Announcing the Clojurists Together Foundation
By lvh and Daniel Compton
What is Clojurists Together?
Clojurists Together is an organisation dedicated to funding and supporting open source software, infrastructure, and documentation that is important to the Clojure and ClojureScript community.
As of late 2019, we (the Clojurists Together board) have formed a trade association, the Clojurists Together Foundation. Up until now Clojurists Together (through Clojars) have been a fiscal sponsoree of the Software Freedom Conservancy (Conservancy). Conservancy is a not-for-profit charity (501©3) that helps promote, improve, develop, and defend Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects.
Conservancy was instrumental in launching Clojurists Together as a grant program, funding 27 grantees $224,000 USD to date. As Clojurists Together has grown and succeeded in its mission, it’s become clear that it is ready for its own organization. Clojurists Together Foundation will be able to control more of its own operations on its own timeline. Unlike Conservancy, which is a charity, Clojurists Together Foundation is a trade association. We feel this describes the work we hope to do in the future better.
We’ve worked closely with lawyers to make sure we’ve gotten the details right: Clojurists Together Foundation has purchased the trademark from Conservancy and will be creating the new program under that name. Conservancy will spend the money they receive from the trademark sale along with the remaining assets they hold on Clojurists Together activities that are suitably charitable, until they hold no more of our funds.
This is mostly an operational measure. The big picture of the work we’re doing won’t change, just the legal entity behind it and the legal details of how we accomplish that. Clojurists Together Foundation will move forward with the same board members, same domain name, and the same overarching goal of funding and supporting software, infrastructure, and documentation that is important to the Clojure(Script) community.
What does that mean in practice?
Now that Clojurists Together is its own legal entity, we can be more flexible in the kinds of work that we sponsor. Over the last two years as we’ve talked to maintainers about applying, a few themes have come up:
Three months part-time is too long for some projects. Some maintainers prefer to work full time on their project on a more compressed time scale.
A $9,000 USD grant was too much for some people. They had a small amount of work that they wanted to do on their project, and wanted to apply for less money. Previously we had almost the same overhead whether we funded a project $3,000 or $9,000, and we didn’t have the bandwidth to support a large amount of small grants.
Clojurists Together is now able to be significantly more flexible. We’re opening up a survey and office hours over the next few months. We want to hear how Clojurists Together can best support the open source Clojure community. Send us your feedback on what kinds of funding would work best for you. Need server hosting covered? Looking to take an open source sabbatical? Let us know what would work for you. We’re going to be listening to your feedback, and will announce new ways we will be funding projects and maintainers in the coming months.
What our members are saying
Before the announcement we talked to some new and existing members about why they are Clojurists Together members. Here’s what they said:
“Clojurists Together provides an invaluable service to the Clojure community by supporting both unsung heroes of established projects (like Clojars and Ring) and brave new souls pushing boundaries and making Clojure’s ecosystem more vibrant and exciting.”
- Paul Stadig, Backend Software Engineer @ Clubhouse
“JUXT are proud to sponsor Clojurists Together, to support some of the many individuals who make the wonderful Clojure ecosystem what it is today.”
- Malcolm Sparks, Technical Director @ JUXT
“At Nextjournal we’ve benefited immensely from the work that Clojurists Together has funded so far, and look forward to continue supporting the community in this way.”
- Dieter Komendera, @ Nextjournal
We’d especially like to welcome new Filter member Clubhouse, and developer members Ryan Zebian, Niklas Heer, Aleksander Sumowski, Patrick Farwick, Mario Trost, Alexander Oloo, Paul Rutledge, and Sergey Shvets.
Summer Of Bugs
The first new program that we are working on is something we are tentatively calling “Summer of Bugs”. Summer of Bugs will award a number of micro-grant of $500 or $1,000 to people working to fix bugs, implement small features, write docs, or clean up issue trackers. You can read more about Summer of Bugs at the announcement.
Access to member data
Previously, our member data was commingled with that of other entities. This meant we did not have direct access to member details and had to do a lot of manual work for things like mailing out stickers.
Now that we are directly responsible for our finances, we are looking forward to being able to share more information about our revenue, expenses, and balance sheet.
When talking to businesses and individual members, a big theme that came up was the desire to use credit cards instead of PayPal. We are very excited to announce that we can now accept credit card payments and US wire transfers. At this time we don’t plan to support PayPal due to the operational overhead that they require, though depending on demand we may consider it. If there is a payment method you’d like to use that we don’t support, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.
What does that mean for me?
One difference is that the Conservancy is a charitable organization, specifically a US based 501©3. Clojurists Together Foundation is a trade association incorporated in Delaware. We have been awarded 501©6 tax-exempt status, similar to Ruby Together and the Linux Foundation.
After speaking with tax and legal professionals we expect this will have minimal impact on our members. Note that payments to the Clojurists Together Foundation are not charitable donations unlike those made to Conservancy, but they are likely still tax-deductible for many of our members. We recommend talking to your tax professional for specifics.
What do I need to do?
We are not able to transfer any payment authority from PayPal to the new organisation, so you will need to sign up again with Clojurists Together Foundation directly.
If you are a current Clojurists Together member, you should have received an email inviting you to set up an account and add your card on the Clojurists Together website. This site will also let you view invoices and manage where emails for surveys, news, and invoices are sent.
Once you have signed up, you will need to cancel your payments with PayPal. We have instructions for how to do this. If you don’t cancel, Conservancy will cease to accept donations on our behalf and cancel your recurring payments on June 1, 2020.
If you would like to join Clojurists Together, you can sign up as a Company member, or a Developer member.
For those paying close attention, you may remember that Clojurists Together has annual elections that are normally held in November. Due to our change in legal structure, we’ve delayed the elections until mid 2020. We will hold elections for the four seats that are up for reelection soon.
Annual general meeting
One of the responsibilities of a trade association is to have an annual general meeting (AGM) of the members. This will allow a formal place for members to bring ideas, questions, and concerns to the committee. We’ll have more information on this once we announce our first AGM.
What happens to the funds still at Conservancy?
For legal reasons related to their charitable tax-exempt status, the Conservancy can’t just transfer our funds to the new legal entity. Therefore, we’ll be using up the remaining funds by making grants from the funds still at the Conservancy. We’re expecting that soon there will be virtually no new funds added to our accounts at Conservancy. Hence our relationship with the Conservancy will be concluded within approximately a year.
You can view our founding documents on GitHub at clojurists-together.
We’d like to thank Ruby Together, which served as a model for our new organization. In particular, we’d like to thank André Arko (Ruby Together’s executive director) who gave us tons of advice, insight and referrals that helped us set up the new legal entity.
We’d like to thank Conservancy and Karen Sandler for their help in getting set up, and starting Clojurists Together.
Lastly, we’d like to thank all of the members of Clojurists Together, both current and former. We’re deeply grateful to everyone who has supported the work we’ve done, filled out surveys, sent us feedback, given us money, and shared the work we’re doing with others.
We are very excited for the future of Clojurists Together, and look forward to being able to support the Clojure community even more.