Since there are many ways to interact with our site, we have defined some terms to clear things up:
The word we will use for "someone who contributes to a project" is "contributor". The buttons on tiers will say "contribute".
People are individuals. Individuals create accounts on our site in order to form or donate to initiatives inside the Open Collective Foundation.
A company that supports an initiative financially, often at a higher tier. This is often called sponsorship in practice, but can go by other names depending on the Collective's context, such as base supporters, members, etc.
Sponsors often represent companies with accounting and reporting needs. They may want brand exposure, access to or goodwill from a community, tangible benefits like support, or help with their recruiting efforts.
Supports an initiative financially, with a repeating or one-off contribution.
They arrive at a initiative many ways:
Direct link to a Collective
Our blog or newsletter
An individual who requests payment from an initiative's budget using the expense function. This might be for reimbursement for purchases made on behalf of the initiative or could be financial compensation for work completed (you can upload an invoice or create one on our site when you submit an expense.)
An individual who creates or works on an initiative. After talking with our team, organizers will determine if they are creating a 'Fund' or a 'Collective'.
Individuals who are major contributors and represent the Collective with their face on the Collective's page as part of the team.
A type of Core Contributor with additional permissions, so they can edit the Collective, change settings, approve expenses, make financial contributions to other Collectives, and receive messages from people trying to contact the Collective.
Core Contributors want to make their communities sustainable financially, so receiving financial contributions is first on their priority list. They use tools like tiers, goals, and social media sharing. They are interested in managing and growing their communities by creating events and sending updates.
Individuals who register to attend a Collective's event. They often arrive through a direct link provided by the event organizers. They want a smooth, hassle-free experience, clear information about the event, and ideally a pathway to stay in touch or become contributors.
Initiatives are the accounts for projects/groups that are hosted by the Open Collective Foundation. An initiative can be either a Collective or a Fund. As part of your application process, our team will discuss with you which is the correct account type for your project.
A Collective represents a project or group that has a mission or purpose in the world, which they raise and spend funds transparently to achieve.
Funds is a way to manage grant-making initiatives on Open Collective. Funds is designed for larger initiatives who need a simple, scaled back way to receive and disburse financial contributions. Know how much money the fund has, approve or invite grant requests, easily request disbursements from your charitable fund.
Funds allows for more customization in the transparency of your initiative. This is a great way to issue grants to recipients of emergency aid, human rights activists and censorship targets, for example, for whom more privacy is essential.
It's also perfect for initiatives who want it to be easier to distribute money outside of Open Source Collective- Funds is the best way to manage your FOSS support fund to projects in or out of your OSC fund since you'll only need to deal with one vendor (us!). With Funds, we can now offer more flexibility for managing finances and expenses
There are two types of payouts that submitters can receive: Expenses (e.g. Invoices and Reimbursements) and Grants
In contrast to a grant, which primarily benefits the recipient, an expense payment (e.g. Invoices and Reimbursements) generally benefits the payor organization. Such payments include salaries and wages paid to employees of the organization, and payments made to independents contractors, vendors, and consultants who provide services to the organization. These payments are considered taxable income, and a 1099 would need to be issued to any independent contractors.
Generally, a payment to an individual is considered a grant where the payment itself furthers a charitable purpose, and the grantor is only involved in administering and monitoring the grant. If a payment to an individual is properly classified as a grant, it will be treated as a gift and will be excluded from that individual's taxable income.
Examples of grants include:
A scholarship or fellowship grant to be used by the individual for study at an educational institution.
A cash prize or award recognizing an individual's past accomplishment in a particular field.
A payment to an impoverished individual for food, clothing, housing, transportation, or other necessities.
A fellowship grant that enables an individual to achieve a specific objective, produce a report or other similar product, or improve or enhance a literary, artistic, musical, scientific, teaching, or other similar capacity, skill, or talent.
In other words, your initiative could make a grant to an individual so that they could spend a summer learning how to code. You could also award a fellowship to an individual to work for a software project for a period of time to improve their coding skills, or to complete a piece of software.
*Please note, the Request a Grant feature is not yet available to all groups and is still in beta testing, so this feature is subject to change.
A Fiscal Host or Sponsor is a type of Organization.
Fiscal hosting enables Collectives and Funds to transact financially without needing to legally incorporate. A fiscal host is a legal company or individual who holds a Collective’s funds in their bank account, and can generate invoices and receipts for Financial Contributors. You can think of a fiscal host as an umbrella organization for the Collectives in it.
Read more about Fiscal Hosting on the next page