Frequently-Asked Questions


How can I contact Open Collective Foundation? Where can I go with questions or concerns?

Email us at [email protected]. We will respond as soon as we can!

What is the difference between Open Collective and Open Collective Foundation?

Open Collective is the software platform, which is made by a company called Open Collective Inc, and Open Collective Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) entity that uses it to provide fiscal hosting services. The two entities are legally completely separate, but share some of the same staff members and community guidelines.

What is the difference between fiscal hosting and fiscal sponsorship?

These two terms mean the same thing. See our Fiscal Hosting page for a detailed description.

What are your fees?

See our Fees page!

How does paying people work?

Payees should submit an expense in order to receive payment from a hosted initiative.

When are payments processed?

Expenses are paid twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

How can people donate to my initiative?

Individuals and organizations can contribute to your initiative in a variety of ways, including by credit card, bank transfer, and in-kind donations. See Financial Contributions for more information.

Will our application be approved?

As long as your group is legitimate, meets all of the eligibility requirements, is aligned with one of our impact areas, and has no conflict with the Terms or limitations of our program, you can expect to be approved. We will follow up with you via email if we have any questions or concerns about your application.


What if a contributor wants their contribution to be anonymous?

Tell them about our incognito contribution feature! Or they can also make a guest contribution. If these features are not sufficient, please reach out to us.

What if a financial contributor is unable or not comfortable with submitting their credit card information online?

If a donor is not comfortable with online credit card transactions, they can send the funds via Paypal, bank transfer, or check.

Can we use outside fundraising platforms, like GoFundMe, to fundraise for our initiative?

In most cases, yes! As long as the funds are transferred into your Open Collective account in a timely manner (30 days). Please note, that most of the time, donations not made on the Open Collective platform will not receive the tax- deduction. For more details, please review our Outside Accounts Policy.

Also, check out our Third-Party Fundraising Tools page for more options.

Can we receive earned income (i.e., non-donations) or sell stuff through OCF?

OCF’s ability to support sales of goods and services as a means of fundraising is limited, but we will consider requests on a case by case basis.

From our Outside Entities Policy:

Initiatives may sell products or services through a distinct and separate outside entity where the proceeds are then donated to an Initiative under OCF (as long as buyers are made aware that their purchase is not a direct donation and isn’t tax deductible, and that the Initiative and the outside entity are separate and distinct).

Can we offer financial contributors something in return for their donation?

If your initiative intends to sell or provide free goods or services in exchange for donations (a.k.a. partial deductibility), you must inform us and get our permission in advance.

What should I do if I receive funds outside of the platform?

As laid out in our Terms (Exhibit A, no. 6), when you receive funds outside of the platform, you must immediately transfer them to your account with Open Collective Foundation. Please let us know when you do so, and we will then manually add the funds to your budget. You cannot hold funds outside of your budget at any time.

If you are using a third-party fundraising platform, please see the Third-Party Tools and Benefits page for information on specific platforms.

Can my initiative donate to another hosted initiative?

Initiatives can easily give to other initiatives hosted by Open Collective Foundation. (If you want to give to an initiative with another fiscal host there are some extra steps.)


What does the approval process look like for expenses?

Please see Submitting Expenses for more information on the approval process.

Can we send or receive funds via Venmo or Cash App?

Unfortunately, these services do not currently allow nonprofit accounts. See this discussion for more details and instructions for how to proceed when sending funds through one of these services is the only available option.

Do you offer payroll services? Can I have employees?

Open Collective Foundation does not offer payroll services at this time. If your initiative has staff, they must engage as independent contractors.

Open Collective Foundation must collect tax forms for any individual who invoices (this does not apply to reimbursements) over $600 in year. Those individuals will be automatically issued a 1099. Here's a good explanation of how W-9s work for independent contractors, and there's more info on what a 1099 is here.

When you submit an expense that puts you over the $600 threshold, you will be sent an email with a link to complete your tax form online. This email will come from HelloWorks, the system we use to handle the forms.

Expenses will not be paid out to you until you submit the tax form.

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

Payroll and employment services are something that we are currently exploring and hope to offer soon. If you are interested in these sorts of services, please let us know.

Legal and Compliance

Do we need to set up a bank account?

Nope. We will hold your funds for you! Hosted initiatives should not set up a separate bank account or legal entity for the project. If you are eligible, joining is fast and easy.

Do we need to file taxes?

Initiatives do not have a separate legal existence from Open Collective Foundation and thus should not submit tax forms to the IRS. Your financial activities are included within our annual filings.

Individuals who receive income from Open Collective Foundation (or one of its hosted initiatives) may be asked to submit a W9 and will be issued a 1099. If this applies to you, you will automatically be sent a notification. If you have questions about your own personal tax situation, we recommend reaching out to a tax professional.

Are we exempt from sales tax?

Sales taxes are administered on the state and local level, but we're happy to apply or complete a certificate for your state or area, provided that we are eligible. Reach out to us and we'll look into it!

Only direct purchases, such as those via the platform or via Virtual Card, are eligible for sales tax exemption. Purchases that would be reimbursed are not eligible.

Will OCF own our intellectual property?

Per our Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement, you retain ownership of all your initiative's intellectual property. If you would like us to hold non-monetary assets, such as trademarks, please reach out.

Do you provide insurance coverage for our activities?

Open Collective Foundation does not offer insurance services to its initiatives at this time.

Can we receive international contributions or pay out international expenses?

Yes. But be aware that all of OCF’s transactions are denominated in USD and will then be exchanged into other currencies as part of the transaction.

Can you host groups that are based outside of the United States?

Although Open Collective Foundation’s hosted initiatives can do work outside of the US, their operations must currently be based in the US. There are a number of other hosts using the Open Collective platform, based all over the world.

Can we be fiscally sponsored by another group while being hosted by Open Collective Foundation?

No. Hosted initiatives can only be hosted by OCF for the duration of their time with us.

What is the process for leaving Open Collective Foundation?

While you entered into an agreement with us when you joined OCF, there is no contractual obligation to stay with us, or with any particular fiscal host on the Open Collective platform.

If you decide to transition to another fiscal host that uses the Open Collective platform, the process is relatively simple. If you “zero out” the funds in your account and decide to close it, you can also archive/delete your initiative if you are ending your initiative.

If you decide to transfer your funds to a fiscal host not on the Open Collective platform or to a new 501(c)(3) entity (one that you have set up or another fiscal host/sponsor), please reach out to us.