Open Collective Europe: A new approach for the digital commons

Open Collective Europe: A new approach for the digital commons

Open Collective Europe has set out to achieve the sustainability of the social and solidarity economy as well as open source technologies. Our mission is to enable initiatives to raise and spend money transparently under a common umbrella nonprofit.

At the beginning of 2022, we shared our desire to grow the Open Collective Europe community. Our goal is to make the community more vibrant, supported and resilient. We set out to build a more comprehensive fiscal hosting service and support system for our collectives.

To do this, we acknowledge we needed to get better at managing our constellation of entities in Europe. We started by merging with Open Collective Brussels and Open Collective Paris with the goal of facilitating access to the Open Collective platform + non profit status throughout Europe. These mergers are part of a wider European strategy for Open Collective that has the social and solidarity economy as our guiding principles.

When we started building Open Collective in Europe, we always sought to support initiatives aimed at bringing social added value to society. Open Collective's technology provides a simple and effective way for these initiatives to self-organize and focus on their social impact. Since we started, we have seen many social impact initiatives, which in their own way have helped others. We want to continue expanding this movement.

A global strategy for Europe

Our strategy for 2022  strengthens our core value proposition: give access to funding through the Open Collective platform to socio-cultural and open source projects across Europe. As a fiscal host, we are expanding to offer support  to collectives wishing to raise and spend grants, public subsidies, and tax deductible donations.

We are setting up to support many different collectives.  Not all initiatives have the same needs. Some projects need to be up and running quickly because they are crisis responders while others need stability and long-term support. Others arise to serve a purpose and need to be able to wind down easily after their goal is met. We want to see all types of projects operating easily and transparently.

This is what we will be doing this year:

  • Collectives can apply for public subsidies both in the EU as well as local funds. (We’ll roll out countries in phases)
  • Collectives will be able to offer tax deductible receipts to donors in different countries.
  • We are developing a cooperative structure in which community and shared governance are at the forefront of our priorities.
  • We are rethinking our own organization in order to achieve better stability and sustainability.

What we have done so far...

Since 2018, we have given access to the platform to hundreds of collectives across Europe. We’ve helped projects to organize crisis fundraising campaigns, such as help open source contributors to escape Afghanistan, or the current fundraising for Ukraine, receive public funds and grow their community.

Our fiscal sponsorship service now hosts over 300 socio-cultural and open-source initiatives. This service allows each collective to behave like a non-profit association, without going through the process of incorporating as a legal entity. In practice, this is made possible by:

  • Managing financial flows & expenses
  • Managing applications
  • Managing legal & tax related issues
  • User support and responding to inquiries
  • Working with the OC team to pass on user feedback and work together on features

2022 started with a bang! We are now offering:

  • Virtual Cards: Want to make purchases online without needing to pay yourself and then submit an expense for reimbursement? Use a card linked directly to your Open Collective balance.
  • GitHub Sponsors: This feature allows you to receive your GitHub Sponsors contributions in your open collective. We recently enabled it on OC Europe.
  • PayPal donations and payouts
  • Tax deductible receipts for Belgian donors

What’s next?

  • The possibility of receiving public subsidies in Belgium, France, Spain and Germany (btw: collectives can already receive EU subsidies through OC Europe)
  • Tax deductible donation for most EU donors
  • Updated documentation
  • New graphic identity and new website
A preview of the new Open Collective logo, which we developed in collaboration with some of the Open Collective Europe collectives. We based the conceptualization on the concentric circles' idea, conveying solidarity, togetherness, and autonomy (Every project on its track).

Three strategic areas

A Global Approach: Tax deductible donations, subsidies and grants in Europe.

At the moment, OC Europe offers a simple and transparent solution for collecting donations from a wide range of countries, regardless of their currency. For the time being, only donors from Belgium are eligible to receive a receipt in order to obtain a tax advantage on their donations. Our goal is to offer this feature to donors anywhere in Europe so that they can make a donation directly to your collective, while benefiting from tax advantages in their country of residence. We will provide them with the tax certificates for the countries concerned.

This is not an easy task to achieve as each European country works in a different way on this issue. Nevertheless, we hope to make progress in this area in the coming months.

Regarding public subsidy applications, collectives hosted by Open Collective Europe can apply for European subsidies. Collectives based in Belgium can also apply for national and regional subsidies. In the coming months, we will give the possibility to French, German and Spanish collectives to receive national or regional subsidies through OC Europe.

As far as foundation grants are concerned, all collectives hosted by Open Collective Europe can already apply for grants (regardless of the country of the Foundation).

If you wish to apply for public subsidies or grants with your collective or a project that is starting up, please contact us.

A shared network across Europe

Open Collective Europe is an association based in Belgium. Until now, its governance has not been at the forefront of our communication, with no real vision of cooperation with the community. We are changing that.

Over the last few months, we have been reflecting on how to integrate a more participatory governance in order to adopt an approach centered on the community of collectives, rather than on the sole leadership of the board. In order to make this possible, we are working on three areas:

  • Redesigning the Board of Directors to include key players in the development of Open Collective in Europe. These actors will come from the Open Collective sphere, but also from the world of philanthropy and open source in Europe.
  • Developing a network of ambassadors across Europe to organize regular events in different countries. The aim is also to understand the particularities and needs of the collectives depending on the country in which they are based in Europe. Stay tuned for our updates on for more info.
  • Organizing regular meetings between the collective community and the management of Open Collective Europe.

Towards organizational sustainability

Since the launch of Open Collective Europe, we have witnessed an increasing growth in the number of projects and the revenue generated. Although the increase in the Association's income is not an end in itself, this growth allows us to envisage the future of the Association more serenely. This is essential to offer a more qualitative support service to the collectives.

We believe that expanding our offer will allow us to increase our revenue and support collectives in the long term. Moreover, Open Collective Inc. is committed to our growth and it is seeding Open Collective Europe with enough funding to enable us to scale.

Join us in Paris to shape the future of Open Collective Europe!

We are organizing a meeting in Paris to meet with our community and speak about the digital commons. The event will start at 5pm and will include the presence of several actors who participate in the construction of the digital commons in France as well as Open Collective and Open Collective Europe members.

If you are interested in the existing infrastructure for the digital commons, or just want to meet the community that is shaping Open Collective Europe, this event is for you!

Address: Salle de conférence du Urban Lab - 48 Rue René Clair, 75018 Paris, France

Date: 24 May 2022, 5-8pm

More details coming soon...