Projects run as non-profit foundations

tldr: If you have an open source thing that benefits everyone, please consider running it as a non-profit legal entity!

Back in about 2006 through a series of events I ended up taking a course of entrepreneurship that dealt with investing, business thinking, etc. It was called “Success Academy” and I was hooked.

I went on to go to the weekly meetups that cost money, and we analysed a ton of material, including Trump’s Apprentice, first season. We watched every episode and the dissected it. The guy who held these was the same who held the course. We were told that he’s rich, and has figured all of those things out that he was teaching, because, you know, the best person to learn stuff from is someone who has gone through it and can teach from experience.

As time went on, it turned out, or I realised, that he might not be what he wants us to see. I reevaluated a lot of things, and I no longer agree with how Trump has been doing business. It’s just not what I want to do. I guess I got disillusioned about always having “show me the money!” first and everything else after that.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Lately I’m seeing companies pop up that are non-profits. The Ghost Foundation is one, and it is one of the main reasons I keep on contributing (currently working on getting rid of sendmail).

And now, Stellar Development Foundation has joined the ranks of tech companies that have projects that are not for profit foundations.

Why is this important?

To me, there are three different kinds of ventures. Economists and lawyers will undoubtedly correct me on this.

For profit

This kind of company exists to sell a thing or expertise. It is to solve a problem, satiate a need, or satisfy ego or patch an uncertainty of people. The end result is that it usually benefits a small group of people. They range from the mom and pop cornerstore muffin bakery to IBM et al. And it’s great, because everyone knows what it’s about.


There is a lot of controversy around these legal entities. In principle they should take a sum of money from the more affluent parts of the world and redistribute it to other parts of the world that need it in various forms. Teaching, clean water, ending diseases are all examples of this.


John wrote an excellent article about what it means to be a non-profit. Read that, I don’t have anything to add to it.

Seriously, read it! I’ll wait.

I kind of feel like I’ve just reblogged John’s article about this. In a way I did.

I hope that there will be a ton of other projects that will be run by non-profits so we can avoid instances where a seemingly open source project is run by a for-profit company.

I believe in transparency and honesty, and the fever “but why...” questions CAN be asked about the thing, the better.

If you have an open source thing that benefits everyone, please consider running it as a non-profit legal entity!