I had a good conversation with Ryan Levick (the core team's representative on the Foundation board) about my last blog post, between that and some more thinking, I'd like to refine and clarify some of what I said in the post.
First off, a bunch of things in the post is not new stuff, but stuff the Foundation is already doing or starting to do and I think it is important for it to continue doing.
Some specific things:
employ full- and part-time maintainers
I appreciate that different people have different requirements and desires around work, so I think the Foundation should be maximally flexible here. Offering ongoing employment, or recurring or temporary contracts. These could be for small or large amounts of work, from full-time to four hours per week or whatever. The key point here is the consistency and reliability (though being able to support a large amount of work is an important advantage over the current grants).
I would like to see the grants scheme dropped
OK, so this was maybe a little extreme. I do think the grant scheme as it currently exists should not exist, and I think that the vast majority of money the Foundation spends directly on people in the community should be in the form of contracts or employment rather than grants. In particular, for supporting maintainers (which I think should be the primary goal), a smaller number of larger contracts are better than a large number of small grants. But I think there is a place for a small number of grants.
Importantly, those grants should be intentional and strongly targetted to improve the state of the community and project. I think good uses of grants would be to improve diversity in the community (i.e., paying new contributors from under-represented groups to contribute, and support them towards becoming core members of the community), something like a paid internship for under-resourced teams, or targetted projects which would not otherwise happen and where there is a clear need (e.g., writing documentation on a specific topic which is currently missing).
Keeping volunteers happy and motivated is also a good use for grants, but I think that this should a small proportion of grants and should again be targetted at volunteers doing the unglamorous and under-resourced work.
I'd also like the Foundation to expand its role in the project's governance.
The project is organisationally in a bad place and the Foundation can help improve things. The Foundation has the resources in terms of money and people's experience to be useful here. However, this is difficult because those resources need to be applied in the context of a culture which the Foundation has had difficulty adapting to. Ideally I'd like to see the Foundation maintain it's unique perspective and position (experience from wider fields, close contact with industry, somewhat separate from the Rust project's bubble and cliques, but with a shared purpose) but move closer to the project in terms of collaboration and shared values.