Donate to the SRCF

Before you donate...

Since we provide everything for free, we heavily rely on the kind donations from our members.

Our donations are steadily falling and less than 0.1% of our total membership donate. Please chip in if you like what we do or find our services valuable to you.

Targets & goals
  • £75 of monthly income for essential upkeep and maintenance of our hardware
  • Purchase of 4 AMD EPYC servers that will:
    • provide a much-needed refresh to our 8+ year old cluster
    • improve performance, ecofriendliness and space-efficiency of our servers
    • allow us to scale up our video conferencing in order to support the virtual freshers fair at the start of October, enable remote teaching/learning, and group projects running over the summer [editor's note: we wound down our first attempt at a video conferencing platform, called Timeout, in May 2021, although a future video conferencing platform deployment project has not been ruled out]
    • considerably reduce maintenance costs in the long run
Benefits

We intend to mention all donors on our donors page however the automation for this is currently broken. We're working to get it running again and intend to add historic donors we've missed so please include a note when you donate if you want to be anonymous.

For cumulative donations (made in one-off or per-monthly donations) which amount to a value greater than £30, we intend to mention you in our message-of-the-day which is visible on our website and on login to our servers; implementing this is an ongoing project too.

Donate online :tada:

Donations are processed via PayPal, but a PayPal account is not needed. If you can, support us monthly to ensure greater financial stability. Thanks :tada:!

More donation information :tada:

If you can't donate online you can

  • opt for a bank transfer (better! since we pay no fees to PayPal)
  • sponsor us (if you're a company)
  • donate decommissioned or spare hardware
  • become a volunteer system administrator (and learn valuable skills!)

Also reach out if you wish to donate a large sum (>£250).

For interested donors :tada:

Please read on to find out why you should donate and why your donations are so valuable to us.

The Cambridge University Student-Run Computing Facility (SRCF) is a volunteer-run provider of free, useful and flexible computing and networking services some of which include web hosting for 800+ groups, mailing lists, shell access, and a general sandbox for people interested in Linux/UNIX/BSD systems. It is the de-facto computer science and technology society and we are guided by the tenets of proper system administration and Free Open-Source Software.

What we're working on (and where your money goes):

  • essential upkeep and maintenance of our hardware
  • fixed costs such as the srcf.net domain
  • upgrading the software running on its servers
  • upgrading its 8+ year old servers and internals
  • testing and launching various tools for society and group remote collaboration
  • investigating many potential new services related to for example, software development
  • training and social events, such as hackdays and outreach

If you are an individual or a group and you think what we do is cool, consider donating out of goodwill and shared passion for computing and technology. We stand on the shoulders of many giants, those originally involved in the Xen Project, for example, and we believe that we are a useful educational resource for both users and our system administrators. Thus, we have a duty to continue to show people what powers an increasingly important part of our daily lives and by supporting the SRCF, you can continue to guarantee that students get a first-hand look into many of the core tools and principles of today's tech world.

If you are a company (or know one) and are interested in partnering with or sponsoring us, we offer a dedicated mailing list, a sponsors page and a chance to showcase your brand on our website, which may be viewed by our 2500+ active users. We have in the past successfully provided employment opportunities to companies, as our users are likely to be familiar with Linux, networking, programming and related useful skills.

Direct any and all queries to treasurer@srcf.net please.

Financial situation

Income

Since 2006, our donations have sharply fallen.

Graph of SRCF finances since 2006, sharp decline evident

To put this into perspective, in 2018 when 9 members donated (higher than average), that amount is still not enough to cover over 2000 active monthly users and host 800+ group websites. As you can also see above, our donations fluctuate wildly and are generally decreasing, a model that is highly unsustainable.

Without any external help, the SRCF must rely on donations. It does not charge membership fees and likely never will.

Costs

The SRCF has fixed and dynamic costs, which it covers using its donation income.

  • Carrying on from 2019, our costs in only the last three months totaled around £400, making our current financial approach highly unsustainable.
  • It has survived for so many years due to the expert knowledge of kind volunteers and generous donations. 20% of the SRCF’s current funds have come from one donation. Again, a model that is highly unsustainable.
  • Hardware malfunctions and breaks down. These need to be replaced as soon as possible and require immediate access to funds. Without this, the SRCF’s services would be greatly degraded.
Limitations
  • The SRCF is looking to offer even more features and expand but cannot do so without additional funds.
  • The SRCF needs a stable amount of reserves, as many other societies do, to recover in case of major damage to our systems.
  • Our reserves are presently not enough to cover for permanent damage to our equipment, ongoing maintenance and other costs we incur.

FAQ

Why should I donate?

The SRCF has been run by the goodwill of many sysadmin and committee volunteers over the last 20 years. Out of the three hosting options listed here, we are the only ones that remain. We dedicate lots of time to addressing security risks, ensuring regular upkeep, testing and launching new services and providing user support. We will always use your money to directly benefit our users and we would love to see the SRCF grow just as much as you do. Regular donations are the best way to accomplish this.

Do you incur any processing fees?

Yes, the main consideration for us is processing fees. A high percentage of small (<£3) donations is eaten by PayPal in processing fees. The fees that are applied to your donation are 3.4% + 0.2p.

What does this mean for my group account?

Your society or group may incurs costs, and so does ours. Web hosting is a fixed cost for companies around the world, so we recommend you set aside part of your budget (if you have one) for an annual donation to the SRCF. With direct access to the Cambridge University Data Network, a shell account, file storage, email, mailing lists, and so on it’s unlikely you’ll find a better deal than ours :) We recommend donating £50 or more.

More information on finances

Overview

Excluding outreach, SRCF funds can be split up into:

  1. Emergency expenditure: replacement of failed hardware, essential maintenance
  2. Regular expenditure:srcf.net” and other domains
  3. Reserves: essential money kept aside as "insurance", it is used for emergencies such as severe water damage, theft, natural disasters, etc where our hardware is severly impacted.
  4. One-off expenditure: upgrades to our hardware, such as new servers

The SRCF has at present no regular source of income. It instead relies on user donations which are highly variable in quantity and increasingly few. It also depends on server donations to keep it running.

State of finances

The SRCF currently has just enough funds to cover its reserves and regular expenditure but lacks funds to finance immediate and one-off expenditures.

Type Can cover? Estimated cost (£) Consequences if not met
Emergency No 400 p.a Risk degraded or a complete loss of services if hardware malfunctions
Regular Yes 30 p.a Lose online presence
Reserves Yes, just 5000 SRCF permanently goes away
One-off No depends on donations Machines grow increasingly old and poor in performance, higher maintenance costs

A lot of the hardware is donated, which means the machines are old in the first place, so lack of upgrades brings a whole host of troubles: CPU vulnerabilities, loss of performance, power inefficiency, etc.

Worth noting that with further upgrades, maintenance costs fall as newer hardware is less likely to suffer as many failures.
Current hardware

As hardware is our main asset (we use mostly open source!), you can find a list of our hardware here to help inform your decision to contribute.