference. The Drupal Association, as a body of people and dedicated volunteers, has been at the center of the organization of these conferences. The organization pursued US 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, which was granted in August of 2010.
In July 2011 DrupalCon. Inc. formally assumed the business name "Drupal Association" and began acting as the legal body to support the worldwide Drupal community with a new mission and governance. In October 2011, the Drupal Association set up an office in Portland.
Since 2011, the Drupal Association has been growing alongside the Drupal Project with continued support from the Drupal community. Our goal is to enable the community to make Drupal the most widely-adopted CMS on the planet, and as community and project needs have changed, so have we. While we initially focused on running DrupalCons and provided some light support to Drupal.org, we have begun to grow into our mission more fully. Currently, the Association works with the community to run a variety of services and programs:
- DrupalCons: Each year, DrupalCons break attendance records and continue to be models for inclusiveness in the tech community. The Association works with the community to curate the content, award grants and scholarships, and organize community sprints. It's our job to source and manage the venue, manage registration and sponsorship revenue, and pay all the bills. We currently hold one Con each year in North America, Europe, and in some years have had a rotating location in an emerging Drupal community.
- Drupal.org: Project participation has continued to grow quickly, and the Association has increasingly assumed responsibility for keeping Drupal.org running for the community. From paying for the hardware, software, and hosting (over $225,000 annually), to providing staff to ensure that the site is optimized for performance, safe, and has the functionality the community needs, we keep busy supporting Drupal.org. This is also an area of great collaboration - community volunteers have supported and supplemented the work of staff.
- Community Cultivation Grants: The Association sets aside $40,000 annually to support new projects that help grow the Drupal Community around the Globe. A community committee reviews all applications and makes the awards. The committee has awarded grants from Charlotte, North Carolina to Szeged Hungary.
- Global Training Days: The Association coordinates four dates each year designed to offer free and low-cost training events to new-to-Drupal developers and create more Drupal talent around the world. The Association helps with coordination, but an army of volunteer trainers host these events from Montana to Mumbai. In 2016, a Global Training Days Working Group was established to run this program.
Flickr photo: kris krug