What is an Open Collective?
An Open Collective is a group of people with a shared mission that operates in full transparency. Everyone can see how they receive or spend money.
What can I do with Open Collective?
- Set up a page to collect membership fees or donations (like this one)
- Let your members submit expenses and reimburse them with a click (example)
- Give everyone visibility on your budget (example)
If you have an organization, you can use Open Collective to empower local chapters to raise money in their community and have their own budget. See Open Collective For Organizations.
Do you have a Getting Started guide?
Glad you asked! Check it out: Ten Steps to Successful Open Source Crowdfunding.
What is Open Collective good for?
Open Collective is perfect for any side project that is not for profit. Side projects should be fun. You shouldn't have to worry about creating and maintaining a legal entity, doing bookkeeping, etc, just to collect money to reimburse your expenses. Open Collective is ideal for all kinds of groups, like meetups, open source projects, parent associations, neighborhood associations, clubs, unions, movements, non-profits, and business incubators.
Why should I use Open Collective?
Open Collective makes it easy to be transparent about your finances. We help you collect recurring contributions from supporters, whether you're funding an ongoing work on open source software, collecting dues for a parent association, or charging a monthly fee for your food coop. Once you have the money on Open Collective, reimbursing expenses is simple, and everyone can see how funds are being spent. We believe that financial transparency creates stronger collaboration.
What do Collectives spend money on? How do we decide what to pay for?
There are as many answers to this question as there are collectives! It's up to each community to decide how to spend their funds. Your core contributors (the admins of your Open Collective) can approve expenses for payment from your funds (which anyone can submit), and you can have as many core contributors as you need. Some communities delegate financial decision-making to a specific person or role, some develop policies about what should be funded, and others have processes in place to make spending decisions together as a group.
If you'd like some ideas and examples of what collectives fund, check out this article: Has Your Open Source Community Raised Money? Here’s How to Spend It. Some common examples are hosting costs, documentation, community moderation, t-shirts and stickers, conference travel expenses, food at meetups, work on specific features... even paying someone to work on the project full time! It completely depends on the needs and culture of your project.
How is it different from other crowdfunding platforms?
Two major differences:
- While most crowdfunding is about one-off projects, Open Collective helps you raise money recurringly (e.g. monthly) to finance the ongoing activities of your community. That way, you can plan your activities against an anticipated monthly budget.
- Open Collective operates with full financial transparency and accountability. Other platforms hand over the money without showing the backers, who provided the funds, how it's used. On Open Collective, you submit expenses for everyone to see. We believe transparency leads to healthier organizations and communities.
How does it work?
When you create a collective, the money collected goes to the bank account associated with the collective. When someone wants to use the money, they submit an expense on the public page of your collective (like this one). After the expense is approved by you, the person is automatically reimbursed to their PayPal account. The budget and all the expenses are visible publicly.
How much does it cost?
Open Collective takes 10% of the money raised by the collective for managing bookkeeping, taxes, and admin (fiscal sponsorship), as well as providing your Open Collective page and the software it runs on. We share this commission with the fiscal sponsor (legal owner of the bank account that holds the money on behalf of the collective).
Additionally, our payment processors charge a fee - Stripe for receiving money via a Credit Card and PayPal for paying out expenses. Usually 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. We are exploring adding other means of payment to reduce those fees, including ACH transfers and Bitcoin.
What is Open Collective For Organizations?
Open Collective for Organizations allows you to empower chapters or projects in your local area or network to raise money and have their own budget, without having to open a separate bank account. No more asking a local sponsor to directly pay for the pizzas! See how Women Who Code uses Open Collective.
How does it work for Organizations?
Open Collective sits on top of the Stripe and PayPal account of your organization. It creates virtual groups for each of your chapters. Each have their own dedicated page and independent budget (see for example Women Who Code Austin). This empowers them to raise money on their own, from their local community and sponsors, in place of or in addition to any budget they receive from your organization. Legally speaking, this is the equivalent of acting as a "Fiscal Sponsor".You decide what, if any, percentage goes to the main organization for providing this service.
How much does Open collective for Organizations cost?
We are currently in private beta. Contact [email protected] and we'll work with you.
What happens to the money if I close my account?
The money in your PayPal account associated with your Open Collective stays there.
Is there a minimum time we have to keep our Open Collective running?
No minimum time is required.
How do I make a donation?
You rock! We are delighted you are asking this question. Go to the Collective’s page (e.g. https://opencollective.com/wwcodeatl), choose your recurring donation amount and hit the Back Us or Donate button, fill out the form, et voilà! Now you are part of that collective, your community will appreciate it.
If your donation is in the form of an expense you paid, which you don't want to be reimbursed for (as your contribution), please submit the receipt as an expense to the Collective, and choose the "donation" payment method option.
How do I submit an expense and get paid?
Go to the page of the Collective you're submitting the expense to, and click "Submit Expense". You will need to upload a valid receipt or invoice, and provide your PayPal address.
Each collective and host can specify expense policies and helpful info, like the details for invoicing, at the top of the 'new expense' page (example).
You can submit two kinds of expenses:
- A receipt to be reimbursed for something you paid for (stickers, online services, meals, plane tickets, etc).
- An invoice for your time/work.
Here is an invoice template you can use. Fill out the blue parts, and change the invoicee to the correct host organization if needed.
To be valid, an invoice must include:
- What it is for (feature built, work done, etc)
- Amount to be paid
- Your full name
- Your physical address
- The name of the Collective
- The name of the host organization (for example, most open source software projects are in the "Open Source Collective" host)
Private information provided on invoices is not viewable publicly. The expense amount will be listed on the Collective's public page, but the invoice itself is only visible to the host and core contributors.
In order to be paid, submitted expenses must be approved by the Collective's core contributors, who ensure valid use of the Collective's funds.
To approve expenses for your Collective, use the links on the notification email you receive, or log in to your Collective and click on the expense.
Expenses are paid weekly, on Fridays. Please contact Support if you have any questions.
Why do you have monthly payments from backers/sponsors as the default?
A collective is an organization of people working together towards a common goal. Sometimes these goals take a few months or a few years to achieve. By supporting a collective with a recurring monthly amount, you help the collective plan out its future.
Why do you charge recurring monthly subscriptions on 1st of every month?
It helps our collectives manage their monthly budget. Instead of getting donations randomly throughout the month, they can start with a minimum budget for that month. Any new donations improve the budget.
We're working on a way to charge a single payment spread out across monthly contributions, to reduce payment processor transaction fees.
How can I cancel my monthly donation?
We are sorry to see you go! Go to opencollective.com/subscriptions to manage your subscriptions.
Where can I report a Collective?
We strive to keep our community healthy, safe and in line with our mission. If you have a complaint or concern please email us: [email protected]
Why is my Collective not able to receive donations right away?
We are thrilled you have created your Open Collective! We are still in private beta and we have a selection process before new Collectives can receive donations. We are a small team, but working hard to get everyone aboard!
Please read them carefully!
Can’t find the answer you are looking for?
Check our Wiki
Shoot us an email at [email protected] or drop by our Slack channel https://slack.opencollective.com
Who are your investors?
We raised a total of $2,815,000 so far ($815k on convertible notes in 2015-2016, $2M Series Seed in June 2017)
We did a first pre-seed round of $500k in October 2015 (SAFE, $5M cap) with:
- $250k General Catalyst (SF/NYC/Boston, Hemant Taneja)
- $50k Jonathan Siegel (can't pin down his location)
- $50k Belcube (Brussels)
- $50k Tony Jamous (London, Nexmo)
- $25k Eric Nadalin (London, Nexmo)
- $25k Brian Larson (SF, engineer at Google, Twitter)
- $15k Guillermo Rauch (SF/Buenos Aires, socket.io)
- $10k Dries Buytaert (Boston, Drupal)
- $10k Underscore.vc (Boston)
- $5k Toon Vanagt (Brussels, data.be)
- $5k Xavier Corman (Brussels, Edebex)
- $5k Personal friend
We did a follow up round of $315k in July 2016 (SAFE, $8M cap) with:
- $100k Ricardo Gorodisch (Argentina, President Foundation Kaleidos)
- $50k Pete Koomen (SF, Cofounder/CTO Optimizely)
- $25k Jim Payne (NYC, Cofounder MoPub, EIR Accel Partners)
- $25k Caesar Sengupta (Bay Area, VP Product Management at Google)
- $20k Gautam Gandhi (India, Entrepreneur, former Head New Business Development India at Google)
- $15k Tom Brown (FinTech lawyer, partner at Paul Hastings, former VP at Visa )
- $15k Sam De Brouwer (SF, TEDxSanFrancisco)
- $15k Vadim (NYC/Bay Area/Buenos Aires)
- $10k John Kobs (SF, Entrepreneur/CEO at ApartmentList)
- $10k Nicolas Wittenborn (Berlin, principal at point 9 venture)
- $10k Derek Parham (NYC, deputy CTO at Hillary For America)
- $10k Henry Bridge (NYC, Director of Product at Hillary For America)
- $10k Antoine Perdaens (Belgium, Cofounder/CEO at KnowledgePlaza)
- $1M James Cham, Roy Bahat, Karin Klein (Bloomberg Beta)
- $350k Angel list syndicate lead by Dave Eisenberg and Nadia Eghbal
- $200k Nicholas Chirls (Notation Capital)
- $150k Dave Eisenberg
- $100k Semil Shah (Haystack.vc)
- $40k Armin Steuernagel (Purpose.ag)
- $35k Ramy Adeeb (1984.vc)
- $25k John Kobs (SF, Entrepreneur/CEO at ApartmentList)
- $25k Randy Reddig (Square)
- $25k Noah Weiss
- $20k Jack Herrick (WikiHow.com)
- $10k Kyle Wild (Keen.io)
- $10k Sam Gerstenzang
- $10k David King
Why Do You Do What You Do? #wdydwyd
We want to empower people to create the organizations and institutions of tomorrow, one community at a time.
"I want to empower people to go build the organizations, movements, associations and institutions of tomorrow in a bottom-up fashion where transparency is built in by design." – Xavier, cofounder
After Storify (my first startup in Silicon Valley), one of my options was to go back to Belgium (where I’m originally from) and start a new political party or a “union 2.0”. Why? Because 90%+ of the young people there don’t feel represented by those institutions (and I’m pretty sure it’s the same in your country). They were founded 100+ years ago (BI -- Before Internet) at a time when paper was the only communication channel readily available. They lack feedback loops, they lack transparency and as a result, they are increasingly disconnected from reality. We need new institutions for this Internet era.
I could spend the next 5-10 years of my life doing that. But that doesn't scale. Yet, this is a global issue. It's not limited to Belgium. So I wondered: “How can I empower others to go build those institutions of tomorrow?”; “What tools do people need to create those organizations?”.
While the Internet has been really good so far at helping people get together and do things together, it has been quite bad at dealing with money. As a result, we’ve seen a lot of movements popping up here and there that ended up disappearing as quickly. The harsh reality of this world is that without money, you can’t sustain a community over time.
The biggest notable exception is Podemos, the new political party in Spain that started in 2014 and who quickly became the second largest political party just a year later. Their secret? They were able to get 285,000+ people to become members and pay a minimum of 5 euros (~$6) per month to finance and sustain the movement.
Unfortunately, it’s still too complicated for a community to quickly collect money for their cause.
I experienced it first hand when I lead the Startup Manifesto in Belgium. A grassroots movement to come up with recommendations to the government to “make it suck less” for startups in Belgium. At some point, we wanted to print stickers for a conference but we didn’t have money. Plenty of people were willing to support our cause and make a donation. But in order to accept that money, we would have to create a bank account, which requires first to create a legal entity. We had better things to do. Not to mention that the money would have been collected in a black box where all supporters would have zero visibility. That was against our values. So we just gave up on the idea of collecting money. And an existing organization simply paid the stickers for us.
That’s why I’m building Open Collective.