Free and open source projects that are deemed to be genuine, substantial and significant may be eligible for associated project status.
Projects interested in becoming SPI associated projects should review these documents:
There is no cost to become or remain an associated project.
The Application Process
Generally the process starts with informal discussions between project representatives and one or more board members, initiated either by the project representatives or the board members. These discussions carry no committment on either side and are an opportunity for the project and SPI to establish if proceeding to a formal application makes sense for the project.
Projects interested in becoming SPI associated projects are welcome to contact the board for a discreet informal discussion on whether the project is likely to be accepted as an associated project. As this stage the board may offer advice that will improve the chance of acceptance later.
If a board member is personally satisfied that the project is suitable for associated project status they may agree to sponsor the project's application.
If the project wishes to proceed, a formal application is sent to the sponsor.
The information needed is:
- The name and details of the project
- Which SPI services will be needed
- Who is going to be the liaison to SPI, and the process for selecting/electing replacements
Note: (2) above does not exclude the use of additional SPI services. This information is sought so that SPI can assess short term service requirements.
Following the formal application, and any additional discussion, the sponsor will draft a resolution similar to the template below if they are still satisfied that the project is suitable for associated project status.
SPI resolution YYYY-MM-DD.xyz.1 WHEREAS 1. [Project] is a substantial and significant Free Software project. 2. The [Project] developers would like SPI's support and assistance, including taking donations. THE SPI BOARD RESOLVES THAT 3. [Project] is formally invited to become an SPI Associated Project, according to the SPI Framework for Associated Projects, SPI Resolution 1998-11-16.iwj.1-amended-2004-08-10.iwj.1, a copy of which can be found at http://www.spi-inc.org/corporate/resolutions/2004/2004-08-10.iwj.1/ 4. [Liaison] is recognised by SPI as the authoritative decision maker and SPI liaison for [project]. Successors will be appointed [describe method of selection or election]. 5. This invitation will lapse, if not accepted, 60 days after it is approved by the SPI Board.
This resolution will be presented to the board and contributing members, and discussed. If the project is in some way political or controversial, it may be necessary to champion it to the SPI contributing membership. This process is not intended to be adversarial - the members just want to avoid any difficult-to-rectify mistakes.
After at least three days of discussion, the resolution may be submitted for a vote at an SPI board meeting, which are held monthly on irc.spi-inc.org (the OFTC network), channel #spi, according to a schedule published on the SPI web site. These meetings are public and all are welcome to attend.
Board members will judge the application on several merits:
Free Software: is the project a genuine Free Software community project?
Substance: Does the project have an established development community, history of software releases, etc?
Significance: Is the project used by a broad audience, or does it have political or market significance?
If the resolution passes, the project is invited to become an associated project. The nominated liaison will be notified of the invitation. They will then have the amount of time stated in the resolution, usually 60 days, to officially accept.
The Project Liaison
The Liaison is the person from the project to whom the Board listens for all authoritative decisions regarding project assets, fundraising, expenses and disposition. While the Board is happy to talk to other members of the project, only the Liaison will be able to send any instructions regarding funds or assets, unless they delegate someone else.
The SPI Board does not stipulate how the Liaison is chosen in the project, as long as there are clear rules which let the Board know to whom to listen, especially in the event of disagreement. For most projects, it is simply one of the project founders who volunteers and appoints their own successor. A few projects, such as Debian and PostgreSQL, have well defined election procedures.
It is recommended, but not required, that the Liaison attend Board meetings. At Board meetings, Liaisons are considered "Advisors", able to bring proposals to the Board and speak but not to vote (unless, of course, they also happen to be Board members).
Participating in SPI
Contributors to the project are eligible for SPI contributing membership subject to the guidelines set out here but they each have to apply for it individually. The liaison can speed up the membership acceptance process by supplying the Board and Membership Committee with a list of eligible contributors for the project. The liaison will be consulted where there is doubt.
As the Contributing members elect the Board, as well as argue decisions which the Board feels are controversial enough to merit wide discussion, it is important that the project members join SPI to ensure the project is well represented.
All monetary activities in SPI are administrated by the Treasurer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
SPI can accept donations for the project in two ways: checks or credit cards. Checks must be in American or Canadian dollars and are mailed directly to SPI's mailing address. Credit cards are processed by an external service, Click&Pledge at this time. The Treasurer should be contacted to set up access to credit card donations, which may include the ability to create special donation pages for individual campaigns or events for which the project is collecting.
In either case, it is important that the donor designate that the gift is to go to the project. If a gift arrives without a designated project, the Treasurer will attempt to contact the donor, and if unsuccessful will place the money in the SPI general fund.
Please note that as a US 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization, there are legal restrictions on what money SPI can accept. Most common project fundraising activities are fine, but if the project plans to do anything unusual, please clear it with the treasurer first. Sales of fixed-price items (like T-shirts) are acceptable but the Treasurer needs to know about how the money was collected.
All donations to SPI are charitable under US law, except in certain cases such as t-shirt sales and event tickets. As a US non-profit, SPI is unable to provide donation tax credits to residents of other countries.
All transaction costs (such as the 4.5% for credit cards, and wire transfer fees) are deducted from the contribution. 5% of the remainder is deducted for SPI overhead, primarily accounting, photocopying and postage. The remaining money is held in trust for the project.
Due to processing time, it can take between a few days and a few weeks for a donation to arrive in the bank account and be available to the project. Under unusual circumstances an associated project can draw money from the SPI reserves against donations which are confirmed (i.e. check received) but not deposited, but this is not normal practice.
The liaison will receive notice of any donations made to the project, with donor details if available. It is recommended to send personalized thank-you e-mails or letters to project donors.
Paying Project Expenses
The liaison can request payment of project expenses at any time by sending a request to the treasurer. If the expense is legal, it will be paid as soon as the Treasurer can reasonably manage it. Please note that paying expenses usually means mailing checks, so payment generally takes two weeks or more.
Requests for payment should be accompanied by paperwork detailing the expense. If the paperwork is not electronic, it can be faxed or posted. Generally, it is expected that individuals will pay the expenses up front and be reimbursed by SPI, but advance payment can be arranged with sufficient advance warning to the treasurer. The Treasurer also has a credit card for online purchases which for some reason need to be made directly by SPI.
There are tax law restrictions on what SPI can legally pay for as a 501(c)3 Non-Profit. Common expenses like travel, equipment, flyers, booths, conference expenses and legal help are generally fine, but some items like software development contracting need to be handled carefully. If the liaison is in doubt they should contact the Treasurer.
Transaction fees from paying expenses (wire transfer fees, cashier's checks and postage) will be paid out of project funds. Funds may be transferred only to other 501(c)3 US non-profit organizations, and may not be transferred to private companies, other types of non-profits, or foreign organizations except in compensation.
The Treasurer will give the liaison a monthly report of donations collected and expenses paid for the project.