Open Source Collective Update #11
From our August and October 2020 board meetings.
The Open Source Collective is a non-profit organization serving as a fiscal sponsor to over 2,200 open source projects on Open Collective. We believe in transparency, so we’re publishing regular recaps of what happens in our board meetings.
These figures are approximate—see our full transparent budget here.
Operations budget balance: $247,000
Funds held for Collectives: ~$3,000,000
Income: $79,000 (mainly host fees)
Expenses: $45,000 (staff: $35,500, accounting: $3,200, legal: $1,600)
OSC Executive Director Alanna gave a talk about OSC at the Open UP Summit:
- FOSS Contributor Funds at OSI State of the Source
- Open Source in Business: The Labor Economics of Open Source
- Pia Mancini and Vitalik Butterin on Quadratic Funding in Ethereum
Over 300 Collectives have signed up for the integration between OSC and Github to allow people to donate through a sponsor button on their repo and have the funds flow to their Collective. About 50 are getting regular payments.
Unfortunately we've had a number of issues when it comes to getting the information we need from GitHub. There's a data export feature that tells us which Collective to credit which Sponsors payments to, but it's broken. Due to this we haven't been able to allocate September funds to Collectives yet.
Problems were further exacerbated by OSC having to change its bank account number, and therefore require all Sponsors users to update their settings to the new account. It took a long time to get the data we needed to reach out to Collectives using Sponsors about this settings change.
We're working with GitHub to hopefully resolve this issues, and ideally build on what we've learned to expand and improve this integration going forward, and we hope we can get things to a minimally stable state soon.
We owe so much to Richard Littauer and the Sustain Advisory Board for its continued success. Sustain working groups and the Sustain podcast are active and FOSS Responders raised $105,000 to support 10 open source projects through the UPLIFT! event.
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Ford Foundation is supporting Sustain OSS with a grant to further expand its core initiatives through a partnership with the Open Collective Foundation. An MOU between OSC and OCF has been signed for implementation of this project and a steering group has been convened.
Brandies University is offering a Management of Open Source curricula with courses taught from CHAOSS, Google, CNCF, and others. Alyssa is participating in one currently to get a sense for it and network. She has proposed OSC leading a 4 week course on open source sustainability in the future and continues to discuss it with the organizers.
Eric Berry has stepped down from the board due to lack of capacity, and we're beginning to discuss potential new board members.
Holding Non-Monetary Assets
Collectives have inquired about OSC holding non-monetary assets, such as trademarks and hardware, on their behalf. Other fiscal sponsors sometimes offer this service. We've engaged a lawyer to advise us on this possibility and the board supports moving forward with it.
Hosting Projects in Legal Grey Areas
A project involved in reverse engineering proprietary systems and open sourcing the results has applied for fiscal hosting, but notes the risk of the company who owns the proprietary systems suing. In terms of values, we 100% support reverse engineering and hacking within the bounds of the law, but at the same time OSC has very limited resources to defend against a legal action, even if we're technically in the right that the Collective's activities are legal. We can't put OSC at too much risk for one project, because we are responsible to all our Collectives. The board decided to get some legal advice and then consider next steps.
- Big bump in income this period due to $500,000 in funding from Google Open Source (10% of which comes to OSC as fees).
- We've now fully separated Collective funds and operational funds into different bank accounts (previously just tracked on Open Collective) and have a monthly reconciliation process in place.
- We have changed Alyssa, our only full time staff member, from a contractor to an employee, which entailed getting registered and insured as an employer in the state of NY and setting up a payroll system.
- We completed the transition from having a seperate host page and host budget Collective to having one integrated page at opencollective.com/opensource.
- We have been using Loomio quite successfully for board discussion and decision making between meetings.
- We've started working with a new lawyer who specializes in open source and it's going great (we already work with one specialized in nonprofits, so now we have both).