The RESF is a self-imposed not-for-profit organization founded as a Delaware Public Benefits Corporation (PBC). We are not a US IRS tax exempt organization as we believe they are not well equipped to protect open source projects nor are they a magic pill for integrity and doing the right thing for the community at large.
When most people think of a “non-profit” in the US, they usually consider a 501(c)3. These are typically charitable organizations and they are intended to serve the public interest. But it has been harder and harder for open source projects and foundations to obtain a 501(c)3 designation from the IRS which seems to be “struggling with figuring out which of these projects are true to the spirit of 501(c)(3) requirements, and which are simply there to help sell products”. For this reason many projects have instead obtained 501(c)6 designations which are designed to promote common business interests among the corporate sponsors, boards, and members. Couple that with a “pay to play” model of selling of board seats for votes, and you can imagine how it would be possible to pivot control toward a few well funded companies or individuals. We chose not to go that route.
Should open source projects or Foundations even be US tax exempt? According to Simon Phipps perhaps not, as he describes here; "Maybe the answer is for open source foundations to get out of the nonprofit world. Tax breaks are fine, but they aren’t the primary goal of open source foundations. What matters to their communities is that they have transparent, equal governance that allows everyone to contribute to and benefit from the project without obstruction. The IRS does not warrant that; it’s a matter instead of community scrutiny.”
We agree and believe that what truly matters for a successful open source community is: transparency, open leadership, dedication to the community, longevity, community accountability, checks and balances, and growth with equal opportunity for everyone.
The structure we created was well thought out and designed to align with these goals to benefit the community at-large. The bylaws and charter solidifies our intentions, creates transparency, and the RESF welcomes community scrutiny and to be held accountable.