In order to see, how other NICs organise their funding, I have done a survey.
The zone contacts from all national TLDs were asked to complete a short questionaire. The questionaire asked three questions:
136 TLD administrators were approached, 47 responded until Friday, 28th of April noon, GMT+1 DST.
Most NICs considered themselves professional, even if they do the job on part time. This might be a result of unclear questions, as most of the people running NICs are computer and networking professionals, but not neccessarily professionals in the NIC business.
The FTEs working on it ranged from as low as 0.01 up to 9 with an average of ~ 1.4.
Most of the NIC are funded by the government or by some organisation just paying for the manpower, most likely universities. Some NICs are funded by one service provider. No NIC is funded by a user organisation. Only a small fraction of NICs charges the end user or has a provider consortium for the funding in place.
With those results, certainly it will be interesting for the NICs doing their job on part time, or being paid for something else, to look at the German model, if it will work in the future.