Some of our processes and limitations
Open Collective’s platform is set up so that your Collective can have autonomy and independence, but there may be some exceptions when you need to get an OCF staff member involved. Here are some situations where you’ll need to reach out to us:
- If you choose to enter into an agreement with a third party (like a vendor or a service, contract, or a lease agreement), please email us well in advance. Since we are your fiscal host, these agreements are legally between the third party and OCF, and need to be reviewed, approved, and signed by our team.
- From our Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement (FSA): If you want to enter into an agreement with someone else, such as a contract with a vendor or providing a specific service to a sponsor, you need to get our permission, because legally that agreement is with the Foundation as the legal entity. This applies to employing people as well. If you ask us to sign a contract for you, you agree to fulfill the terms of that contract.💡
- Groups hosted by OCF must obtain approval from OCF staff prior to the purchase of any large assets (e.g. cars, property)
- If you need to submit a grant application as Open Collective Foundation, we may need to review the grant application. You may also need documentation from us that is not available on our Official Information and Documents page. Check out our information on Applying for Institutional Grant Funding for more information on how to apply for foundation and corporate grant funding.
- If you engage in offline or in-person fundraising, so that we can make sure we are registered with the government in your state.
- (Purely online fundraising does not need to be reported to us.)
- If you want to use an external service or platform to receive funds that is not covered in these docs, please let us know so we can make sure it is compatible. If you do not reach out ahead of time, it could cause trouble and delay fund transfers.
- If you want to sell goods or services, or provide anything tangible in return to someone giving you money (i.e. it’s not purely a donation). There are tax implications including potential sales tax and impacts on tax-deductibility. See our FAQ for more details.
- If your Collective’s mission/activities change from what you submitted in your application.
While our goal is to help you do more, there are some limitations to what you can do as an Collective hosted by Open Collective. In order to host your Collective and all the others who are currently with us, Open Collective Foundation needs to maintain its 501(c)(3) status and remain in good standing with the IRS and other US authorities.
Please make sure to consider how the activities of your Collective could impact the other Collectives hosted by OCF.
- Collectives funds must be used solely for your sponsored charitable activities. Funds used for any other purpose, such as private profit, will need to be paid back. (Note: this does not mean that you cannot be paid for your labor.)
- Funds cannot be used to support breaking the law.
- OCF cannot sponsor Collectives for which religion is a key focus of their mission, that seek to spread any particular religion, or that require members or beneficiaries to hold certain religious beliefs.
- Collectives may not hold funds for the project in any other bank account while hosted by OCF. All funds for your Collective should be hosted with us. Review our Outside Accounts Policy for more details.
Note : You can maintain another bank account for other projects and activities that may be somewhat related. They need to be fully distinct, with different names and purposes, and funds must remain completely separate. Money cannot be regularly flowing back and forth between the two accounts/entities. You will also need to define a very clear scope for your Open Collective funding and activities that is fully separated from any other ones.
- OCF Collectives are not able to take on loans. We can facilitate donations and grants only.
- Once funds enter into a 501(c)(3), they must remain in the 501(c)(3) sphere. This means if your OCF-hosted Collective closes down, your funds cannot be returned, and can either be spent on project expenses or must be transferred to another 501(c)(3) - perhaps another OCF-hosted Collective!
As a reminder:
- Everything is managed and tracked on the Open Collective platform.
- We will receive money on behalf of your Collective and we will hold it safe and not spend it on anything else.
- Your Collective isn’t a legal entity itself, but sits under the umbrella of OCF.