The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

Search the Blog of helios and all comments

Loading

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"I'm Getting Tired of Your Begathons Get A Job."

This is the subject line of an email Reglue received Saturday morning.

"I'm Getting Tired of Your Begathons Get A Job."

Normally, I would have blown it off but I suspect it came from someone in a Google Plus Linux Community in which I am a member.


I could be wrong.  There's a strong chance that I am.  It's just that some of the comments to my initial posting have a strong resemblance to the same tone of this email.

Here's some background to catch you up on how this came about.  For those that know our history chapter and verse, you can skip down 10 paragraph breaks...picking it up again under the next picture.

In 2005. I created an organization that gathers broken or decommissioned computers to repair and place into the homes of disadvantaged kids. To date, we've placed 1602 computers into the homes of kids that could not afford one.  We've created 9 Linux Learning Centers in and around Austin and maintain them all.

I ran the majority of this effort out of my own pocket, primarily from a injury settlement received that same year.  A non disclosure agreement with the insurance company dictates I cannot divulge the amount of the settlement.

Pick any number between 65K and 100K.  The odds are, that will be fairly close.

That money lasted until late 2009.  Since then, The Linux and open source communities have funded the Lion's share of our work.   Every computer we place is done so by the will and power of the global Linux community.

Why?

Because Linux powers those computers.  Every one of them.

I've been away from our project for over a year.  Radiation and chemo therapy
treatments did destroy the cancer, at least so far.  In the process it ate away 19 percent of my muscle mass, it took 65 percent of my hearing and permanently rendered me legally blind anywhere from 8 - 25 inches away from my face.  It has taken me this long to regain enough strength to continue my work.

Having been off work that long, many things did not get done, and that includes the fund raising an Executive Director needs to do.

So in response to our need for funding, I created an Indiegogo.com fund raising campaign and in doing so, we are attempting to raise this year's operating costs.  Our organizational needs do not match the criteria for a kickstarter campaign so we went with Indiegogo.com.  Of course I attempted to spread the word on as many Linux-friendly sites as I could.


Apparently my low-key posts struck a nerve in some.  The main portion of this person's email rant is here:

"Every time I turn around, you have your hand out for $$$.  Why don't you get a (expletive deleted) job and spend some of that money to run your so called "Non Profet" and leave everybody alone.  Maybe get a tin cup some torn jeans a army jacket and stand on a street corner with a sign and a dog.  Just make sure that your sign says god bless somewhere.  Dont forget mention several times that you are a vetran.  I'm sure you will get some sympethy.  No body cares about your stupid cause".

First off, anyone questioning the legitimacy of our "Non Profet" can check against the IRS database with our EIN: 26-0520581.  Both Indiegogo.com, Ebay and PayPal have verified our 501(c)(3) status.

And secondly, I did spend my money to run my "So called Non Profet".  A lot of money.

The third thing...I'm not going to even bother to respond.

With 11 days gone out of the 45 days we chose to run the campaign, less than 1200 dollars has been donated.  We were hoping to have reached at least 20 percent of our goal amount by now. Today it stands at 4%.

I look at astoundingly successful fund raisers currently happening for things like games being ported to Linux and I have to ask myself.  What am I doing wrong?  What are we doing wrong?  Am I over-valuing our function and goals?  Am I inflating the value of what we accomplish?

This email gave me pause.  Does everyone else feel the same way, except they are too polite to say so?

Maybe I picked a bad time to ask for money.  People are on vacation or saving money to go on vacation.....

Or people are just donation-tired with Reglue and can't be bothered any more.

And that G+ Linux community I mentioned?  A good friend of mine spends a lot of his time volunteering with Dentists Without Borders and he was in town for a short time before he left for overseas again.  He made a point that did give me hope.  I just don't know how to make it happen.

He observed that if just 20% of that G+ Linux community donated only 2 dollars to Reglue, we could reach our goal and go about our business.  Truth be told, I don't feel comfortable going back in there at this time.  The last thing I want to be labeled is a spammer.

Asking for a 2 dollar donation.

Maybe if Reglue created a video game, our financial problems would be over.

We do have some unique and solid income resources available to us in just over a year, but between now and then...we're going to need some help.

Most often, regular donations come in from the same people over and over and over.  I know for a fact some of those donors are in the middle of expensive moves or have other important things to do with their money.  Some are two income families with one member not able to work at the moment.  Truth be known...if we never got another donation from these people, that would be just fine. They have went way past "their fair share" in both money and computers.

I would as soon not hear from these folks, at least from a donation standpoint.  Some of us have become good friends over the years.  They've carried us for a long time.  They shouldn't have to do so any more.

But gaining new donors is becoming harder to do.  Grants were supposed to be a big help to us but the type of grant we need...the grants that allow us to spend money for day to day operations...they are almost dried up.  Most grantors have super-strict guidelines for what their money can and cannot be spent on.  Day to day operations belongs to the latter.

So what now?

We are attempting to engage the small community in which we operate to help us as well.  We have a "donation door" at Walmart in a month where we can set up a table and solicit donations there.  We are also attempting to sell excess computer systems for bargain basement prices to fund our work.  This area of my county is still suffering double digit unemployment.  We aren't optimistic about this local effort.

We're even taking machines too old for service and breaking them down by component and selling them for precious metal scrap prices.  You can always check with your IT honcho and see if (s)he has a bunch of this stuff sitting in boxes under the shelves or in cabinet drawers  We'll take them.   It's not like we are standing around doing nothing and waiting for someone to come and rescue us.  If you would like to support us in this manner, email me via this link.  I can provide shipping information.

But all of that is incidental compared to the support we've received from Open Source and Linux Community.

If in fact, we have worn out our welcome within the various Linux ranks, I will need to start getting comfortable with the fact that all good things come to an end at one point or another.

Is it simply time to move on and do other things?  Maybe so.

We've had a heck of a run for the past 8 years and nothing can undo the good things we've done.  I could go to work tomorrow for 12 bucks an hour as a Junior Systems Administrator at HostGator.  To be more honest than I should be...that's a lot more than I make running Reglue.

I'm not sure what the future holds.  Either way, we'll act on the reality of the situation in 90 days or so.  Regardless of which way it goes.

All-Righty Then.....



8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

I just donated using the PayPal link. It doesn't look like it was added to your fund raising progress bar.

Maybe there's a load of donations not being counted?

Stay positive,
Phil

Ken Starks said...

Hey Phil. Indiegogo won't let us partner with PayPal because they get a cut of the donations and if we're sending donors to PayPal from the Indiegogo campaign, they can immediately terminate the campaign.

I am trying to write a script that allows that widget on my blogger page to reflect both...so far, not having much luck. We've received 82 dollars in donations via paypal to this point. If I cant script that widget, I'll post the combined totals every Friday afternoon at 9 PM CST

James Dixon said...

Ken:

You'll never wear out your welcome with me, but quite simply this isn't a good time.

We had some major home improvements and expenses last year, and we completely depleted our reserve cash fund. We're still in the process or rebuilding. My charitable giving is on hold until we get done.

That said, if you want the gas money and hotel cost for the Texas-WVU game, the offer is still there. :) I may even have the money for a couple of beers for you.

I expect we'll have some spare money come early next year and I hope to be able to donate something then. Not much probably, but at least our usual amount.

Ignazio said...

Well, if it helps, the way the Friendly User phrased their feelings made me think that if they can't be bothered to spell we shouldn't be bothered to read, or care. To put it politely.

The other knee jerk reaction (pun as needed) was to go and donate to your cause, but Indiegogo won't accept my card either, likely because it's not a credit but a debit card. Pity because I fancied Thomas' books.

If you wish, you can use my reply to refer the writer of the niceties you reported that what other people think of your "activity", as he doesn't think it's a job, is that it should be funded more. I guess Paypal will have to do for now.

Anonymous said...

hope that was just a random picture of the wireless cards. put them on ebay for 5 -10 dollars better then scrap prices

Joseph Ratliff said...

That email was nuts.

If someone doesn't want to donate, don't, but spreading that "poison" through email wasn't necessary.

I'm donating, and I've never even read about you until this post.
(forgot how I found your blog)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken. Another factor may be high summer bills for air conditioning. I am disabled, so I don't have much to begin with. I have trouble with the high temp/high humidity combination we get here in the midwest in summer, so I cannot forgo the air conditioning. My utility almost tripled from June to July.

What you do is important, make no mistake. And I know it is as much like a job as can be.

I wish that I could do more to help you. If some don't like your fund-raising efforts help provide computers for the disadvantaged children in your area, they will just have to get over it.

Keep your spirits up, and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ken,

Ignore the close-minded idiot who wrote that. At best, they were having a really bad day when they wrote that. At worst... they're not human.

Your work is really good. I support you with all my heart. As a student, I haven't cash to spare, and I'm in Europe, so can't send you hardware.

My Mom says to tell you not to be discouraged. It's only a loud voice of dissent among thousands of quieter (nicer!) sounds of thanks and goodwill.

Good luck and live long!