What’s Happening Inside Mozilla

Is not a conversation about inclusion. That was settled long ago. And Mozilla, unlike many organizations, treats our mission and our guidelines as sacred texts.

It’s also not a conversation about quality of life and the culture of the workplace. I’ll let my colleagues speak for themselves.

So if it’s not about the applied and the tangible, it’s about the symbolic and the intangible.

Our conversation is about rights.

Specifically, two rights: Equality and Free Speech. And which one this is.

The free speech argument is that we have no right to force anyone to think anything. We have no right to prevent people from pursuing their lives based on their beliefs. That what matters is their actions. And as long as they act in the best interests of the mission, as long as they don’t impose their beliefs on those around them, they are welcome.

The equality argument is that this isn’t a matter of speech. That believing that 1/n of us aren’t entitled to the same rights as the rest of us isn’t a ‘belief’. That the right to speech is only truly universal if everyone is equal, first.

Both sides are well represented inside Mozilla. Often by the same, conflicted people.

Our current situation is forcing us to choose between them.

And that sucks more than most of us can express in words. And we’re desperately trying to find a path forward that doesn’t wreck this beautiful thing we’ve built.


How I Interpret the Holocaust Memorial

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe remains one of my favourite (if that word can be applied to such a thing) parts of Berlin. I find it particularly powerful.

This directly contrasts with the experience of most everyone else, who can be placed in two groups. The first are the puzzled tourists who mutter “This is it?” to each other. The second are the classicists who see it as insultingly inadequate, painfully vague, or, at best, underwhelming.

It is, without question, non-traditional. It doesn’t have any of the architectural trappings usually associated with memorials. It’s relative blandness is made even more stark by its proximity to the Brandenburg Gate.

But to focus on its physical appearance is to miss the point. It is an experiential memorial that provides the participant with the briefest (and, by limits of representation, inadequate) glimpse into what it might have been like to be near or involved in the actual event.

First and most importantly, there is the obvious symbolism of the stacked coffins – that you are surrounded and overpowered by death. But that’s just the beginning.

You don’t know what it is. Walking by, you can’t help but notice it, but there are no signs explaining it or indicating its importance. It’s just there, defying explanation.

People disappear into it. If you stand across the street and watch, you’ll see groups of people slowly sink from view as they walk between the pillars. They don’t reemerge.

Its true scale and depth are imperceptible, till you’re already consumed within it. The pillars in the middle stand 12 to 15 feet high. You don’t realize how ‘tall’ the coffins are stacked when you’re on the outside looking in.

Similarly, you can’t tell how many people are inside it till you’re also inside. From the street it looks empty. Once inside, you realize there can be upwards of 100 people trapped in its maze.

Enter and you quickly get separated from your group. Take one unexpected turn and you lose contact with your friends and family who entered just a few steps behind you. It takes considerable effort to find them again.

Which means you’re on your own. Isolated. It’s you vs. the memorial.

People flit in and out of view. As you walk through the memorial, other people quickly cross your path and disappear. Brief, fleeting glimpses of strangers you’ll never see again.

The close confines force you into unexpected confrontations with strangers. You can easily run into people also trying to find their way through.

It is aggressively and unforgivingly regimented. It is organized. And it is unimaginative in its organization. It’s banal. (Which, in my mind, is one of the true horrors of the holocaust.)

And finally, despite the regimented layout, there are enough incongruencies – like the occasional leaning pillar threatening to fall over, or the undulating ground throwing you off your stride – to ensure you never gain total confidence.

It is impossible to convey the scale, misery, and horror of the Holocaust. But I find the memorial significantly more evocative and moving for its lack of pretension.


Mozilla Foundation’s CRM Plans

During our planning for 2014, a need that came up over and over again was for better data tracking across the board. This included managing our contributor targets, engagement funnels, campaigns, partners, etc.

We decided we needed a CRM. And ‘CRM’ quickly became a dumping ground for a huge wish list of features and unmet needs.

Since then, a small group has been working to figure out what we actually need, whether it’s the same thing that other Mozilla teams need, and which of us is going to do the work to put those systems in place.

Adam Lofting, Andrea Wood, and I have come up with a framework we’re going to pursue. It splits ‘CRM’ into three functions and proposes a path forward on each. We feel this represents the best use of our resources, lets us hit our priorities, and ensures that we continue to work under a ‘One Mozilla’ model.

1.) Partner Management

  • What this means: Traditional CRM features such as shared contact lists, joint documents, status updates, and communications management.
  • How we’d use it: To manage our relationships with Webmaker partners, BadgeKit adopters, and institutional funders.
  • The plan: Mozilla’s IT department is leading a CRM implementation to manage deal flow and other relationships behind the FFOS Marketplace and emerging content partners. The Foundation will adopt whatever system is put in place from that process. This is based on the assumptions that (i) ‘partner management’ is a fairly standardized process, (ii) the Foundation’s needs can be mapped onto whichever tool IT selects, and (iii) there are benefits to be had from working within the same framework as our colleagues in business development.

2.) Campaign Management

  • What this means: E-mail, small dollar fundraising, activism, standalone campaign web sites, event registration, and other outreach and engagement activities.
  • How we’d use it: To promote our events and programs, to manage registration for events, to run activism campaigns, and to anchor our small dollar fundraising.
  • The plan: The Foundation and Corporation engagement teams are working to combine budgets, gather requirements, and launch an RfP process to select a platform to run both programs. We already work together on the design and implementation of campaigns, and a shared technology platform will make that collaboration more efficient and avoid current, user-impacting issues resulting from multiple tools managing multiple e-mail lists.

3.) Contributor Management

  • What this means: Outreach, engagement, metrics, and recognition behind the Grow Mozilla goal of reaching 1 million contributors to our project.
  • How we’d use it: Metrics and analytics on engagement ladders, measuring contribution numbers, and rewarding and recognizing our contributors.
  • The plan: This is the area where we will probably have to build our own, Mozilla-wide solution. The People, Engagement, Business Intelligence, Foundation, and Open Badges teams are currently working together to figure out what that will entail. The solution will most likely involve some combination of program-specific engagement funnels, metrics and analysis through Project Baloo, and reward and recognition through Open Badges. More as it unfolds.

Does this sound right? Are there things missing? Please ask in the comments.

Mozilla, Pitch Geek

Infographic: Our 2013 Fundraising Success

2013 was Mozilla’s most successful fundraising year ever. We grew our core operating grants and more than doubled the size of our donations campaign.

This is a shared, project-wide accomplishment. More than 40 Mozillians from across the foundation, corporation, and community pulled together to make it happen. And I’m proud of what we accomplished.

We still have a long way to go. We’re overly dependent on a few key funders and there’s a big gap between our current revenue and our goal of matching Wikimedia’s fundraising program.

But 2013 was an indication that we’re on the right path, with the right team, and a mission our community loves.

Click to enlarge


Mozilla, Pitch Geek

Why do you need my donation when you have all that Google cash?

This post is designed to help you answer the question:

“Why do you need my money when you have all that Google cash?”

We’ve provided 5 different ways to answer the question, listed in order of how well they usually satisfy the person posing it. In terms of soliciting support, (1), (2), and (3) all work in decreasing efficacy. If you find yourself answering with (4) or (5), you’ve already lost.

(4) is the one most people inside of Mozilla will tell you. But it won’t inspire anyone to make a donation, won’t inspire anyone about the mission, and demeans the potential upside of what fundraising does for Mozilla both in terms of bringing new resources to the mission and growing our community. (5) is tricky and brings up all sorts of other questions, so use at your own risk.

None of the answers are prescriptive or written as scripts. Just suggestions. You can also make up your own answer: why you feel fundraising is important to Mozilla.

When answering the question, the most important thing is to be confident; you don’t need to excuse anything. More than 120,000 people gave to Mozilla in 2013. Our community understands that we’re different, that we’re tackling a huge challenge, that that challenge matters, and that we need all the expertise, time, and money we can get if we’re to win.

You can also point them to this post on why fundraising matters to Mozilla.

1.) Turn around, look up the hill.
The main thing that works is contextualizing $300M in terms of the scale of the challenge. It’s a lot of cash by itself. It’s nothing compared to what we need to do. Don’t look down the hill at the scale of other non-profits. Look up the hill at the scale of each of our competitors, much less their combined strength. Follow this up by talking about the outsized impact that Mozilla wields. How $10 in our hands goes much further because of our community, our leverage, and our reputation. Look at what Firefox did to Internet Explorer.

Strength: Fact-based and usually obvious, once pointed out.
Weakness: Risks making $10 feel inconsequential.

2.) Product vs. Program
The $300M Firefox makes is spent making Firefox. The Google revenue pays for the main pieces of software we build. There’s barely any left once that’s done. But there’s still a lot we need to do to pursue the mission. That’s where the donations and grants come in. They drive our education work. Our activism. Our protection of privacy. Our research and development. They help us teach kids to code. To get governments to respect our rights to privacy. To address the parts of our mission that Firefox can’t solve by itself.

Strength: Makes it clear where the donations go and why $300M isn’t enough.
Weakness: Most people know and like us because of Firefox. This argument underlines that their donations are not directly connected to keeping Firefox around.

3.) Money is more than money.
Money is a means of contributing. Of expressing support. Of making partnerships real. Of feeling you belong. Of getting us into rooms. It lets us build relationships with funders that help us direct and influence how billions of charitable and public dollars are spent each year. Money brings much needed resources to our organization, but it also grows our community, builds our momentum, helps us solidify key partnerships, and generally gain the energy, access, and reach we need to win.

Strength: Lots of rhetoric and poetry. You can hear the music swelling.
Weakness: Nothing but rhetoric and poetry. Easily deflated.

4.) Being a non-profit matters. And non-profits need to raise money.
Being mission-driven isn’t enough. Mozilla’s founders decided they couldn’t pursue our mission as a software company that maintains a value set. They decided that we actually need to be a non-profit. That’s the anchor that does more than just guide our decision-making, it guarantees we make the right call. And non-profits in the United States have to fundraise. It’s part of what lets you stay a non-profit.

Strength: Fact-based and a one or zero problem set. We don’t fundraise, we can’t stay a non-profit.
Weakness: Completely uninspiring. If you get here you’ve usually already lost, as it’s the least interesting and motivational.

5.) Fundraising is part of our efforts to diversify our revenue.
Saying this is risky, because the size of our fundraising program is nowhere near the scale of our Google deal. However, our fundraising has almost doubled year-over-year since 2009 to reach $12M in 2013. Wikimedia, our closest analog, makes $30M a year, which is real revenue. We’re working to match that. Large charities – hospitals, universities, big health – routinely combine large earned income programs with equally large (if not bigger) fundraising programs measured in 100s of millions a year. This is many  years away for us, but it’s a perfectly viable form of long-term revenue.

Strength: Diversification is an obvious good to most people.
Weakness: Fundraising is not a meaningful replacement for the Google deal (yet). Also highlights the dependency on the Google deal.


Engagement Team Anthology

2014 marks the launch of a new Mozilla Foundation engagement team. We gathered in Vancouver last week to meet each other, build new systems, and plan the year. We asked everyone to author a post reflecting on 2013’s success and the challenges they hope to take on in 2014.

Amira DhallaYear of new. Year of change. Year of focus.
Bobby RichterTwenty Fourteen
Erica SackinEngagement Work Week
Erika DrushkaI think of myself as a translator.
Geoffrey MacDougall2014
John BevanOnwards!
Lainie DeCoursyHelp! (How I fit in)
Lynn Melander MooreAnticipating Workweek
Mavis OuJoining the Engagement Team
Megan Cole-KaragoryHello, Vancouver
Melissa RomaineEngaging in 2014
Sabrina NgGet Ready to Engage!
Sydney MoyerOh Canada Workweek



2013 was a challenging but rewarding year. We moved from a development team of one to a full team of six. We took on rebuilding our small dollar program. And we played with models on how best to deliver our programming.

It seems to have paid off. We have a solid team of new leaders hitting their stride, process gaps are getting filled, and all of Mozilla is getting more excited about the potential of fundraising to bring new resources and contributors to the mission.

Most importantly: we hit our targets. We raised $10.5M in institutional funding and $1.5M in small dollar funding. I often say that fundraising is pass/fail. So, in this sense we passed.

There are things that didn’t work. Our early explorations around major donors have largely fallen flat. That said, we’ve learned a lot and have a great sense of how to structure things differently going forward. The prevalence of privacy and surveillance as an issue, our emerging partnership with civil society organizations, and our growing policy program all provide an ideal opportunity to do something huge. I’m looking forward to helping make that happen.

But the biggest challenge heading into 2014 stems from a new role. The communications and development teams have been combined into one engagement team. This larger and expanding team will be responsible for our new, unifying goal: engaging contributors.

Mozilla is a movement. When we succeed, it’s due to the individuals who give their time and resources to the mission. As competition in the browser, phones, education, and privacy space heats up, our ability to compete and win is wholly dependent on getting more people involved. That objective will be my sole focus in 2014.

Fortunately, we have an amazing group of people rallying to the call. The existing communications and development staff will be joined by new hires skilled in large-scale product marketing. We are beefing up our operational capacity by hiring a new program manager. And we are doubling down on major donors by hiring a new person to build that program.

Within the context of recruiting new contributors, my job in 2014 will consist of three objectives:

Hit targets. Success in 2014 is dependent on understanding how to plan for and achieve scale. This means an increased focus on metrics, conversion, and generally building a culture across our organization that cares about going big.

Build a service framework. We lack support infrastructure around engagement activities such as web site development, copy writing, graphic design, press relations, donor management, list growth, etc. Our current systems are the result of incremental decisions made during our rapid growth. They’re the best talented people could make happen at the time. But our current position allows for a chance to reflect on that infrastructure and think of how to make it better.

Empower new leadership. This is easily, and usually correctly, dismissed as HR tripe. But, in our case, this is make or break. There are people out there extremely skilled at what we need to do. We’ve been fortunate to have already found and hired a number of them. My job is to support people with the resources, models, and freedom to take ‘Mozilla’ and run with it.

It all starts this week. It will be tiring, largely because the EOY campaign was very stressful and I haven’t had a chance to take a break. That comes in February. But the extravert in me loves the energy of work weeks. And I’m deeply love with the team we’ve built.

I’m looking forward to it.