Open Source Collective Update #3

From our June 2019 board meeting

Open Source Collective Update #3

From our June 2019 board meeting

The Open Source Collective is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization the serves as a fiscal sponsor to over 1,300 open source projects on Open Collective. We believe in transparency, so we’re publishing regular recaps of what happens in our board meetings. For more details, like who’s on the board and a detailed transparent budget, please see our Collective page.

Recent Financials


Balance: $129,565

April: $15,050
May: $10,875
(mainly from host fees)

April: $3,550
May: $4,700

  • $2,500/mo for Executive Director role (Alanna)
  • $1,000 toward animated explainer video (coming in July)
  • $1,560 to accountants (catching up on old invoices + annual accounts)

Financial process improvements

We have started using Xero to help track manual payments arriving in the bank account by direct transfer (not via Open Collective platform), and for invoicing. Will help us apply funds to Collectives quicker.

We’ve turned on the bank transfer payment method for Open Source Collective as an experiment. If users select it, they will be sent bank transfer info. It creates a pending order in the system which we can mark as paid when the funds arrive.

We are looking into more options for handling funds, including Stripe invoices (to automate incoming bank transfers) and prepaid credit cards for Collectives to use on expenses when fees are prohibitive.

Back Your Entire Stack

Work underway on a new subscription offering, where companies sign up to financially support their entire open source stack, and we distribute the funds. We want to offer a badge for sponsors to their participation.

Fiscal hosting policy

The ‘party line’ is that OSC only hosts groups directly producing open source software. But in practice, there have been a number of exceptions made, such as SustainOSS and the Sydney Drupal Users Group, which are open source related but focused on events.

We need a clear policy specifying how wide we can open the OSC umbrella. For example, Drupal groups outside the US who host events and conferences want to come on board, but it’s not clear if we can host them.

How do we manage and assess risk? Conferences are riskier, but we have had some groups run events already without issues. Maybe meetups are OK, but what is the boundary between a ‘meetup’ and a ‘conference’?

This also pertains to our activities with Open Source Community Africa, whose groups we are hosting, and other similar groups in Africa who want in.

The Next Billion Creators: Open Source Community Africa.
Driving the open source movement in the continent.

The board felt they did not have enough information to make decisions at this time, so Pia and Alanna will be pulling together a board paper in the next couple weeks, breaking down what the terms of fiscal sponsorship as written allow, and what questions we need to answer.


We are progressing our idea to decentralize SustainOSS and invite local champions to host events in their city, with support from us with a toolkit, promo help, fiscal hosting, etc. Need to clarify whether we can host international SustainOSS event groups in OSC. We have a SustainOSS planning meeting next week.

Industry Survey on Open Source Support

We have developed a questionnaire about financial support of open source, which we want to send to open source liaisons and advocates at companies, or CTOs if they don’t have such a role, the help establish some norms. We have hired someone to compile a small database of about 100 contacts in the top tech companies, and Pia will follow up with calls for more detailed discussions with those who are willing.

Tax form project budget

We are required to collect W9 or W8 BEN/E tax forms from everyone who invoices over $600. Currently we are doing this more or less manually, getting people to scan and email them in, and it’s not working. We missed a bunch of forms in 2018. So the OC engineering team is building an automated system that will allow users to submit their forms online and track which user accounts need a form and which have or don’t have one on file.

Right now Open Source Collective is the only fiscal host that needs this feature, as the others mainly pay expense reimbursements, not invoices. So it makes sense that the budget for the project from from OSC instead of general OC inc. funds.

Decision: OSC will pay the ~$4,000 budget for the new tax form system.

Branding project update

Waiting on Open Collective Design to come through with some options for the board to give feedback on. Hopefully will have something to show soon.

Maintainer support calls

We’ve decided to move forward with an initial maintainer support call, in partnership with Richard from Maintainer Mountaineer. He is working on a guest post for our blog to announce this soon. We’ll start with one call and ask people who attend what they would like out of future calls and what format that they think works best. Henry has been advising on this as well.

Check in on survey priorities

What Core Contributors Want
Results from our survey of open source maintainers

We’re not really addressing the top priorities from the core contributor survey in a direct way, but we are making indirect progress.

  • Back Your Entire Stack will hopefully reduce the need for Collectives to market themselves; instead they will get funding from companies who have them as a dependency.
  • We are always working in the background to bring in more sponsors.
  • We tried to host an event to bring maintainers and sponsors together in person around JSconf EU, but it didn’t pan out due to lack of someone local who could host it. We’ll try to have such an event in the future but it’s not currently prioritized. Justin thinks Stackshare could be a potential co-host.
  • We’ll ask about sponsors’ desire to connect personally with maintainers when we do the industry survey and followup conversations.

We intend to check back in on this next meeting to see if we need to refocus, or if our prioritization of work is paying off.

Previous update

Open Source Collective Update #2
From our May 2019 board meeting