Open Collective
Open Collective
Expense payment timeframes
Published on March 8, 2023 by Alanna Irving

We know getting expenses paid out quickly is important to our Collectives, and we always try to process them as soon as possible. 

However, paying expenses requires manually checking each one, which takes time. These checks are very important for OCF as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit under strict IRS rules. We know our Collectives are doing urgently important work in communities and need money moved quickly, but when it comes to compliance, we have to be methodical. OCF already pays expenses much faster than many other fiscal sponsors and we’re always looking for ways to increase efficiency.

As a reminder, the official expectation we have set for expense payments is 7 days from the time of approval by a Collective admin, but if there are any questions, missing information, or problems with the expense, it can take longer. Expenses that involve extra processes, such as grants and cash assistance, often do take longer.

OCF has experienced incredible growth in recent times, and while our small team of real human staff is doing their best to keep up, there may be delays to expense payments beyond the usual 7 days, much as we try to avoid that happening. We are trying hard to keep things moving, and rest assured all process-able expenses will be processed.

We are currently hiring more staff specifically focused on processing expenses, and we expect to have more capacity soon. Refer anyone you know with nonprofit bookkeeping experience who might want to work with us!

Top tips for getting your expense paid quickly

  • Include all required information when you submit the expense, such as valid receipts, clear descriptions of what is being paid for, and full bank account information included for payout.
  • Make sure the expense is approved by a Collective admin. If the expense is edited later, it needs to be approved again (to make sure it’s still all good to be paid).
  • Carefully review requirements for more complex expenses, such as grants and cash assistance, and make sure you follow the process.
  • The legal name (different from display name) of the profile submitting the expense needs to match the payee bank account owner - if the payee is an organization, they need an organization profile.
  • If the expense is an invoice, you may be asked to submit a tax form (if so, you will automatically be notified). Submit the form quickly so your expense isn’t delayed.
  • Keep an eye out for any comments on your expense from the admins and reply to any questions by making a comment back.

Thank you for your understanding, and as always, let us know if you have any questions.
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Posted on April 10, 2023

Are there set days that staff is reviewing expenses? I think at one point it was Mondays and Thursdays. That should always be clarified, IMO, even if it means clarifying that such set days do not exist. It would help to manage expectations and mediate schedules in collectives.

Is there a schedule already for the year of when expenses won't be reviewed and paid out by OCF staff and when backlogs/delays will be?

Is there a single URL that maintains the most recent expense payment timeframes? If not, it would be useful for multiple reasons. It wouldn't have to keep track of past timeframes/policies. And it would be good to drop such a URL to the "Expense policies" section that the site has when one is submitting an expense to a collective.


Posted on April 13, 2023

Thank you for your feedback, we will be working on creating a more comprehensive expense policy in the coming months.

Our team does review all the "Ready to pay" expenses each Monday & Thursday.  A fair number of expenses do not get processed for a variety of reasons - often that we need corrected information from either the expense submitter or the Collective Admin.

Just because an expense is "reviewed" does not mean it will be fully "processed" (aka paid out), often due to OCF's need for additional information.

If no further info/approval is required, (everything in the ^^ "Top tips for getting your expense paid quickly" ^^ is sorted), the expense can be paid out more quickly.