Hey folks - Pia Mancini from Open Collective. We’ve created several organizations including, a C corp, a trade association (c6) and a charity (c3) - I’d be more than happy to join a call / discussion and share my experience with all these entities. Hopefully it’ll help you through the process. Either ping me email@example.com or snatch a time calendly.com/piamancini/call Cheers EDIT: Also happy to post here if you have specific questions right now that are blocking your process.
This announcement seemed particularly off-colour for the Software Freedom Conservancy. I read about it in their email announcement, sent by Deb Nicholson. From the SFC email:
However, their technical fellow Bradley Kuhn tends to be down on trade association “foundations”. In a post about the Linux Foundation community bridge:
And in a post about the launch of the Node Foundation, “Trade Foundations are Never Neutral”:
Obviously the official announcement of the new trade-association-as-Foundation is going to be upbeat, it would be unpolitic to do otherwise. However I got the strong impression that rather than listening to the words I should be listening to the morse code they tapped out on the arm of the chair they’re tied to. The subtext is almost literally “we realised that we don’t want to be forced to act in the public interest, we want to be forced to act in the interest of our sponsors”.
Hey leeg, I’m the founder of Clojurists Together, secretary, and treasurer. You raise quite a few different points which I want to address, but most importantly I’d like to push back on this:
Let me state unequivocally that we are not leaving the SFC because we want to act more in the interest of our corporate members. We have never had any of our members ask for any kind of undue influence over our actions. We send quarterly surveys to all members to hear from everyone. We have the same board and election structure as a trade association as we did under Conservancy: we don’t have any classes of board seats for company members, and every member gets one ballot (ranked choice voting) for board elections, whether they are a developer giving $5/month or a company giving $1,000/month.
I’m not sure I agree with all of this framing. We are leaving the SFC so that we can offer different kinds of grants, so that we can accept payments via Stripe, and so that we can turn around contracts and payments quickly to the projects we fund. We haven’t had any discussions about for-profit companies influencing the work that we do. “direct control over their assets and operations to accomplish this work with their own timescale and procedures” is accurate. The SFC required review and approval over all contracts that we gave to projects as part of maintaining their 501(c)3 status. This is a reasonable thing to ask for, but could take some time depending on the SFC workload. They also reimbursed payments on a NET-30 schedule which is again reasonable but meant that payments were slower.
Ultimately Clojurists Together as a grant-making organisation wasn’t a good fit for Conservancy as we grew and wanted to offer more grants. Every quarter we asked the SFC to do a ton of work to review new projects and onboard new people to pay. As a trade association, we will be able to reduce context switching by having one organisation select a project, write the contract, approve the worklogs, and make the payments.
Trade associations vs charitable organisations
I’ve been meaning to write an article about this, but this can serve as a first draft. When we were looking to leave the SFC we looked at lots of options including joining Open Collective, Community Bridge, forming our own 501(c)3, and forming our own 501(c)6.
I’d agree with Bradley that there can be problems with a trade association foundation. However I don’t think that all trade associations foundations are problematic, though different people may disagree on that point.
Thanks, that’s useful additional information beyond what was in the announcement. I appreciate you taking the time to explain it, which you didn’t need to do, and happy to hear that you’ll continue to support the community.
This is key here - the Open Source Collective is a 501c6 and its members are the open source projects themselves, organized as collectives. So it’s not true that c6s always serve corporate owners that control the board, it depends on how you define who your members are.
If there’s interest, I can share the OSC 1024 filing.