A non-profit for Funkwhale


As part as my ongoing effort to structure the project and reduce the bus factor, I’ve been thinking about the best setup for the project over the past few months.

Those are the constraints/requirements I have in mind:

  • It must make the project less dependent on me, and enable involvement from other people
  • It must enforce (or at least) allow for democratic decision making
  • It must be relatively low-maintenance, at least in the early stages
  • It must make it possible for me and potentially other contributors to earn a living
  • It must be legal
  • It must make it possible to receive donations
  • It should be something relatively common (to avoid surprises, especially legal ones, and get advice)
  • It should be able to scale, to welcome more participants

A first proposal

My current idea is to found a non-profit around the project (what we called an Association loi 1901 in France). This entity would be responsible for receiving donations (such as Open Collective ones), and making the project live:

  • Prioritizing development / features
  • Welcome new contributors / users
  • Organize events around the project
  • Make decisions and arbitrate possible issues / conflicts
  • Represent the project when it’s needed
  • Manage community spaces / tools
  • Etc.

I would work as a contractant for this non-profit and sumbit bills based on my work-time and the available funds. The non-profit would then pay me.


There are many things I like with this design:

  • Non-profits basically match the spirit of the project. We don’t sell or monetize anything.
  • This is a quite common setup in France
  • Non-profits can scale from a handful of members to thousands
  • Non-profits can receive donations, and are a legal entity
  • Depending on the chosen rules, non-profits can enforce transparency and democracy
  • It makes it possible to start small (with a small amount of donations) and scale as the volume increases
  • It clearly outlines my role in the project, as a contractant, I’ll be working for the project, as anyone else could do. If I ever need to leave, as long as the work I provide is fullfilled, nothing will collapse


Some things are still blurry or may be issues though:

  • A non-profit needs a bureau to work, so we’d have to find trusted people for that role
  • I may not be able to be involved as much as I would like in the non-profit life if I’m a contractant, to avoid conflict of interest. It’s actually a pro in my mind, but the early stages may be a bit weird of difficult because of that
  • I’m not sure how/if people from other countries can get involved in a french non-profit

I’d really like your input on this. You have quite some time, though, since nothing will move on this side until January. Let me know what your impressions are: does it look realistic? Have I overlooked something?