What is the IETF?
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the Internet’s premier technical standards body. For more than 30 years, the IETF has focused on developing timely, relevant, and technically excellent open standards that provide a platform for the continued growth and evolution of the global Internet. IETF standards are the foundation for how billions of people around the world use the Internet every day, and include the protocols underlying email, domain names, the Web, and the Internet itself. Unique among standards organizations, the IETF invites all interested parties to participate and makes every draft and all standards available online without charge.
Why establish an IETF Endowment?
The IETF Community has long sought to secure its own long–term funding. An Endowment is a way to build a lasting and secure source of funds. By law, the principal of the IETF Endowment cannot be used, but the proceeds from the investment of the Endowment funds may be used for the purpose indicated in the Endowment Policy. While the proceeds from the Endowment will not cover all the IETF funding needs in the near future, it will provide a source of funding for some of the coming challenges for the IETF. The Endowment also provides a vehicle for individuals to make legacy contributions to the future of the IETF, which has previously not been available.
How is the IETF currently funded and supported?
The Internet Society (ISOC) provides funding, organizational support, and services to the IETF, including corporate functions, legal and accounting support, policy, outreach, and other educational and administrative functions. As a volunteer organization, the IETF operates on a budget of approximately US$6million per year. This budget funds working meetings of volunteers, the RFC editorial process, the publication of IETF–developed Internet standards, and the development of tools to manage the standards efforts. About two–thirds of annual expenses are funded by meeting hosts and sponsors raised by the Internet Society, plus registration fees paid by participants to attend the in–person meetings. The rest of the budget is funded by direct support from the Internet Society.
What does the IETF intend to do with support from the Endowment?
- Help offset the impact of inflation in meeting costs, and minimize future increases in meeting registration fees;
- Lower barriers to participation, including participation from developing countries, remote meeting technologies, interim working group meetings, and diversity efforts;
- Guard against declining revenue from strategies such as remote participation; and
- Assist in offsetting costs of extraordinary events, such as higher costs of meetings in key venues areas of the world.
What is the funding status and goal for the IETF Endowment?
Recent combined commitments of more than US$3M by AFRINIC, ARIN, RIPE NCC, and the Internet Society—along with previous commitments by individual and organizational donors—have brought the total in investment in the IETF Endowment to more than $3.1 million dollars. This is a significant start towards an initial goal of $20 million. Additional donations are always welcome, and we expect to shortly announce the next phase of the campaign to continue to seek large contributions.
Will the Internet Society continue to provide funding to the IETF?
The Internet Society does not seek to change its long–time support of the IETF, which has continued for almost 25 years. The Internet Society has funded as much as $2 million annually to support the IETF operational needs. However, the Internet Society believes the IETF’s goal to diversify its basis of support is prudent and therefore is supporting establishment of the IETF Endowment.
How does a Contributor know that their Contribution will be used for the IETF?
The IETF Endowment Policy states that contributed funds will be used for the support of the IETF and its activities. In addition, each donor may indicate a directive with the same instructions. Moreover, the Endowment funds must be held in a separate pool of investment assets. Should the IETF cease to function for any reason, the Endowment would be directed to serve a similar purpose.
What is the Endowment Council, and how are members selected?
- Setting performance benchmarks for the investment of the Endowment;
- Selecting and reviewing the performance of the professional Investment Managers;
- Annually establishing the appropriation of Endowment funds for use by the IETF; and
- As needed, making changes to the Endowment Policy.
Why is the Internet Society acting as the Trustee for the Endowment?
The Internet Society (ISOC) acts as the organizational home for the IETF. The Internet Society’s Board is selected by a combination of the IETF, the Internet Society’s Organization Members, and ISOC Chapters around the world. All of these groups have the same goal of protecting and advancing the work of the IETF. Therefore, the Internet Society is the natural home for the Endowment. The Internet Society Board of Trustees has the fiduciary duty to protect the corpus of the Endowment and to determine the investment parameters and appropriate distribution of funds from the Endowment proceeds.
What would happen if the IETF was unable to use funds from the Endowment?
The Endowment Policy states: “The Endowment funds are to be used for the exclusive support of the IETF and its activities.” Should the IETF be precluded from the use of the funds for any reason, the Internet Society Board would be legally required to apply available Endowment proceeds to a similar use, in consultation with the Endowment Council.