Services offered to associated projects

SPI offers a variety of services to associated projects. The major services offered by SPI are listed here. Additional services may be offered at the discretion of the board.

If a project wishes to use one of these services the project liaison should contact the board which will make arrangements as appropriate.

Accepting donations and holding funds

SPI will accept donations and hold funds on behalf of associated projects. Reimbursements for legitimate project expenses will be made from funds earmarked for an associated project with the approval of the project liaison and documentation of the expense. Donations to associated projects are typically deductible as a charitable donation for US taxpayers. SPI does not assist with fundraising activities.

Once held by SPI, funds may only be transferred to another 501(c)3 US non-profit with a compatible purpose. Examples of such non-profits include the Apache Software Foundation, the Software Freedom Conservancy, and the Free Software Foundation.

Pay for Project Expenses

SPI is able to pay for various project expenses using funds which have been earmarked for that project. As will all 501(c)3 US non-profit organizations, expenses must be in furtherance of the organization's goals and donated funds may only be used in accordance with the wishes of the donor. All expenses will be reviewed by SPI to ensure that these requirements are met. Typically, expenses such as travel reimbursement, equipment purchases, marketing material such as flyers, conference-related, or legal expenses are acceptable. SPI is also able to engage in contracts with contractors or other organizations for software development, hosting services, or other activities provided they further the organization's goals, however, all contracts MUST be signed by an officer of SPI unless the board explicitly authorizes another entity to sign a contract (this is not done, however, as a general rule, but may be done if there are very special circumstances). Project liaisons and project members do NOT have authority to enter SPI into contracts. SPI will also engage with counsel to review contracts as needed and will generally cover the expenses related to contract review unless they are extensive and very specific to a given project, at the discretion of SPI.

SPI has templates for certain kinds of contracts which have already been reviewed by counsel for certain countries (note that contractor agreements typically require country-specific language).

If the liaison is in doubt they should contact the Treasurer or the Board as appropriate.

Holding substantial assets

Substantial equipment, software or other assets valued at over $300 which an associated project purchases with SPI funds are owned by SPI. SPI will also accept donations of assets on behalf of associated projects. The equipment will be used and maintained by the project but SPI will hold legal ownership.

Once held by SPI, substantial assets may only be transferred to another 501(c)3 US non-profit with a compatible purpose. Examples of such non-profits include the Apache Software Foundation, the Software Freedom Conservancy, and the Free Software Foundation.

Holding intangible assets

Associated projects may transfer intangible assets such as domain names, trademarks and licenses to SPI for protection. In addition SPI can seeking to obtain trademarks on behalf of associated projects.

Once held by SPI, intangible assets may only be transferred to another 501(c)3 US non-profit with a compatible purpose. Examples of such non-profits include the Apache Software Foundation, the Software Freedom Conservancy, and the Free Software Foundation.

See here for the procedure to transfer domain names to SPI.

Signing contracts

If a project needs to enter into a contract, they should reach out to SPI to have the contract reviewed and then signed by an SPI officer. Project liaisons and members are NOT authorized to enter into contracts on behalf of SPI. Such general contracts may include:

  • Signing a contract with a venue for an associated project to hold a conference

  • Signing a contract for insurance for events held by an associated project

  • Signing contracts related to hosting services or cloud agreements.

  • Engaging with organizations who support non-profits by providing services at a reduced or zero cost.

The costs associated with contracts signed for a specific associated project will generally be borne out of the funds which are earmarked for that associated project. Any questions regarding specific circumstances should be directed to the Treasurer.

Accounting and Auditing

SPI handles accounting for associated projects utilizing an external contractor and goes through external audits by contracting with an external organization, as required by non-profits of SPI's size in SPI's jurisdiction, avoiding the need for projects to have to go through their own audits or hire their own accounting contractors. Typical accounting and auditing costs are covered by SPI. Should a project have extraordinary requirements, the board may ask the project to cover those additional expenses, though this is extremely rare.

Typical accounting needs which SPI handles include:

  • Processing reimbursements

  • Invoicing sponsors

  • Accepting and paying invoices from vendors

  • Tracking funds on a per-project basis

  • Providing regular updates on a per-project basis regarding current funds, income, and expenses

  • Producing and publishing to the public regular accounting reports as required by law

Legal assistance

SPI looks for opportunities to engage with counsel to provide cross-project solutions, at SPI's expense, to avoid projects having to individually engage with counsel. Examples include having a contract template to hire contractors with, avoiding the need for individual projects to have their own contract and having to have each project have those contracts reviewed by counsel.

SPI is also able to facilitate retaining and paying counsel for projects to utilize, generally using funds earmarked for that project.

See also