OCF seeks to support Collectives to have the greatest potential impact. If you've got a concern or issue, please bring it to us so we can try to help. We're always trying to learn and improve.
If staying with OCF can support you to achieve your Collective's best impact, then we want you to stay. If moving on is what's right for the mission, then that's what should happen.
There are some practical and technical things to understand about the process of leaving OCF.
Project admins are encouraged to schedule an exit interview to support us in evaluating and improving our fiscal sponsorship program with your feedback. During this exit interview, we will also offer space for a retrospective on your time with OCF (What did we do well? What could we have done better?) followed by a brief assessment of your transition plan where we offer feedback on transition strategies and best practices.
If you are moving to a new fiscal sponsor:
- Have you evaluated the services you currently use at OCF to ensure that they are offered by your new fiscal sponsor?
- Have you determined whether you will maintain your Open Collective dashboard for transparent budgeting?
- Have you considered how you will manage transitioning your recurring donations through the platform?
- Have you obtained their IRS determination letter and bank details to submit for final distribution?
If starting your own 501(c)(3):
- Have you identified legal and accounting advisors for your org? Our minimum recommendation would be a CPA and attorney, but orgs with larger budgets might also require a CFO firm.
- Have you considered a payroll provider to support with onboarding, payroll, and benefits?
- Have you set up an accounting system such as Xero or QuickBooks to support you with managing your books? OCF hosted projects can continue to use OC as an independent collective even after transitioning from fiscal sponsorship.
- Do you need an example of an employee manual to support in developing your own?
- Have you obtained an IRS determination letter and bank details to submit for final distribution?
Yes. We won't lock you in. You can close down your Collective, move to a different fiscal sponsor, or incorporate own entity. You can even take your Collective with you when you go, in many cases. However there are some limitations to be aware of (see below).
If we have failed to live up to expectations or alienated someone, that's bad. Or, if an Collective engages in misconduct or breaks policies to the point we can't let them stay, that's bad. Both of these 'failure' modes are exceedingly rare.
In the vast majority of cases, Collectives leave because they are evolving. They need something we can't provide, have founded their own nonprofit, or are winding down the whole project. We don't think these situations are necessarily bad. Projects naturally go through phases and we want to support them through.
OCF is limited by the regulations regarding 501(c)(3) nonprofits—this means we can usually only transfer money to another 501(c)(3).
Once we give a tax deductible receipt for donated funds, we have to ensure they are only spent on allowed 501(c)(3) purposes. We can do that either by holding the funds for you as you spend them down, or by transferring them to another 501(c)(3) entity who is bound to follow the same rules.
If you are moving from OCF to another 501(c)(3)—whether it's a new fiscal sponsor or your own new entity—submit an expense to move your balance over (or invite one if you don't run the other entity), and upload the determination letter as an attachment.
One thing that makes the Open Collective platform unique is that you can unplug a Collective from one Fiscal Host and plug it into another one, without losing your history, community, or recurring contributions.
If you have founded your own 501(c)(3), you can set it up as the Fiscal Host for your Collective going forward, and donations will flow to your bank account instead of OCF's. In that case, you no longer need to pay a Fiscal Hosting fee. Or, if you're joining another fiscal sponsor not yet on Open Collective, they can get set up on the platform and plug in their own bank account.
As mentioned above, we can only transfer your funds to another 501(c)(3) due to IRS regulations. If you're moving to a different kind of entity, you'll need to spend down the funds OCF holds on Collective expenses before leaving.
The only exception is if you've founded your own non-profit and applied for 501(c)(3) status, but are still awaiting your determinations letter. In this case we can sometimes put in place a legal agreement to enable transferring money.
If you want to shut your Collective down completely, you first need to zero the budget. You can do this by submitting expenses or donating the money to another OCF Collective. Once the balance is at zero, go to settings > advanced > archive.
After you have zeroed out your balance, if you are no longer going to use the Open Collective platform, it is a best practice to "archive" your collective.