Board Meeting Minutes, February 2021

A meeting of the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) Board was held via video call on Wednesday 17th February 2021 from 18:30 - 20:30

Board members who dialled in: Vanessa Barnett (VEB) (Chair), Helen Turvey (HT) (Vice Chair), Rufus Pollock (RP), Jarmo Eskelinen (JE), Ira Bolychevsky (IB),Tim Hubbard (TH), Vicky Brock (VAB), Johnny West (JW)
Observers: Cassandra Woolford (CW) (FM), Jo Barratt (JB) (DM) Meg Foulkes (MF) (BDM), Daniela Popova

Welcome & review of minutes & actions [Chair]

The minutes from the October 2020 board meetings were approved.

Jarmo Eskelinen has volunteered to be the OKF Board representative to sit on the Datopian Board, and Ira Bolychevsky has volunteered to be the observer.

Leadership Team Update [LT]

The Hewlett grant ended in December 2020, all funding was used and reports submitted. 

JB gave a high level overview of new contracts and confirmed the stability of projects throughout 2021, including a piece of work on improved documentation for the Frictionless Data project. The Open Knowledge team is growing, and three new people were onboarded in January 2021. 

MF provided an update on the ongoing relationship building with funders and plans for proposals.

MF confirmed a grant to support the Justice Program in the form of a Strategic Litigation project, as well as development of best practice guidelines with specialists in discrimination against women, data rights activists, disability rights activists and technical specialists. MF confirmed the development and awareness of the Justice program continues to grow.

Action: MF was asked to circulate the draft guidelines for Remote Proctoring software

JB provided an update on the current projects including Open Data Day 2021 which is due for launch on the 6th March 2021. ODD 2021 includes a new explorative project called Net Zero Challenge which received direct funding. NZC is a global competition to answer the following question – How can you advance climate action using open data?

A grant, funding the development of Frictionless Data, has received an extension until the end of December 2021.

Several Data Literacy training projects are underway with Open Knowledge engaging with the School of Data community to deliver the demanding schedule. 

A suggestion from IB to use the Leadership team updates to spread the word about the activities of OKF on a wider level. JB confirmed that with the return from Shared parental leave of our Content Development Manager, the communications aspect will shortly be back on track and the Annual report from 2020 is due to be published in Q1 2021.

Finance Update [CW]

CW provided Q4 financials including the projected Surplus for Year End 2020. 

The 2020 Audit commenced at the beginning of February with the intention to provide draft accounts for sign off in the April 2021 board meeting. 

CW commented on the fact the OKF had turned a corner and with a positive surplus for 2020 and a stable outlook for 2021 the organisation is well on it’s way to becoming sustainable without the reliance on UnRestricted funding. 

Suggestion from HT that a conversation takes place about what ‘Sustainable’ looks like with Open Knowledge. Action: CW to consider and develop during 2021. 

JW offered to help CW with financial modeling to analyse the risk related to forecasting based on historical financial actuals. 

Acknowledgement from a number of Board members for the clear and concise reporting.

Risk Register [CW]

No updates and no comments

Datopian [RP]

VEB introduced DP as the new board liaison from Datopian.

RP briefly mentioned the holacratic approach organising Datopian, DP is the lead link and will attend OKF board meetings.

RP reflected on the past two years and the fact the company has transitioned into being profitable.

RP presented provisional 2020 figures, showing a considerable profit.

The company has suffered an impact from COVID, therefore during Q4 2020 it was necessary to make organisational changes to reflect the size of the business.

A strong focus on Business Development is required during 2021.

RP suggested that there may be an opportunity to pay OKF a dividend. To be discussed further.

Action: OKF and Datopian to discuss a dividend from Datopian 2020 profits.

RP confirmed plans to close the GmbH entity. RP gave a huge thank you and acknowledgement to VAB for her contribution as the OKF Board representative.


RP advised the rest of the Board members that he is stepping down from the OKF Board.