How to spend your money

Open Collective Foundation is closing down in 2024. All funds must be paid out by September 30, 2024. Read more here.

In order to achieve your Collective's mission, you need to spend the money you raise. We are here to facilitate that, and to take care of a lot of the admin for you. OCF functions as your Collective's bank account and we process many kinds of payouts for our hosted groups.

Charitable purposes: Contributions to your Collective must be devoted to your charitable purpose, as described in your initial application for hosting. You can’t use your Collective’s funds for anything other than furthering your charitable purpose, and if you do, you have to pay it back. You may not use your Collective’s funds to influence legislation, to support breaking the law, or for private profit.

There are a range of ways to pay out funds from your OCF budget, depending on what you're paying for and who you want to pay. Most payouts happen through Expenses on your Open Collective page, but we have also developed other options to meet the needs of our community in specific circumstances.

  • Reimbursement: Someone makes a purchase, then uploads the receipt to get paid back via an Expense.

  • Invoice: Paying someone for their time, specific services, or products/goods as a vendor or independent contractor, via an Expense.

  • Cash assistance: A process for paying people in cash or through apps who can't directly interact with the OC platform because they are unbanked or lack internet access.

  • Grant: Become a grantmaker in your community, enabling financial support that's not taxable as income to the grantee, which doesn't require receipts up front. Paid via Grant Expenses (only enabled for approved groups).

  • Payroll: Employ someone on an ongoing basis in a formal part-time or full-time role, which can include benefits like health insurance.


While we try to accommodate every request, we work within some limits defined by IRS rules, human capacity of our staff, and technical limitations.

  • OCF will only process payouts approved by an admin of the Collective.

  • All expenditures must be allowable under 501(c)(3) regulations.

  • We can only pay people in the US in the vast majority of cases. See our International Activity Policy for more info.

    • 💡 From our Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement (FSA): Generally, we only pay expenses for activities within the US. If you want to fund international activities, get our permission first, or we might not be able to pay the expense.

  • OCF makes payments via bank transfers only, because these are integrated with the Open Collective platform.

  • We can't make direct payments via CashApp, Venmo and similar services (because they don't allow nonprofits like OCF to sign up, among other reasons). See the Outside Accounts Policy for how to work through external tools.

  • Payouts must be broken down into individual expenses with details about what the money is for—we can't pay out undifferentiated chunks of money (except in some special cases like donations to another 501(c)(3) nonprofit). See the Outside Entities Policy for more info.

  • We have certain paperwork requirements due to IRS rules—we have to collect W9 forms in some cases before we can pay someone, we have to sign a grant contracts, etc. If any of these apply to you, we will let you know.

  • OCF cannot reimburse for EBT

Want to pay someone who's not yet on the platform? Or maybe you know exactly how much you want to disburse to someone? You can invite someone to submit an expense. Fill out the payout details for them, they'll receive an email to confirm, and get paid!

Questions about payouts? Email us.

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