Why do you need to fundraise for a company that makes so much money?

11 08 2009

While some might think that the new job didn’t start until I walked through the doors of the Mozilla office, I found my work started early my first day at US customs when the agent, upon asking who I worked for and what I did for them, asked very directly “Why does a company that makes so much money need to fundraise?” Her question is valid, one I’ve heard before, expect to hear again and will be answering with increasing articulation in the coming months.

The short answer I gave the agent is that I work for the Mozilla Foundation and that seemed to satisfy her enough to let me through. I didn’t think she needed to know the history of Mozilla, how it was a foundation first, how the mission of Mozilla Company and Foundation is, in fact, a social mission and how the Foundation supports the mission through grants, governance, promotion and as a steward for the open web.

I suppose I could have told her that I’m not just raising money for Mozilla. I’m not just raising money for Firefox, Thunderbird or the supercool things going on in Mozilla Labs. I’m raising money for the Mozilla mission so that we can grant money and raise awareness for other groups like OneWebDay so they can promote and protect the open web.

I thought that the next time I went to Mountain View I would tell the customs agents about some of the ideas brewing for telling the community and the public at large about the kinds of open source projects going on out there and how I’d like to make it even easier for people of all levels of technical proficiency to heart the open web.

Instead, I encountered the very same customs agent today when I went for my Nexus interview. She remembered me and remembered that I was a fundraiser and marketer for Mozilla. Most interestingly she told me that my occupation had been entered into the system incorrectly. She told me that I had been listed as a “Fun Raiser” which, when you think about Mozilla and our community really isn’t that far off the mark.

Now it’s just a question of what photo goes with that for the back of my business cards.

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