Digital Engagement/Participation, FinTech for public needsOpen Collective promotes financial transparency and collaboration while enabling organisations to work across borders
ABOUT OPEN COLLECTIVE
- Founded in 2015
- Total funding: $3 million
- Revenue growth from 2020 to 2021: 500%
- Investors include General Catalyst, Bloomberg Beta, Ricardo Gorodisch (President of youth-focused charity Foundation Kaleidos)
- No HQ; fully remote 11-50 FTEs
- Key executives: Pia Mancini, co-founder and CEO: previously started a political party in Argentina, founder of a Y Combinator-backed digital governance platform; Alanna Irving, COO: participatory tech and cooperative governance expert; Xavier Damman, who is no longer working at the company but remains on the board, also founded social media curation platform Storify.com, which was acquired in 2013.
However, there are still practical issues hindering the transition to a more digital existence. People still need to pay their rent, be employed, pay taxes; companies need to have legal structures, oversight, and pay taxes of their own. Open Collective aims to bridge the gap between the virtual world and legacy financial structures. Their financial management platform reduces the friction inherent to collaboration by making it easier to collect and spend money, including across borders, while promoting transparency. But the real innovation in Open Collective is in connecting ‘fiscal hosts,’ umbrella organisations that can hold third-party funds, and the community organisations that need a place to hold their funds.
Open Collective has developed a platform containing tools to help organisations – from local nonprofits and caused-based collectives to civic hackers and open source associations – collect, spend, and manage money. Groups can receive contributions, manage their expenses, and share their budget, and converse on community discussion forums. They can also generate monthly reports containing information about their goals, contributors, and expenses.
The code powering Open Collective is open source, and third-party developers regularly contribute through its GitHub page. Open Collective itself is also open: its financial documents, metrics, and growth plans are shared with the public. And organisations’ profiles on the platform are designed to be transparent, clearly displaying their financial information like inflows and outflows. This promotes accountability and collective financial oversight.
plans for 2022
Open Collective plans to move towards an “Exit to Community,” whereby the company is owned and governed by their stakeholders. They are rapidly scaling globally throughout the anglosphere and EU, which should enable this exit.
who should connect with this company
Decentralised organisations working across borders – from groups of international tech hackers and builders to nonprofits and community organisers – and the companies and individuals who would like to support them. Organisations such as Google and the Ford Foundation use Open Collective to identify and contribute to collectives and initiatives that align with their goals.
Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, a grassroots organisation, promotes solidarity and mutual aid amongst residents of its Brooklyn community. They use Open Collective to manage their finances, including recurring contributions from individual donors and other local organisations. The community can see who the top financial contributors are and analyse the collective’s budget. This stands in stark contrast to legacy financial systems, in which an organisation’s books are confidential and controlled by a few executives without oversight from all stakeholders. Bushwick Ayuda Mutua also leverages the Open Collective platform to engage with their community and publicise events.
Learn more by watching this explainer video from Open Collective.
Years ago, Argentine activist Pia Mancini founded a political party, Partido de la Red (Net Party), which aimed to use digital technology to disrupt legacy bureaucracies, with the aim of democratic improvement, in her home country. The shift to democratising financial systems on a global scale is a natural next step.
Open Collective is compatible with the principles of the rapidly-growing Web3 movement, which advocates for decentralised, collaborative networks. The platform accepts cryptocurrency donations. However, COO Alanna Irving differentiates Open Collective from some aspects of Web3: “Open Collective is focused squarely on solving the very hard and painful problems that crypto solutions try to leapfrog, namely how to interface with and work in legacy legal and financial systems.” In this way, Open Collective aims to augment and operate within the framework of states rather than to circumvent them.