General FAQs

FAQ

What can I do with an Open Collective Foundation account?

  • Collect financial contributions

  • Pay bills and reimburse expenses

  • Provide automatic budget transparency

  • Transact without incorporating your own legal entity

What can't I do?

From our Terms & Conditions:

  • You can’t hold funds for the project in another account, or simultaneously have another fiscal sponsor for this project while we are your fiscal host.

  • You can’t use your initiative's funds for anything other than furthering your charitable purpose, and if you do you have to pay it back.

  • If you choose to enter into an agreement with a third party (like a vendor or a service), you will need to obtain permission from OCF. As fiscal sponsor, such agreements are legally between the third party and OCF.

  • You may not use your initiative's funds to influence legislation or politics (lobbying), to support breaking the law, or for private profit.

    • It is allowed for your initiative to say political things and advocate for things in society which get quite political. Your initiative just can’t advocate for positions on particular laws, voting for particular politicians, or do lobbying. More info about political restrictions on the IRS's website.

    • You can’t have only part of your initiative with us, e.g. you can’t have XYZ Collective and also have XYZ funds in another bank account for political activity. You'd need to have all of XYZ under our umbrella and then can separately run ABC thing for political activity.

Fiscally sponsored projects need to obey the same restrictions as any 501(c)(3).(https://www.propelnonprofits.org/resources/a-boards-guide-to-fiscal-sponsorship/). We must consider that each hosted initiative's activities could impact the other initiative's in our Foundation

Why should I use Open Collective?

OCF uses the Open Collective platform to make it easy to be transparent about your finances. We help you collect recurring or one-off contributions from sponsors, backers, or members. Spending from your initiative is simple: the person to be paid submits a receipt or invoice, you approve it, and they get paid. We believe that financial transparency creates stronger collaboration, so everyone can see how money flows in and out of your Collective.

How is Open Collective Foundation different?

Some things that make Open Collective special:

  • Built for ongoing collaborative communities, not one-off campaigns or individual creators.

  • Open source and designed for financial and technical transparency.

  • Offers fiscal sponsorship as a service, using Fiscal Hosts.

For more details, see the fee comparison chart below.

How much does it cost?

Like most other fiscal hosts, Open Collective charges a fee for our services. As shown below, 5%-8% commission is charged on each incoming donation (plus the third-party payment processing fees i.e. Stripe, PayPal, Transferwise-approximately 3% charges on each transaction- as those services are used).

We use Open Collective Platform to organize our Fiscal Hosting. Though most crowdfunding platforms charge a fee, Open Collective has graciously offered their service to our Foundation for free.

If you prefer to pay no fiscal hosting fees, you can become your own fiscal host.

We now offer the option for financial contributors to donate an extra amount to help cover the fees that go to OCF's operating costs. Since our platform is free for charitable initiatives, Open Collective Inc. relies on the generosity of contributors to keep this possible!

Fee Comparison Chart:

Fiscal Host

Hosted Collectives

Fee

Open Collective Foundation

US-based charity projects

5% for credit card payments, progressive fee structure for manual payments (8% down to 4% for larger budgets)

Open Source Collective

Open source projects

5%

Open Collective Europe ASBL

EU-based Collectives

5%

Open Collective Paris

Paris-based collectives

0%

Women Who Code

Local chapters

10%

Community Partners

US-based projects

9-12% + minimum balance/annual fee

Charitable Allies

1-25%

You're welcome to use us as a fiscal host for as long as you need and are eligible. You can cancel at any time. The Open Source Collective Platform offers great support and organization tools for fiscal hosts.

How long does it take to set up?

Applying takes only minutes. After that, we may have some additional clarifying questions for you, but once your application is accepted, you can begin accepting funds immediately. From applying to accepting donations, the whole process can take 30 minutes - 2 business days.

My application was accepted! Now what?

It's time to finish customizing your initiative's page so that you can inform and attract your financial contributors. More info on that here: https://docs.opencollective.com/help/collectives/quick-start-guide

Is there a minimum required budget to be hosted?

Nope! Since the fees come out of the transactions/donations, there is no minimum required balance.

In this grant/partnership/vendor application, they ask for an IRS Department of Treasury Letter of Determination / Acceptance Letter stating 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Where can I find this?

Right here! Download link below:

Can my initiative accept in-kind or non-monetary donations?

Yes! We just need documentation of any in-kind donations you receive so we can report on it accurately. Please email us a list of what you've received.

Can my initiative set up a store to sell items/merchandise for our fundraising efforts?

Yes! You can set up a merch store. You will just need to 1. Direct payments to OCF’s bank account or Paypal, and 2. Email support when a payment is expected so we can find it and add it to your initiative's balance. (It’s a manual process, so we make the credits 1x/month.)

💡 Collectives have been using threadless, bonfire, teezily and cotton bureau, for examples.