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September 17, 2012 / Ben Simon

New fundraising campaign: help with QA?

Later this week, we’re rolling out a fun new fundraising campaign that I wanted to surface before it launches.

If you happen to be on the mailing lists for any of the US election campaigns this might seem familiar to you: we’re making it possible for anyone* to donate for a chance to win a trip to the Mozilla Festival in London from November 9-11. It’s also possible to enter without donating.

This is exciting to me for a couple of reasons:

  • I think it will be successful.
  • It can help shine a light on some of the awesome stuff that happens at #MozFest every year.
  • It’s the first non-evergreen campaign we’re running that’s localized. We have versions in French, Spanish, and German, with participation legal for those in US, UK, Canada (excluding Quebec), Mexico, Germany, and France.

Now, with all that said, a request for you, dear reader(s?): Can you help kick the can tires on our pages before we go wide?

Sample links for each of the four pages are here (with links to the signup pages in the text):





And the QA bug where you could enter anything you see is here:

A note of caution: These pages are currently live, though this blog will be the first time the links are anywhere in the wild other than bugzilla. So if you make a donation, it will charge you, and if you sign up, it will enter you.

With all that said, thanks in advance for any help or thoughts! If you don’t want to enter something you see, please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me directly.

*As mentioned in the bullet list, it’s not actually a fully global campaign at this point — the rules & regs around things like this were too much to make that possible. To enter, you must be 21 or older and live in the US, UK, Canada (excluding Quebec), Mexico, France, or Germany.

August 21, 2012 / Ben Simon

What are we making at #MozParty? Gearing up for the grand finale

This summer, Mozilla asked you to join in a unique global experiment: what if we invited people around the world to make and learn something amazing with the web?

The result was the world’s first-ever “Summer Code Party.” For the past 8 weeks, people have been getting together in big and small groups for some summer learning and fun. Trying out new Webmaker projects to unleash their digital creativity, gain new skills, and planting seeds for a more web literate world.

Thanks to you, the experiment has already been a huge success. Since the party kicked off on June 23, you have successfully run…

  • more than 600 Summer Code Party events with
  • 4,250 participants spread across
  • 77 different countries!

And the party keeps on rolling. As we head into the party’s final month, there are events planned for Berlin, Cairo, India, the Netherlands, Colorado and Sioux City — to name just a few. Many of you will be hosting special “theme parties” around everything from sports to superheroes to “Call Me Maybe” remixes.

And it’s all gearing up for a global grand finale on September 22 and 23.

What are we making at #MozParty?

Some of our favorites from the past month:

Gearing up for the grand finale: September 22 & 23

The Summer Code Party will wrap up with a grand finale the weekend of September 22 and 23. Let’s show the world what we made and learned together this summer, get together for demos and show and tells, and discuss what happens next.

Events are in the works at Mozilla spaces and partner venues in London, Berlin, New York, San Francisco — plus of course whatever you would like to add to the mix!

Get involved:

Check out this ABC News video on a Summer Code Party event in New York

Reposted from an Open Matt post that was having some issues. This post written by @OpenMatt.

July 26, 2012 / Ben Simon

“The world I want to live in”

Over the past few weeks,we’ve made our first attempts to directly fundraise based on our Webmaker initiative.

We led off, two weeks ago, with a monthly donation appeal focused on the core Webmaker program and the need for consistent support. Last week, we switched the focus to more about who some of the new webmakers are that this program is enabling, highlighted by this awesome “Meet the Webmakers” video:

Unfortunately, neither of those did particularly well. I wanted to try a different, more political tack, which is why I care about what we’re doing. In particular, I wanted to explicitly lay out the long-term, world altering vision behind the webmaker initiative, that goes beyond the present tense of enabling people to make awesome stuff on the Web (which is, on its own, awesome).

I’m pleased to be able to say that it does seem to be working better than the first two appeals we tried. It’s not going crazy gangbusters — we still have had more success asking people to donate $30 for a t-shirt — but it does seem to be resonating.

Here’s the appeal. Would love to hear what you think!

From: Me
Subject: The world I want to live in

Hi there,

I care about the Mozilla Webmaker program (I mean, I’d better, right?). But not for the reason you might think.

Yes, I want people to make awesome stuff and express themselves on the Web using our projects and resources. But here’s why I really care about it:

Because I want to live in a world where a proposal that could destroy the Web like SOPA or PIPA or ACTA would simply get laughed out of the room, no matter how powerful its proponents.

Right now, whether we’re talking about Washington or Brussels; Moscow, Ottawa or New Delhi, governments and leaders hold in their hands the power to let the Web flourish or to destroy it — and often they simply don’t understand what they’re dealing with.

But if, together, we can create a world where everyone grows up not just using the Web, but actively making it their own and learning how it works? That’s the world I want to live in.

It won’t be easy, and it cannot happen overnight. That’s why I’m asking you to help make it a reality, by chipping in $5 or more right now.

How do we do it? By building a movement of educators and contributors, kids and parents, learners and community leaders all working together to open the Web up for any and all to come together and make their mark. And by doing it together with the individuals, nonprofits, companies and governments who share our vision.

We’ve got an early set of resources — projects, tools and events — at, but it’s just the beginning. Thousands of budding webmakers across the world have already gotten their first taste through the Summer Code Party.

But where we’re talking in the hundreds and thousands now, we need to be talking in the hundreds of thousands in a few years’ time. And we’ll only get there if you’re with us, from the start.

So what do you say? Can you make a donation of $5 or more, to help create a better world for us all?

Thank you,


P.S. — This is a long-term project, but threats to the Web won’t stop in the meantime. That’s why we’ve helped found the Internet Defense League, it’s why we’re a founding signer of the Declaration of Internet Freedom, and it’s why we’re going to play a role in important policy fights as they come. But we also need to be playing the long game, and we need your support if we’re going to be successful. Please chip in today:

Ben Simon
Sr. Manager of Organizing
Mozilla Foundation

July 20, 2012 / Ben Simon

A Cat Signal in the San Francisco sky?

Last night, if you were near the Embarcadero area of San Francisco, you might have seen an interesting sight:

Marking the launch of the Internet Defense League, (and not coincidentally going up the night of the Dark Knight Rises premiere), the Cat Signal is meant as a symbolic way to bring together folks from across the internet to defend the open Web and push to make it better.

Launched from the roof of our San Francisco office, we heard remarks from Mozilla’s Mark Surman & Mitchell Baker, from rabble-rouser and activist Eliabeth Stark, and from Craig Newmark.

It was a seriously awesome event — if you haven’t already signed up as a member of the league, do so now! And if you want to create your own IDL member page, we created a great project in Thimble to get you started.

A couple more pictures from last night:

May 23, 2012 / Ben Simon

What’s notable about the new webmaker events platform

Many of you probably saw this yesterday as part of the launch of the Mozilla Webmaker initiative, but we’ve gone live with a new distributed events platform to support webmaker events at

This is the culmination of a process begun several months ago, and it was done in a rather interesting way — and, it should be noted, huge thank yous are due to Chris Appleton, Ross Bruniges, Andrew Hayward, & Matt Patterson for designing, coding, and, you know, actually building it.

The frst thing that’s worth noticing is that it’s pretty freaking beautiful. I mean, check out those event guides!

But it’s also got some neat functionality in there (as well as some features we’re looking to add in the future).

Some of it is pretty close to the off-the-shelf Blue State Digital events module, with some tweaks like extra opt-in/privacy policy checkboxes. To see that path, choose the left-hand column on this page, or see a sample event like so.

What’s really interesting — and potentially very useful to other groups on BSD — is the open, custom app built on top of BSD. We wanted to figure out a way to provide a true big tent, and part of that means not requiring that you create your event on our platform.

So we (well, Team Ross) built an app that also allows you to add an external event — anything with an external URL — but still have it listed on our map & calendar.

To do that, simply choose the right-hand option on the create event page, log in/create an account with browserID/persona (Mozilla’s awesome new identity service), and you’re on your way.

There are some functions that just aren’t supported too well in BSD (ticketing & attendee categorization, to name two), and this feature allows organizers to use another service if it’s better for them, while still getting the benefits of being a part of Mozilla Webmaker. And, of course, that’s not to mention events that already existed, to prevent organizers from having to manage separate RSVP streams.

So, what do you think? Does it make you want to organize a summer code party on June 23rd?

Please take the tools for a spin — if you see any bugs, we welcome reports on Lighthouse, or if you’re adventuresome and want to fork the code (or submit a patch), it’s on Github here.

April 5, 2012 / Ben Simon

Join Mozilla Update: April 5, 2012

Been too long since one of these — got a fair bit of ground to cover. Namely:

  • Total Q1 numbers
  • T-shirt campaign results from February & March
    • February Email Test results
    • FF Channel Promotion Results
  • What’s next?
    • Summer campaign
    • Monthly donor program
    • Moz Fest Contest

Total Q1 Numbers

Q1 was a very promising start to 2012 for us. We closed out the quarter having raised just over $200,000, at $204,000, from 7,424 donors. Awesomely, 6,755 of those donors gave for the first time!

And we closed out the quarter with an email list of ~310,000 subscribers (we’re at ~315,000 today).

Month by month, here’s what we saw:

March: $87k from 2,667 donors (2,519 first time)

Feb: $48k from 1,792 donors (1,357 first time)

Jan: $69k from 3,131 donors (2,880 first time)

I don’t expect to hit the same pace in Q2 — the January numbers featured some carry-over from our end-of-year campaign, the February numbers were helped by a direct fundraising appeal over email, and the March numbers were helped by having a strong presence in Firefox channels (about which more later). That said, this is a really promising pace, far exceeding anything we’ve seen before except for December of last year.

T-shirt campaign results

Our recent t-shirt campaign had two principal stages — February’s direct emails to the Join list, and March’s presence in Firefox channels. I’ll describe both, and then embed the stats for all.

Direct appeals

We sent two appeals to the list — an initial one from Mark, and a follow-up from me. For Mark’s, we did a test of a one-time ask (donate $30 or more and we’ll send you a t-shirt) vs. a monthly ask (make a monthly donation of $5 or more and we’ll send you a t-shirt).

The results were very inconclusive — the one-time test raised just less than 10x as much as the monthly test (which would lead to the monthly segment being better, since a 12-month average retention would be a conservative projection). However, the monthly segment had much higher unsubscribes, and it also had a much higher open rate (and, therefore, click rate). While the latter would normally be a good thing, in this case I concluded that it was inflating the relative performance of the monthly segment, since the messages had identical subject lines and headers (so there was no reason why open rates should differ). We decided to send the one-time ask to the full list, through it could have gone either way.

The second appeal was just a quick note from me on top of Mark email. Overall, using 12-month projections from the monthly gifts, email 1 raised $15,201, and email 2 raised $11,763.

Firefox channel promotion

Over the course of March, we were heavily in channel on the Firefox home page snippet, and we were also placed in the Firefox e-newsletter, and on Firefox twitter & Facebook. Here’s the Facebook post. Who is that handsome model they got?

The snippet was by far the most lucrative channel of the four, though results from all were actually very good.

Snippet: $53,405.56
E-newsletter: $9,082.27
FF Facebook: $1,643.00
FF Twitter: $1,131.41

Here are the full stats from the campaign:

What’s next?

There are three different pushes in the next few months that we’re thinking about (to take us into the Fall). They are:

Summer campaign

In concert with our Mozilla Summer Code Party, we’ll be doing some fundraising integrated with our other communications. That will most likely take the form of a fallback ask (eg: Can’t host a summer code party? Please think about making a donation to help us make this campaign as awesome as it can be), but it will definitely be very present.

Monthly donor program launch

One of the flaws we were guilty of in the monthly appeal we did around the t-shirts is that we didn’t make a real case about why giving monthly is important — steady stream of income, long-term stability, etc. So at some point in the next several months we’re going to try to make that case in as straightforward and compelling a way as possible.

Moz Fest Contest

Taking a page from the presidential campaigns, I want to run a “win a trip to the Mozilla Festival” campaign. You could enter without donating, but it will be primarily pitched for fundraising. Hopefully a trip to London for three days of awesomeness will be enticing!

As always, any thoughts/questions/concerns are more than welcomed in the comments!

March 23, 2012 / Ben Simon

More on the kitchen table summer campaign

I’m currently doing a bit of travel to seek out smart people to get ideas for both our summer campaign and our distributed organizing in general, and this week led me to a discussion with some old colleagues currently working on the Obama campaign (thanks guys!).

Some great thoughts came out of it that I don’t think we’ve touched on yet. Specifically, we came up with a set of questions that need to be answered and thought through as we’re getting this off the ground (along with an assortment of other thoughts, which I’ll get to at the end). Some of the bigger questions are:

Who are we asking to lead?

There are two main potential structures for our kitchen table events — peer-led or parent/guardian-led — and the way to promote and talk about those is pretty different. We need to do both, but it means that we’ll need to tailor our messaging to the medium, and not just assume a one-size-fits-all approach will work.

What’s our support structure?

No matter how we do this, event hosts & participants will have questions that cannot be answered by how-to guides & FAQs alone. Are we getting a group of super-vols, poised to answer questions in realtime during the day of action? Or something else? Either way, we need to be ready.

What’s our follow-up ask?

In the classic house meeting model, hosts of one meeting try to get attendees of their meeting to then go off and host their own. But, that’s not really what we’re after, here — it seems like what we really want is for people to, based on their original events, essentially form those groups into “teams” of sorts, who will continue working together through the summer (or longer).

What’s the goal of the event? Or, more precisely, how do we accommodate different goals?

This has a few different parts. First, there’s the basic idea that there are a few different reasons why you might want to have friends/your child’s friends over hack & learn some webmaking (or, different goals you have coming in).

One is the idea of getting together to have fun, with the specific thing you’re making being somewhat incidental — this could use one of the Hackasurus missions, for example.

But another is where the goal is to address a specific problem — maybe it’s a group of 15-year-olds who started a band and want to make a website, or maybe a few friends who want to do something to help out in their town — and where the goal really is to make a very specific thing.

Now, both of these are models we definitely want to support, but there would probably be differences in how they would be structured and how they’d be pitched so the people who have a problem they want to solve recognize they could do it through one of our events.

And, finally, since what we’re really trying to teach is a tool or language to get you somewhere else, we need to create ways for affinity groups to join up, who want to use these events for their own purposes (so, not just appealing to webby groups, but to groups who could benefit by doing something webby).

A couple other thoughts

One key insight is really that the promotion we’re doing (at least for the kickoff of the summer campaign) is almost purely about hosting, rather than attending. The informal nature of the events is such that we aren’t asking people to have strangers into their homes, but rather to create the event they want, with whoever they want to be there. That definitely changes how we should talk about the events and build the campaign — in part, at least, in that we shouldn’t start small by just asking some select group to host, but also in other, still to be discovered, ways.

Another really interesting idea (which it’s likely too late for this year, but summer 2013?) is if we could be developing a fellows program, essentially a service-learning program for CS majors, to be able to help teach kids to code for their summer, in exchange for some sort of credit. Might be unworkable for any number of reasons, but could be a neat idea to explore.

And we also talked about how much of an asset partnerships will be, both within Mozilla and outside of our community. I’m particularly hopeful that ReMo could be an enormous help with something like this — time to get talking!

Finally, as a side note, people seem to like the Kitchen Table branding for our low-bar events. So, perhaps the naming there was not so temporary…

Picking a bunch more brains next week — looking forward to where this goes.