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Why are non-profits important for free software?

@conservancy Which type of non-profit are we talking about? 501c3 orgs are a little different from 501c6 orgs.

@cstanhope @conservancy Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) so I guess we are more interested in what folks think about charitable non-profits.

@conservancy I apologize if I am being too pedantic. I just wanted to be clear.

I agree with others in this thread, and I'll add my 2 cents.

For me, a 501c3 non-profit indicates a commitment and duty to a mission. If a free software project is organized as a 501c3 or is provided services from one (e.g. SFC), I generally feel more secure about the project's priorities and use of resources.

A 501c3 is also the only type of org I would be willing to assign copyright to.

@conservancy They give the opportunity to provide institutional protections to projects that would otherwise have to fend for themselves, in terms of accepting and holding assets.

Some entity needs to hold money, and sometimes other resources, in circumstances where doing so doesn't make sense for individuals.

@Software Freedom Conservancy @Boyfriend Associations like none-profits can also deliver solutions in none-competitive space, i.e. solutions that are beneficial to multiple sectors at once, but where common governance by one sector on behalf of other sectors is next to impossible for legal reasons, or the benefits are delivered on a different horizontal or vertical in collaborating sectors so it is unclear who should be the service provider and where to send the bill. Using FLOSS then allows complex and at times conflicting demands to be solved because of the freedom granted by the FLOSS licenses to do so.

@conservancy Because non-profits can be driven by *principles* ― not profit maximization 🤷

@conservancy Non-profits seem to me like a good way to pay people who do the "boring" parts of running a project: collecting donations, billing for work, dealing with legal issues, supporting users, paying for hosting and resources, arranging conferences. An umbrella org like the SFC might not do those things directly, but enables and helps a software project to get them done.

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