Expenses & Getting Paid FAQs


How does paying people work?

Money contributed to an initiative goes to the bank account of the Fiscal Host. When someone wants to be paid, they submit an expense through your initiative's page. After you approve it, the person can be reimbursed via PayPal, Transferwise, or wire transfer.

Expenses are visible publicly, so everyone can see how much money was spent and on what (though private details like emails, names, and addresses are only visible to that user and the Collective admins).

Do you offer payroll services?

Not at this time, though it is something we are considering for the future as we continue to grow and hope to better serve our hosted initiatives. If your initiative has a staff, they would be considered independent contractors.

Any compensated individuals (not reimbursement or grantees) will need to fill out a W9 tax form if earnings exceed $600 (we will automatically send this to the contractor). See more below.

How do I get paid/reimbursed/receive my grant* money?

Go to the initiative's page and click "Submit Expense". You will need to create an account (if you don't already have one), and then upload a valid receipt or invoice (you can create a downloadable invoice on our site).

More details on Submitting Expenses.

When to use each option:

  • Reimbursement: Requires a receipt. Ex: Paying out-of-pocket for supplies for an initiative. Request the initiative to repay your purchase.

  • Invoice: Taxable income. Requires an invoice. Payments made for services rendered e.g. workshop facilitator, website design, public speaker.

  • Request a Grant: Money paid out as a gift, no services rendered. Cannot make grants to a for-profit entity. Examples of appropriate Grant Requests include: people in distress, poverty, or to support individuals. *Please note the 'Grant' feature is not yet available to all of our hosted initiatives

When will I get paid?

Expenses are paid out biweekly, on Mondays and Thursdays.

How are expenses approved?

Anyone can file an expense to any Collective. To be paid, it must be approved by one of the Core Contributors of that Collective.

Please ensure your expense meets the expense policy of the Collective, which appears on the 'submit expense' form. If you modify an expense, it will have to be approved again. Once paid, it cannot be modified.

Are receipts or invoices public?

Basic data for all expenses, like the amount and description, are public. But attachments like invoices are private, as they may contain personal information. Only the administrators of the initiative and the Fiscal Host can see invoice and receipt details.

What payment methods do you support for expense payouts?

Right now, we only support PayPal and Bank Transfers for one-click payouts through the platform. You can manually record any money that you receive or send outside of the Open Collective platform. In the future, we hope to build other payout methods into the platform

How does OCF help me with tax accounting when paying out expenses?

The Open Collective Foundation fiscal host must collect tax forms from users who invoice more than $600 USD per year (receipt reimbursements don't count toward the $600 limit, only invoices): A W9 form (for US persons) or W8-BEN/E (for non-US persons).

For tax purposes, you will likely be treated as an independent contractor and you will be issued a 1099 from HelloWorks if your earnings exceed $600. Here's a good explanation of how W-9s work for independent contractors, and there's more info on what a 1099 is here.

If you don’t meet the $600 threshold, simply report your earnings as miscellaneous self-employment income when you file your taxes.

Expenses will not be paid out until the tax form has been submitted.

Everything you enter in HelloWorks is only shared with the host admins and accountants (so the collective/projects admins don't have access to that). The technical team may, for support or debugging purpose, access this information as well on a per-demand basis. When HelloWorks send us the tax form, we immediately encrypt it and it's usually never decrypted before we send it to the accountants (once a year).

How do I generate reports? Do you have any reporting tools?

You can find a Step-by-Step Guide of how to CSV export your initiative's budget, expenses, contribution details here: Migrating your transactions to a spreadsheet