what to do with one million dollars

As you may be aware, in the past few days, OpenMRS Inc received a $1 million dollar donation from the Pineapple Fund. Please refer to https://openmrs.org/2018/01/one-million-reasons-to-celebrate-our-amazing-community/ for futher information about this donation. We are looking forward to being able to support our strategic goals and increase the long-term sustainability of the OpenMRS community through this funding.

We are in the process of working on a potential spend plan to recommend to the OpenMRS Inc Board of Directors for these resources. Expenditure recommendations will consider what we need and want to achieve, timing options ( spending x amount right away to address immediate needs within the community and/or keeping some funding amount in ‘reserve’ for future needs) and identifying what projects/goals are core and need to be addressed in a timely manner.

The OpenMRS community will help develop recommendations to share with the OpenMRS Inc Board of Directors. We urge you to be engaged and offer your opinions about what we should consider as we have this discussion. Please feel free to offer your insights and comments on this Talk post. We will also be having ongoing discussions on our weekly leadership team meetings over the next few weeks. Those calls are open, and we urge you to participate in them.

Congratulations to the community for this donation. It is a reflection of your commitment and contributions. Thanks, as always, for all that you do to make the world a better place.


Well said, Terry!

The leadership calls are Thursday 9am Pacific time. I can’t find the link on my phone but maybe someone else can post the link to the talk thread where agenda and call-in information are listed.

And, as you pointed out, the leadership team welcomes ideas, comments, and participation in the calls.

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Wow! Congratulations to all!

Yes, first of all congratulations OpenMRS!!! :openmrs: :sparkler:

I agree with the concept of horizon which will happen in future that @lober (Bill) was pointing out in the last call. I believe when you make expenditure decision, you’ll have some awareness of 80/20 principle.

in any situation, 20 percent of the inputs or activities are responsible for 80 percent of the outcomes or results.

Read more about it

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This is such a fantastic news. Such an empowerment for the Community. Congratulations!

Everyone in the OpenMRS Community deserves to be proud. Pine’s donation to OpenMRS is an affirmation of our mission and the fact that Pine already knew about OpenMRS, having joined our IRC channel and personally contributed to the project, is an even stronger and personal affirmation of our community. Thanks to everyone for making this possible!

During the leadership call (notes), I appreciated the direction we were going. Nobody wants to just throw this money at projects; rather, everyone wants the donation to be used thoughtfully in a way that maximizes its impact for the community longterm. I thought some of the key points were:

Dividing the money amongst:

  • A 5- to 7-year timespan (e.g., 500K divided over 5 years)

  • A reserve fund (critical to help sustain the community through dry spells)1

  • Funding key projects that are capital investments (i.e., the longterm benefits to the community are predicted to significantly outweigh the immediate costs)

We discussed the possibility of a perpetual endowment and I agree with others who suggested that, while it’s nice to imagine some level of perpetual sustainability, our mission is more immediate.

1Paul dipped into his personal discretionary fund many tismes over the years to keep things going and we shouldn’t take this for granted. Unrestricted funds are a rare gift.


Awesome! But, If I’m not wrong then the funds given would probably be in the form of Bitcoins. In that case , there is a considerable amount of risk attached to this amount as well? Infact the recent fall in the price of Bitcoins from $20k to $11k now itself must’ve have impacted this amount a lot right?( I’m just curious to know :sweat_smile:)

We had a discussion on the weekly OMRS call this morning. We are interested in getting feedback on the following ideas:

  • what do we need to do to help ensure future funding

  • what are the transformative things that would be important to do in the near future

  • what are the critical sustainable things that need to be done

  • what else should we be paying attention to

Please feel free to post your ideas.

You are correct about the donation being in bitcoins, given in such a way to total $1 million at the time of the gift, but was immediately converted to US $ in the receipt transaction. Friends of OpenMRS were able to advise on how to do this and help us accomplish it. :slight_smile:


+1 wise move!

That was a very smart move indeed because now the donation amount is fixed and not subject to market rates :smile:

Random idea: fund someone’s time to create a Coursera course “Introduction to OpenMRS Development” and/or “Introduction to OpenMRS Implementation”. (Or potentially on another platform besides Coursera).

Take care, Mark


I like the idea of well curated training content. There are many people who want to get involved in OpenMRS but have many questions. Using OpenMRS to teach more people about health IT implementation or development e.g. in a MOOC would both sell OpenMRS and bring more people in the community but also spread knowledge and experiences of OpenMRS to academia and the global informatics community. As an example, the department of Medical Informatics at the University of Amsterdam is considering to have students do their projects on OpenMRS but the coordinators have questions on such things as setting up an IDE, etc. A MOOC would give an intro to such potential contributors.

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Also (not-so-random idea): @terry @burke @pihncd @jdick @akanter @ssmusoke @wyclif @lober @toddandersonpih @mseaton @ball and everyone who came for the session on oncology and NCD support in OpenMRS, we had the idea of making a short concept note that we can use to pitch the idea to potential small/private donors. Well, lets complete the concept and pitch to the board of directors :smile:

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@johnblack 's idea about developing a concept note for NCD is exactly the kind of investment I talked about a couple of calls ago.

To determine the cost of such an investment, we should decide if meeting, project management, or other kinds of expenses would ensure we get such a note written in a timely way. We should also decide how we would present the idea to funders (and presumably develop the concept in a way that would mesh with existing program funding goals). That may incur additional costs.

And, we should determine the likely return on investment for such an expense. Who would write a proposal, which would probably include some population or region-specific activity of interest to the funder. How much of the proposal would fund OpenMRS? How would that move the project and community forward?

Just to be clear, I think that would give us an estimated cost and estimated return - one way to compare that use of funds with other potential uses.

When we talk about using a portion of the funds for stability (investing and spending the principle and income over a fixed period of time), and using another portion of the funds to invest in activities that might transform the organization (in either incremental or dramatic ways), I would classify @johnblack 's idea as an incremental investment to transform OpenMRS, rather than a use of the funds we need to ensure the organization is stable.

(and, in case my opinion got list in all the framing detail, I like the idea!)

It would be nice if OpenMRS Inc could support the community by helping us get back to having a dedicated Director of Community.


A couple functional ideas that would be priorities for me (in the “transformative to do in the near future” category):

  • Get us to where OCL can become the primary place for management of OpenMRS concept dictionaries
  • Finish off the Sync 2.0 work (e.g. get it to 1.0, and deployed for real-world testing) [if there’s a gap between the current SolDevelo commitment, and “1.0”, that is.]

Peeking at the role description there, I’d like to shift it to account for the fact that we have some partners who provide many community members and efforts, and a community strategy should explicitly target them, in addition to individual contributors. (This would be a longer conversation for another thread!)

At a meta level I like the approach of dividing this gift between:

  1. Transformational short-term investments, with ideas sourced from the community
    • a more formal version of the project proposals happening here
    • judge them based on costs and expected benefits, as Bill is suggesting.
  2. Improved operational and community support, in a way that’s long-term sustainable (e.g. conservatively invest a portion of the gift, to be spent out over a 7 or 10 year period)
    • Community Manager and Project Manager roles would fit here
    • no need for a “reserve fund” beyond this, with the understanding that later-year funds could be spent in an emergency situation, with some parameters around that.

As an aside, I’d be interested in having the idea of an “OpenMRS Fellowship”, e.g. the sort of thing that a successful GSoC student might go on to do, that could help work on some of the items identified in #1.


I generally agree with Darius… I’m thinking it would make sense to ballpark #2 first… figure out what roles we want to fund and for how many years, get that total cost and then see what that leaves us for #1. If it seems like too little or too much for short-term investments, reassess 2.

Take care, Mark