Monday, December 3, 2007

Donating to Open Source Foundations

The end of the tax year is approaching so I took some time this weekend to peruse the IRS Form 990's of various U.S. based open source non-profit foundations. I hope this post encourages others to support the open source non-profits that they feel are most deserving.

The Apache Software Foundation had $94,723 in contributions and $51,651 in program service revenue their fiscal year ending April 30, 2006. The latter category includes funds provided by Google for Summer of Code mentoring, conference fees, etc. Combined with modest interest, the total revenue was $149,121. No directors or staff of the foundation are paid, and total reimbursements (for phone conference fees) totaled $1,266. Grants for conference attendance and software development totaled just $28,492 for the year, so the total assets of the foundation grew significantly in 2005. Bylaws and 990 Forms are available online.

The FreeBSD Foundation uses a calendar based fiscal year, so 2006 forms are available for comparison there as well as the first quarters of 2007. The FreeBSD Foundation had $100,714 in contributions in 2006. The Summer of Code mentoring funds were accounted for differently by the FF and the Apache Software Foundation so those funds are included in the contributions amount above. Combined with modest interest and other income, the total revenue of the FreeBSD Foundation was $103,033. The Foundation paid a director $51,383 in total compensation in 2006, which when combined with payroll taxes reached $55,889.10. That amounts to over 50% of the total contributions in 2006, which is quite high in general, but the FF was involved in a number of labor-intensive legal, technical, and administrative tasks last year. In particular, negotiating for a certified Java release, IBM Bladeserver support, and trademark guidelines requires a lot of administrative support unlikely to be completed in a timely fashion by volunteer directors. The FF is also on track to more than double the fundraising income in 2007, so if director costs were controlled this year the percentage of funds spent on salaries will be significantly lower in 2007.

The NetBSD Foundation has a much more modest fundraising record, and does not appear to have needed to file 990 forms in recent years. The 2007 goal is $50,000 for conferences and sponsored development work.

Remember to look into your employer's matching gift policy for 501(c)3 organizations before contributing, as you may be able to double your gift at no cost.

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