Free/Libre/Open Source Software Foundations

In January 2005, David Ascher, Bradley Kuhn, Allison Randal, Sam Ruby, and a handful of others met and talked about the Python Software Foundation, Apache Software Foundation, Free Software Foundation, and Perl Foundation. As they talked, they realized the organizations they participated in were all doing similar things in various different ways. Some ways are more efficient than others, some are easier to maintain, and some don't quite work but people keep doing them because they haven't found a better way. This small group found it incredibly valuable to share their experiences, their plans, their hopes, their disappointments. So valuable, that they decided to invite a larger group to join them in a series of meetings focused on FLOSS community leadership. A few months later, Dave Neary reached out to Nathan Torkington, Allison Randal, Danese Cooper, and Ton Roosendaal about starting up a series of meetings and a mailing list for free software and open source foundations. The two groups joined forces, and held the first FLOSS Foundations meeting at OSCON 2005.

From these small beginnings, we've grown to a group of 300 members representing over 50 different free software and open source organizations and projects. The FLOSS Foundations group is intentionally not an incorporated entity. Instead, it's a forum and a resource for "people who get stuff done" to join, get in contact, and tap the collective knowledge and experience of others in similar roles across the FLOSS community. The mailing list has seen a great deal of discussion over its lifetime, covering a broad range of topics including reasons to create an entity for a FLOSS project and reasons not to, fundraising, who a good lawyer might be, event planning gotchas and codes-of-conduct, social protection for foundation employees, good trademark policies, contribution policies, and fostering diversity.

The process for joining the group is simple: just join the mailing list.

Should I Start A Non-Profit Organization (NPO) for my FLOSS Project?

Should I Start A Non-Profit Organization (NPO) for my FLOSS Project?

Most FLOSS projects probably *could* benefit from the structure and services
that a NPO could provide. However, whether or not you need to start your own
NPO to gain these services is a different question. We'll try to address both
issues in this document.


- Ability to raise funds more easily/effectively
- They can give donors a tax benefit, and avoiding taxes on funds raised
- It may help them create a governance structure

Meet the Funders Planning Page

Purpose: Spread the word about free software among the large foundations that fund nonprofit work.

The plan:

Hold a "Meet the Funders" Event.

  • Have two events, one in the Bay area (target companies and some Foundations) and one in the New York City area (target Foundations like the Ford Foundation.)
  • Have one of the funders open the event.

FLOSS Foundations Software Project

FLOSS Foundations spawned off a software project (of sorts). If you are interested in software systems to help in the management of non-profit organizations, join the Foundations Software list.

Best of the Foundations mailing list

Over the years, many subjects have come up on the foundations mailing list which have resulted in discussion, argument and shared experiences. This page is a link to the origin of those mailing list discussions in the archives, with the general topic of the discussion. Ideally, we would have pages summarising these discussions into a coherent whole. We could turn it into a book ;) This list is up to date as of April 2008.
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