[hackerspaces] Governance questions

dosman dosman at packetsniffers.org
Thu Oct 17 19:39:55 CEST 2013

It's worth noting that a for-profit company is free to have a "board" and operate just like a non-profit at the political layer if they so desire (the exception is how taxes are handled of course). The only difference is that legally the owner of the LLC/etc. is on the hook for legal stuff where as a non-profit would have the "board" sharing that liability. Also you need to be able to trust the owner('s) of the LLC will not walk away with the money, but they are tied to the debts and contracts too (rent, utilities, etc) so it's not in their best interest to not do something bad like that. But there's nothing stopping an LLC from running however they want and with as much politics as desired. It's just not common.

Bloominglabs started as an LLC with the intent to become a non-profit assuming things didn't crater into the ground. We had bylaws that governed how we operated, had typical board positions taking on responsibility, etc. We're now a non-profit. It made it even easier to transition because we had been maintaining our bylaws during this time and generally behaving like a non-profit anyway.

1) We are fiscally sponsored by the School Factory, but we are working towards getting our own 501c3 status as they are not an umbrella organization. We only worry about our own problems, we don't oversee any other groups for financial or governance purposes.
2) I think some of this is usually regulated by state law, we follow Indiana's rules for this (yearly elections for board positions, monthly and yearly board/member meetings, etc.)
3) We are a community group which identifies with maker/hacker culture. The most involvement we had with Make was when we looked to put on a Maker Faire. Once we saw it cost somewhere near $700 to use the Maker Faire name we opted to call ours Makevention so we could actually afford to make it happen.
4) Really it seems the only thing outside groups look for is consistency, what your culture is about, and how you interact with others. We've consistently provided a fun environment for learning and we are well received within our town. This has made local sponsorships and donations easy to come by when needed.


On Oct 16, 2013, at 5:11 PM, Randall G. Arnold wrote:

> Sorry to be so active on the list today... but one of my recent questions about operating philosophies is still an issue and I'm looking for data.
> For those of you run as nonprofits, I'm hoping you can answer some questions for me:
> 1) Is your foundation tied specifically to a space, or operating in support of one or more spaces in an area?
> 2) How are your Board members elected/selected?
> 3) What are your thoughts on your connection to the Make community-- are you a representative body?  Corporate-styled authority? Separate but supporting?
> 4) If you take a bottom-up, grassroots, community-first approach to governance, have you found that to be a hindrance for sponsorships and donations?
> Thanks to any and all respondents.
> Randy
> Tarrant Makers
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