The proposal for the 2022 Global Community Sponsorship program will not include funding for WordCamps again this year, due to the unpredictability of hosting in-person events. The pandemic continues to make conditions unfavorable in many areas of the world where WordCamp and meetup organizers have opted to continue with virtual events.
In the past, the Global Community Sponsorship program has offered multiple tiers of funding in support of official, volunteer-organized WordPress community events. In 2020, before the program was suspended, global sponsorship tiers ranged from $40,000 – $160,000.
The updated proposal knocks sponsorships back to a single annual package, billed at $10,000 USD per quarter. Sponsor benefits are similar to those offered in 2021. While the base package does not include WordCamp sponsorship, program participants can offer it by electing to pay an add-on, which is also billed quarterly.
“The proposed change for 2022 is that Global Sponsors who add on sponsorship for WordCamps will support all WordCamps (as opposed to choosing which WordCamps to sponsor a la carte), at the camp’s top published level,” WordPress.org community organizer Courtney Patubo Kranzke said.
“In short, there would not be a community grant as we’ve had in the past, but WordCamps will get credited global sponsorship funds at the top local level.”
Patubo Kranzke said that volunteer engagement is currently low and the single package ensures sponsors have a centralized point of contact, as opposed to trying to coordinate with multiple teams of volunteer event organizers.
Despite the potential availability of add-on funds, the updated guidelines for in-person WordCamps state that organizers must be prepared to raise 100% of the expenses for their events. They are encouraged to keep their camps’ budgets lean with free or low cost venues that are fully refundable just in case.
“The expectation is in-person camps have to be able to cover all costs,” Community team contributor Kevin Cristiano said. “The global program will bring some relief to local organizers, but more so create a safety net for the entire program. What do I mean a safety net? We are navigating a world with risks on events like never before and we simply cannot afford another round of cancellations and lost deposits. It is our hope that once finalized the Global program can help bring stability and mitigate risks so we can have WordCamps begin in person again while being financially responsible.”
WordPress community events have been cut back significantly over the past two years. In 2019, local communities hosted 140 WordCamps and 805 WordPress meetup groups met more than 5,900 times. After the pandemic hit in 2020, the community hosted 31 WordCamps, most of which were held online. Meetup groups fell to 745 and met over 4,900 times. At the time of publishing in 2021, there have been just 14 WordCamps (all online) and 755 meetup groups met 2,400+ times.
Despite the community team re-opening applications for in-person WordCamps, all the remaining WordCamps on the books for 2021 have been scheduled as online events.
In anticipation of returning to in-person events, WordPress Community Support has added a “communicable disease liability coverage” policy to its event insurance. Any in-person WordCamp that proceeds to the ticketing stage will have a disclaimer on the purchase page, aimed at protecting organizers against claims related to COVID-19.
The proposal for the 2022 Global Community Sponsorship program is still under discussion until October 15, and will be finalized by October 28, so WordPress can recruit sponsors by the end of the year.