Open Source Collective's Strategy 2022-2025
In this post we outline the strategy for Open Source Collective, our five-year-old host organisation that now supports over 3,000 projects and their communities.
Open Source Collective is a non-profit working for the common interests of those who create and use open source software. We exist to promote a sustainable and healthy ecosystem, and to sustain open source technology for the future.
Since 2017, Open Source Collective (OSC) has worked tirelessly to advance the sustainability of open source software. OSC takes a practical approach to address the many and varied challenges that we’ve collectively identified over the years: we’ve co-created a platform for projects to manage their finances, we’ve helped projects raise financial support through campaigns and initiatives, and we’ve built a global community of collaborators. Our most successful project, and the core of our organisation, is our fiscal hosting program, which provides a legal and financial home to over 3,000 open source projects and their communities.
Five years later OSC is a sustainable non-profit organisation that provides value to thousands of open source maintainers and funders, receiving over $12M USD on behalf of projects in 2021. We’ve welcomed a host of organisations working to make open source a financially sustainable and independent prospect for maintainers and contributors. This growth now allows us a greater degree of freedom to focus on future efforts and investments, to play to our strengths, and to be more active in the challenges that we choose to address.
As a result, we spent the later part of 2021 asking ourselves the big questions, re-assessing Open Source Collective’s core mission, values, and focus areas, set in our growing community. We asked ourselves how we could improve what we already offer and where we’re well-placed to take on important issues. This post is the product of months of conversation among our board, our team, and our community.
Our strategy continues to focus on people and our fiscal hosting program, with low barriers to entry and a high degree of transparency. At the broadest level, we will make three strategic investments in the coming years, investing in:
- Developing the relationships with and between members of our community,
- Technologies enabling an ecosystem-wide approach to supporting open source software,
- Tools and processes to better understand the impact of investing in open source.
We are actively working toward a world in which it is as rewarding and financially secure to build and maintain software for the commons as it is for corporations.
Our vision compels us to be active participants in creating the change that we wish to see in the world. We are both members and guardians of a community that builds solutions to the problems we face—we are not researchers, we are not policymakers, most importantly we are not driven by profit. We are hackers who live at the intersection of technology, finance, legal structures, and the community.
What we believe
Strength lies in community
We believe that strength comes from broad and diverse community-centred approaches. We encourage individuals to distribute responsibilities and resources and to invest in building communities.
People are more important than code
Open source software is a product of active communities, of people working toward a common goal. As a result, we prioritise the needs of people first.
One size does not fit all
Open Source Collective empowers communities to decide what is best for their project. We do not impose unnecessary structure, process, or statute on you and your community.
Solving problems together
We are a community of communities. We believe that we can address many of the problems we face by working together. We solve problems from within, in order to benefit everyone.
Our Focus Areas
An ecosystem-wide approach to supporting open source software
Open Collective has built a platform for communities to collectively gather and manage their money, but the ways in which financial contributors select projects to support have resulted in a huge discrepancy between marketable projects and those that lie deep inside the core of the open source sphere.
This has something to do with how commercial organizations justify their financial contributions, but it also has a lot to do with the technical challenges of understanding which projects we rely on and how we can best support them. This is as true for financial contributors as it is for the projects seeking to receive their support.
In the last year, we have seen companies and open source projects take the initiative, implementing their own takes on supporting their dependencies. We want to enable many more to do the same, so this year we will be making significant investments in technologies to distribute funds more broadly, and to support one another as a single, open source community.
Our objective is to reduce the Gini index in open source, to ensure adequate provision for projects at the core and the edges alike, in a graph defined by the explicit links between projects and their dependencies and the implicit links between software and the standards and protocols that they implement.
Enable projects to use their money as well as raise it
2021 was an incredible year for our projects, and we expect to see yet more major financial support for open source in 2022. Despite this, we still see communities struggling to overcome the understandable and relatable barriers to utilising money as a resource in their project.
This year, OSC will improve our documentation, co-creating guidance for projects to put in place the necessary governance to use money effectively. We'll also be providing opportunities for projects to utilize their money to build capacity, bringing in and developing new skills within the broader community.
Our objective is to increase the percentage of financial contributions that are being actively used by communities to build and maintain their projects, while increasing the skills and confidence of our community members in the area of spending funds.
Make financially contributing to open source not only a good business decision, but an easy one
Over the last five years, we have seen a huge increase in the number and value of financial contributions to open source by commercial organizations. Many of these companies rationalize their support against investments that could be made in marketing, recruitment and employee retention, or more recently, in supply-chain security.
This year, we’ll be working with Collectives and funders to bridge this divide, providing mechanisms for projects to describe the impact that financial support has had on their project in a way that makes sense at scale for large, corporate supporters. Rather than imposing ‘best practice’ measures and metrics and applying them across the ecosystem, our approach will begin with projects and work up, allowing organizations to align with their own goals
Our objective is to increase, on a company by company basis, the dollar value of financial contributions directed to open source projects.
Help us build this vision
We’re excited to be working toward this vision today, and we’re equally excited to involve you in that.
Join our community
We work in public on GitHub, our community collaborates on our #opensource Slack channel and we host monthly gatherings for members to introduce themselves and discuss the issues they’re facing.
We also discuss the broader challenges of sustaining open source for the future over in the Sustain Discourse forum and host a regular podcast for participants to discuss their work.
Work with us
We’re currently looking for a Senior Product Manager to lead our work with open source funders and communities, we’re looking for Senior, Full-Stack Developers to contribute to the open collective platform and to build out our vision for supporting open source at scale. Read more about our roles here.
If working with us full time isn’t on the cards we regularly publish bounties for contributors and accept contributions from members of the community, labelling good first issues on our main repository.
Finally, we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate. If you’re working to support open source maintainers and contributors, and you think we’d benefit from working together, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay in touch
We regularly post updates on our Collective, sharing videos of and summarising monthly meetings for those who missed our and generally keeping you up to date on our work. We also post significant news over on Open Collective’s blog, as a part of the Open Collective family.