Nonprofit open source organizations booming

Salaries and revenues remain strong for top FLOSS organizations

By , ITworld |  IT Management

The Linux Foundation has received the most revenue amongst all of the free software and open source non-profits and directly pays its leader the most, but the highest compensation of any sort is still being received by Mozilla Foundation Chair Mitchell Baker, along with her CTO Colleague Brendan Eich.

According to the latest publicly available financial information, the Linux Foundation pulled in just over $9.6 million for their 2010 fiscal year, and after $9.1 million in expenses, generated $537,958 in positive cash flow for the year. In terms of direct salary, Executive Director Jim Zemlin topped out the list with $344,200. Factoring in other compensation, Zemlin brought home $362,904 before taxes in 2010.

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But Zemlin is not the highest-paid non-profit leader in the FLOSS community: the Mozilla Foundation generated the highest compensation levels for Baker and Eich who, while receiving no direct salary from the Mozilla Foundation, were compensated $589,953 each from "reportable compensation from related organizations" and "estimated amount of other compensation from the [Mozilla Foundation] and related organizations."

"Related organizations," in this instance, is the Mozilla Corp., the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation that generates much of the Foundation's revenue.

With a revenue of $1,934,659, the Mozilla Foundation ranked fourth of the eighteen FLOSS-related non-profits researched for this report. But with a net cash flow loss of $1,333,815 for the 2010 fiscal year, the Mozilla Foundation was next to last on money lost for the year.

All of this information was obtained from the Federal income tax forms all U.S. non-profits are required to file with the IRS. Specifically, Form 990 (or the 990-EZ when applicable). Thirteen of the non-profits have publicly available information for their 2010 fiscal years, with the other five's information only up to date to their respective 2009 fiscal years.

Given that we're in 2012, why the delay?

Part of the reason is the variations in fiscal years. If these are offset from calendar years, then this would be a reason for the extra time.

Non-profits have an additional reprieve: they can file a Form 8868 and get an automatic three-month extension for filing their returns, no questions asked. And, after that automatic extension, the non-profit can file for an additional three-month extension if they can show good reasons why.

So, this means that the Mozilla Foundation didn't file their 990 until Oct. 5, 2011 with the Linux Foundation filing in just before that on Sept. 31.

Dated as this information is, it paints an interesting picture of the state of non-profits across the community. As a whole, revenue seemed to be on the rise for these organizations and most of them seem to be in good fiscal health, even if they lost cash this year. Combined, the 18 organizations grew just shy of $6 million in assets during their respective fiscal periods.

Another telling piece of information that was obtained from the Form 990s was the "public support" percentage. "Public support," in this context, is the percentage of total revenue that comes in portions that are less than 2 percent of total revenue for the past five years. (The IRS's assumption being that any donation more than 2 percent could skew an organization's non-profit status.)

This percentage does not have to be reported for any organization that hasn't filed five years' worth of returns, nor does it to apply to business trade foundations, such as the Linux Foundation, or private foundations like the Linux Kernel Organization, which gets 100% funding from Google. But for those organizations that reported the public support figure, the Linux Expo of Southern California, Inc. group (which organizes SCALE and the Texas LinuxFest) came in the highest at a 99.68 percent public support figure. The Mozilla Foundation ranked the lowest, with a mere 14.71 percent public support figure--presumably because of the funds coming in from the Mozilla Corporation.

Most of the other non-profits on this list had public support figures in the 80-90 percentage range, with one surprising exception: a 45.3 percent figure at the Software Freedom Conservancy. At least 33.3 percent of funds must come from public support to qualify without exception to be a non-profit, so the SFC is in no danger there. Mozilla, though, has to explicitly state why it deserves to keep its non-profit status under a facts-and-circumstances test, which it does at length in its Form 990.

While this report is meant to be comprehensive, there are some notable omissions of organizations that are active in the FLOSS community. Both the LibreOffice Foundation and the KDE e.V. are based in Germany, and are not subject to U.S. IRS reporting (not to mention the LibreOffice Foundation is still too new to file anything anyway). The Eclipse Foundation, which is based in Canada, is absent for similar reasons.

What follows is an alphabetical listing of the 18 organizations researched, with pertinent data from each organization. The descriptions of these non-profits were provided on the Form 990s themselves, and definitely shed a little light on how these organizations perceive themselves and wish to be perceived. All figures are in US dollars, and all information comes from the Form 990s filed by the organizations for the specified tax reporting year.

Organization The Apache Software Foundation
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year May 1, 2010 - Apr. 30, 2011
Revenue $539,410
Expenses $405,482
Net cash flow $133,928
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $576,337
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $710,265
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $133,928
Public support % 88.54%
Volunteers 2,663
Principal officer Not Reported
Total compensation amount $0
Description To provide open source software that we create and sponsor to the public free of charge.

Organization Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2009
Fiscal year Oct. 1, 2009 - Sep. 30, 2010
Revenue $889,400
Expenses $1,081,171
Net cash flow ($191,771)
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $1,231,997
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $1,111,768
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss ($120,229)
Public support % 89.23%
Volunteers 1,606
Top compensation recipient: Peter Brown, Executive Director
Total compensation amount $82,145
Description The Free Software Foundation (FSF), founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free software, particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants--and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of ethical and political issues in the use of software. Current projects include GPL Version 3; the GPL Compliance Lab; the Free Software Directory; and Savannah, software development services provided to free software developers around the world. Additionally, FSF is committed to furthering the development of the GNU operating system, providing development systems for GNU software maintainers.

Organization GNOME Foundation Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2009
Fiscal year Oct. 1, 2009 - Sep. 30, 2010
Revenue $636,648
Expenses $384,379
Net cash flow $252,269
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $343,320
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $595,589
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $252,269
Public support % 99.54%
Volunteers 0
Top compensation recipient: Robin L. Peters, Executive Director
Total compensation amount $131,499
Description The Foundation provides charitable community benefit by broadening access to technology through the development and distribution of a usable free computer desktop software to people in countries around the world for who operable computers would otherwise have been unavailable of prohibitively expensive.

Organization Linux Expo of Southern California, Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $145,463
Expenses $112,747
Net cash flow $32,716
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $45,237
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $77,953
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $32,716
Public support % 99.68%
Volunteers Not Reported
Principal officer Ilan Rabinovitch
Total compensation amount $0
Description To provide educational and developmental training about Linux.

Organization The Linux Foundation
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $9,618,043
Expenses $9,080,085
Net cash flow $537,958
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $5,057,378
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $5,625,836
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $568,458
Public support % Not Applicable (Trade Organization)
Volunteers 0
Top compensation recipient: James Zemlin, Executive Director
Total compensation amount $362,904
Description Supporting and advancing the creation of a technical and business environment in the computer industry for Linux software.

Organization Linux Fund Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2009
Fiscal year Oct. 1, 2009 - Sep. 30, 2010
Revenue $163,353
Expenses $177,724
Net cash flow ($9,371)
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $86,083
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $76,212
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss ($9,871)
Public support % 99.34%
Volunteers Not Reported
Top compensation recipient: David Mandel, Executive Director
Total compensation amount $14,400
Description To promote the use and development of open source software, documentation, data, and other information.

Organization The Linux Kernel Organization
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $133,737
Expenses $62,395
Net cash flow $71,342
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $64,053
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $135,395
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $71,342
Public support % Not Applicable (Private Foundation)
Volunteers Not Reported
Principal officer H. Peter Alvin
Total compensation amount $0
Description The specific purpose of the Linux Kernel Organization is to provide equal and widespread access to the Linux operating system to the public and open source developers, educators, and researchers to enable communication in the area of Linux operating system development, education, research, and to stimulate the development of a free exchange of information about the Linux operating system.

Organization Mozilla Foundation
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $1,934,659
Expenses $3,268,474
Net cash flow ($1,333,815)
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $11,371,021
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $15,315,641
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $3,944,620
Public support % 14.71%
Volunteers 25,000
Top compensation recipients: Mitchell Baker, Chair; Brendan Eich, CTO
Total compensation amount $589,953
Description The mission of the Mozilla Foundation is to improve and protect the Internet as a public commons, by working with thousands of volunteers to (1) keep the Internet a universal platform and (2) promote continued innovation on the Internet.

Organization One Laptop Per Child Association Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $6,697,674
Expenses $8,613,860
Net cash flow ($1,916,186)
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $3,465,095
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $1,548,909
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss ($1,916,186)
Public support % Not Applicable (Trade Organization)
Volunteers 10
Top compensation recipient: Roberto Arboleda, Chairman/CEO
Total compensation amount $313,788
Description To design, manufacture, and distribute educational laptop computers to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing, and self-expression.

Organization One Laptop Per Child Foundation
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $8,368,989
Expenses $6,139,210
Net cash flow $2,229,779
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $707,038
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $2,936,817
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $2,229,779
Public support % Not Reported (First Five Years)
Volunteers 100
Top compensation recipient: Edward McNierney, VP Engineering
Total compensation amount $90,584
Description To develop and advocate for technological and pedological innovations and policies that ensure that every child in the world can have access to the most modern, robust, and connected learning tools.

Organization Open Source Applications Foundation
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar
Revenue $2,295
Expenses $12,628
Net cash flow ($10,333)
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $346,713
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $336,380
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss ($10,333)
Public support % 97.07%
Volunteers 20
Principal officer Jared Rhine, President
Total compensation amount $0
Description To conduct research and further the development of knowledge into the design of applications software. With a focus on software for non-technical computer user to use in their ordinary work and personal lives.

Organization Open Source Initiative
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $40,334
Expenses $11,879
Net cash flow $28,455
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $19,155
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $47,609
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $28,454
Public support % 99%
Volunteers Not Reported
Principal officer Not Reported
Total compensation amount $0
Description Not Reported

Organization Outercurve Foundation
Fiscal year reported 2009
Fiscal year Jul. 1, 2009 - Jun. 30, 2010
Revenue $1,000,971
Expenses $547,261
Net cash flow $453,710
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $0
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $453,710
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $453,710
Public support % Not Reported (First Five Years)
Volunteers 0
Principal officer Paula Hunter, Executive Director
Total compensation amount $0
Description The mission of the Outercurve Foundation is to enable the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities.

Organization Python Software Foundation
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $706,136
Expenses $655,466
Net cash flow $50,670
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $177,011
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $227,701
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $50,690
Public support % 85.65%
Volunteers 100
Top compensation recipient: Kurt B. Kaiser
Total compensation amount $29,654
Description To develop and control the Python.

Organization Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Mar. 1, 2010 - Feb. 28, 2011
Revenue $911,564
Expenses $650,733
Net cash flow $260,831
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $254,228
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $515,059
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $260,831
Public support % 45.30%
Volunteers 1,209
Top compensation recipient: Bradley M. Kuhn, President, Executive Director, and Director
Total compensation amount $15,000
Description Conservancy promotes, improves, develops, facilitates, & defends Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects, providing a non-profit home & infrastructure for its projects. Conservancy's projects include some of the world's most widely used software, such as: educational software for schools, integrated library service systems, & embedded software found in most electronic devices.

Organization Software Freedom Law Center, Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2009
Fiscal year Feb. 1, 2009-Jan. 31, 2010
Revenue $1,516,991
Expenses $1,547,286
Net cash flow ($30,295)
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $408,070
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $377,773
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss ($30,297)
Public support % Not Reported (First Five Years)
Volunteers 1
Top compensation recipient: Eben Moglin, President, Executive Director, and Director of Development
Total compensation amount $124,864
Description Provides legal resources to members of the free and open source software community.

Organization Software in the Public Interest Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $285,463
Expenses $254,385
Net cash flow $31,078
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $154,609
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $185,687
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss $31,078
Public support % 85.52%
Volunteers 1,200
Principal officer A. D. Barksdale Garbee II, President
Total compensation amount $0
Description Software In the Public Interest, Inc ("SPI") is a not-for-profit organization which was founded to help organizations develop and distribute open hardware and software SPI encourages programmers to use the GNU General Public License or other licenses that allow free redistribution and use of software, and hardware developers to distribute documentation that will allow device drivers to be written for their product.

Organization The Tor Project Inc.
Fiscal year reported 2010
Fiscal year Calendar Year
Revenue $1,336,308
Expenses $1,353,593
Net cash flow ($17,285)
Beginning net assets/Fund balance $347,476
Ending Net Assets/Fund Balance: $330,191
Net assets/Fund balance gain/Loss ($17,285)
Public support % 96.38%
Volunteers 3,000
Top compensation recipient: Andrew Lewman, Treasurer, Clerk, Executive Director
Total compensation amount $152,779
Description The Tor Project is organized and operated exclusively for scientific, charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including (a) to develop, improve and distribute free, publicly available tools and programs that promote free speech, free expression, civic engagement and privacy rights online; (b) to conduct scientific research regarding, and to promote the use of and knowledge about such tools, programs and related issues around the world; (c) to educate the general public around the world about privacy rights and anonymity issues connected to Internet use; and (d) to carry out and conduct such other activities related to the stated mission.

This article, "Nonprofit open source organizations booming," was originally published at ITworld.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Zettatag and Open for Discussion blogs and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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