Yes, these are emotional words, but we just have to say: You are our rockstars!
In just one week, thousands of donors from all over the world did the unbelievable: You all donated more than 40.000 € for setting up The Document Foundation as legal entity. Honestly, we never ever even dreamed of achieving that in such a short period of time – what happened is just amazing, awesome and beyond imagination. Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much! You all contributed to the dream of a Foundation, and with 10.000 € left until we have the required capital stock, we’re close to making it a reality.
You all rock, and you are among the heroes of this Community!
Perhaps the most exiciting thing about nearing our capital goal is the diversity of individual donors, each one making a small but significant blow for a stable future for LibreOffice. Without all of you, we could not be where we are now, and better we are not reliant on any single corporation or donor which is a great source of strength for our community.
Our race for funds runs until March 21st, and we hope for many more donations that not only help us in getting the required 50.000 € capital stock, but also a starting budget for the future Foundation. We’d like to share some thoughts on the next steps with you, as well as answering some of the most frequently asked questions on the race for funds and the creation of the Foundation.
How much money does The Document Foundation need? The 50.000 € are required for the capital stock of a German-based Foundation. All donations we receive beyond that will directly be used for the future budget of The Document Foundation.
What will you do with the money? Setting up and running a Foundation costs. Right now, all of the work done is on a volunteer basis, people spending their free time and weekends on engaging themselves in the Community. However, volunteer work does not pay recurring costs:
- domain names (several hundred € per year),
- trademarks (approx. 10.000 €)
- and the infrastructure (approx. 400 € per month)
are just a few examples of things the Community pays on its own right now. In addition, we have
- no marketing budget,
- no travel funding for volunteers,
- no option of pre-financing merchandising items, DVDs or booklets,
- and no budget for attending trade shows.
Handing over some administrative tasks like legal issues and taxes to paid professionals is as desirable as getting hardware and testing machines for developers. As an example, the Mac build is compiled on a small Mac mini which takes a lot of time, instead of working with a fast but expensive machine. Insurances for the future Foundation are needed as well.
What are the next steps? As soon as we have the required capital stock available, which we – thanks to our rockstars! – expect pretty soon, we will work on legally setting up the Foundation. Right now, the Community Bylaws are translated and slightly adapted to German law, so they can be checked by the local authorities. In addition, we will very soon start formal elections of the boards and representatives.
Where in Germany will the Foundation be located? We are currently in the process of investigating which German state (“Bundesland”) fits best to the Foundation’s structures. Various states have various regulations for the different types of Foundation, so we want to find the ideal location for our needs.
Who will actually found the Foundation? At the moment, we envision OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V. (more on that association later on) to be the founder of the Foundation. This has mostly practical reasons, as all founders have to meet with a notary and sign the required documents together. Having a single founder makes this process much easier, quicker and less expensive.
How much money did you collect besides the race for funds? From the very first day, The Document Foundation was about openness and transparency, so we have ever since published our budget, and of course will keep doing so in the future. The current figures from the end of January, left alone the race for funds, can be found on the public marketing mailing list. Roughly spoken, we received about 1.000 € in donations per month before the public race for funds.
Can I pay via credit card? Why do I need PayPal? Many people asked on how they could pay from foreign countries, or how they could use other services. Right now, donations are accepted either via PayPal or via bank wire transfer to a German account. We are working on improving these facilities. Right now, we are working on establishing a payment option in the US, and we are also looking into alternatives like Amazon Payments, Google Checkout, Flattr and others. Dedicated services like Kickstart are not available to us at the moment, as we have no legal US representative, but we are also working on that. In any case, feel free to contact us if you want to make a donation and none of the available options work for you.
What is about the “OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V.”? The OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V. is a German nonprofit association founded in 2004, and consists of long-term project members. In its statues, it states support for free and open source software, and especially free and open source office productivity software. It supports The Document Foundation by acting as interim legal entity, collecting donations and financially supporting it. Several members of the Steering Committee are also board members at OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V. The association, whose name might change soon, is not to be confused with other German associations that solely support OpenOffice.org.
Why did you choose Germany? Aren’t there countries with better conditions? A lot of people asked if setting up The Document Foundation in Germany was necessary, given that such a high capital stock is required. In contrast, countries like the United Kingdom or the United States provide similar legal constructs for a Foundation, without requiring a high capital stock. The Steering Committee, after thorough investigation, decided in a public phone conference that the location of the future Foundation should ideally be Germany, and only if that failed (which it most probably did not, thanks to the help of our rockstars!), the United Kingdom would have been an alternative. Germany is the best choice for the future Foundation because of various reasons: Not only do German Foundations (“Stiftungen”) stand for security, stability and trustworthiness, but Germany is also a large adopter of free and open source software. The roots of the product go back to Germany in the mid-1980’s; in addition, Germany provides benefits in terms of taxes, tax-deductibility for donors, and in terms of the Foundation’s activity, which is not limited to one specific country. Most important, lots of active Community members who are willing to drive the Foundation are from Germany. Even if other countries required less funds for setting up the entity, if local people able to drive it are missing, higher costs for representatives and lawyers would occur. After all, even in other countries a solid financial backing of the Foundation is required.
If you want to be in Germany, why don’t you go for an association or a nonprofit corporation? Indeed, German law provides various charitable alternatives, like an association or a nonprofit corporation, both which are easier to found. However, they are less secure in terms of stability: In both cases, a majority of members or owners could change the reason and dedication of the entity, in some cases even losing the charitable status is possible. In contrast, a Foundation (“Stiftung”) cannot change its reason and dedication, thus providing the stability we are seeking not only for our Community, but also for our users.
How about the support by large corporations? Many large corporations are in favor of LibreOffice and The Document Foundation and have issued public statements of support. A few of them, like Novell and Red Hat, are providing a lot of resources in terms of developers. Up to now, however, the amount of large donations by big corporate sponsors is rather low. For some corporations, investing into the capital stock of a Foundation is not as easy as supporting the Foundation’s daily business, so we do expect a larger support also in terms of donations, as soon as the capital stock has been collected and the Foundation is set up.
What is your business model? We are currently investigating various options that should help us to continously raise money for the Foundation, so we can set a framework for future developments and new exciting projects. Details on this business model will be made available soon, but first we need to come closer to our goal of an established Foundation.
Whom can I contact in case of questions? Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Thank you for your support and donation! It is a pleasure to have you with us on this exciting journey!