If you have been around the Drupal community for any length of time you have probably heard of the Drupal Association. What you may not be aware of is the myriad ways in which the Association helps foster and support the growth of Drupal, both as a software project and a community
The Association funds the ongoing support and maintenance of Drupal.org, the website that’s home to the Drupal project and community. It also helps organize and support Drupal events around the world. In the United States, the Drupal Association partners with DrupalCon, Inc., a non-profit that organizes the annual North American DrupalCon and provides fiscal agency and insurance for DrupalCamps and other local events.
The Association also funds and supports other projects that are too large for community volunteers to handle on their own, but essential to the growth of Drupal. Recent examples include the Drupal.org redesign and migration to the Git version control system.
Finally, the Association protects the Drupal project and community through legal work and advocacy, and helps promote it through marketing and promotion efforts. Although the Association is dedicated to protecting Drupal’s source code, it does not play any role in the development or direction of the software itself.
The Association has grown tremendously since its humble beginnings only four years ago. Originally created to help raise funds to support the Drupal.org site infrastructure, the Drupal Association today is a large international organization that boasts hundreds of members from around the globe.
The Association is run by a General Assembly of 34 Permanent Members who are responsible for electing a board from among its membership. The current board consists of nine members led by President Dries Buytaert, the founding developer of the Drupal project. The General Assembly is also responsible for adding new Permanent Members to its ranks on an annual basis. While only members of the board vote on resolutions, the entire General Assembly takes part in the debate and monitors all board activities. The board is responsible for everything from approving spending decisions to deciding the location of the next DrupalCon.
Within the last year, the Association also added several full-time paid staff members to help out with its ever-increasing responsibilities. Executive Director Jacob Redding is responsible for the execution of all Association initiatives. Events Manager Neil Kent oversees the logistics of DrupalCon and other events. Sponsor Wrangler Megan Sanicki works with companies and organizations to help provide revenue for the Association. The Association also employs several part time staff members who assist with office management and marketing.
In 2010, the Association focused on several key initiatives. These included the completion of the Drupal.org redesign project, continuing to build a sustainable model for DrupalCons, improving internal processes and decision-making, hiring permanent staff members, and improving the technical infrastructure of Drupal.org. At DrupalCon Chicago, the Association’s General Assembly will meet to discuss its priorities for 2011.
Ensuring the success of DrupalCon is one of the Association’s biggest ongoing commitments to the community. Over the last five years, DrupalCon has grown from a small informal event that brought together a few dozen Drupal developers to a semi-annual international conference that attracts thousands of attendees. Each one of these semi-annual events requires thousands of hours of work as well as coordination with conference organizers and regional teams, vendors, sponsors, speakers, and venue personnel, just to name a few. In recent years, the Association has dedicated itself to making DrupalCon a more sustainable event as it looks toward expansion into areas of the world other than Europe and North America.
Much of the work that the Association does happens behind the scenes, but the results benefit the entire Drupal community. As Drupal continues to grow and evolve, the Association will grow and evolve right alongside it, continuing to help both the community and the project to flourish.