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Tool for transparent funding (donations / expenses)

Transparency is important, especially when it comes to funding. As the [Extinction Rebellion] movement grows internationally, everyone should be able to know at all times how much has been raised at the global level and how is the money used to develop the movement. First, I'll share our experience at XR Belgium, then I'll share a proposal for the movement in general.

How we do it at XR Belgium

We are using Open Collective. See https://opencollective.com/XR-Belgium

People can donate money online or by bank transfer. Every time anyone needs money (for supplies and material, renting a place for our general assemblies, etc.), they simply submit the expense or the invoice of the vendor to the collective. All expenses are public and transparent (see https://opencollective.com/XR-belgium/expenses).

We can also export all the data in CSV and via their API.

Other XR chapters already on Open Collective:

Cost

If you already have a bank account, you can use Open Collective for free. There is just a 5% commission on online donations made by credit card (on top of the Stripe fees). For donations made by bank transfer, there is no commission. You just need to record them on the platform manually.

If you don’t have a bank account, Open Collective can offer fiscal sponsorship in the UK, in Europe and in the US for a 10% fee on all donations. This takes care of the accounting / book keeping.

Given that the platform is open source, you could also fork the code and install it on your own server, in which case it’s entirely free (but a lot of work).

Can I use another crowdfunding platform with open collective?

Yes, it’s not mutually exclusive. You can use any other crowdfunding platform out there and then add the proceeds to your open collective. In that case there is no fee (well, just the fees of the crowdfunding platform that you would be using).

Proposal

I think it would be great to also use Open Collective at the global level to address Julian’s concerns. This will bring more transparency as everyone will have the same visibility on how much money has been collected and how it is used. Given that the platform is open source and open data, we could easily show a live counter with the current balance on the new global website (for example, here is a programmatic way to get the real time balance of XR Belgium: https://opencollective.com/xr-belgium.json)

I’ve been chatting with Caroline, Cecile and Liam from the XR UK fundraising group about that. The conversation is still ongoing. I hope to be able to provide some update on that later this week.

Independently of that conversation, you can already create an open collective for your local group like a few already did (see above). And if you've already created a non profit entity in your country, you can also use it to host other local groups in your region (and save them the pain of creating and maintaining a legal entity).

How to create an open collective for your own local group?

Just go on https://opencollective.com/create

If you need assistance, I’m happy to help (citizenspring@protonmail.com).

About Open Collective

It’s an open source platform that I started 4 years ago. The code base is MIT license and on Github (https://github.com/opencollective/opencollective).

It’s mostly used in the open source community to enable open source projects to receive and use money collectively and in a very transparent way (see a new way to fund open source projects).

It’s also used by networks such as Women Who Code which has 83 chapters around the world. It makes it easy to distribute funds from the global movement down to the different chapters that need money. It also enables local chapters to share one single legal entity so that accounting / legal can be mutualized and each local chapter can focus on their mission. See https://opencollective.com/wwcodeinc#hosting

As a core contributor of Open Collective and a member of XR (Belgium), I'm more than happy to help in anyway I can. If there are special feature requests, I can help prioritize them (or better, help you make a pull request!) :slight_smile: For example, with the feedback of XR UK, I'm currently finishing a pull request to make it easier to make anonymous donations.

Don't hesitate if you have any questions. If you've been using other tools to transparently manage your finance, please share as well. As long as it's open source/open data, we should be able to find ways to make them all work together and operate more transparently as a global movement.

- With love and rage!

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