I have been on a few other open source projects where they are considering taking donations but also hesitant about it due to the fact it can cause hardships and favoritism among other things, and the fact that transparency can often be a bugger and burden some. Does arudpilot disclose in any other form where donations are spent other than the proposal page.
As the ArduPilot SPI Project Liaison, I handle most of ArduPilot’s financials. All of our finances are managed through Software in the Public Interest, as the overarching legal entity, and are subject to scrutiny in accordance with SPI policy and the requirements for a 501© corporation. Each month, a summary is prepared and published online (October for ArduPilot is here: https://spi-inc.org/treasurer/reports/201910/#index3h4). Does that have the detail you are looking for? Basically, the two key recurring expenses are hosting (we have a number of servers, for the wiki, forum, autotest, firmware, backup etc), and Francisco part time (Bugmaster for ArduPilot [Approved] which gets voted on annually by the Dev Team).
Almost all of the ad-hoc spend is disclosed via the Proposals category here (in accordance with the guidance).
Thank you greatly for posting this information, as I have never seen this posted publicly or even stated in the wiki (which it should be). These links are some what hidden unless you know where to look. It would be nice if they were monthly put into a separate part of ardupilot, plus the categories are quite arbitrary and it doesn’t show who/what got what but just that you spent x amount on uavcan, or ankur this month. Transparency is key but currently unless you told us about that spi link and you are not a partner or dev, I have never seen that link publicly posted, thank you for the transparency it greatly furthers the project.
As a side note are partner contributions posted, and what they would like those contributions to go towards or what they are actually funding?
Noted re the wiki. Fortunately I know how to fix that https://github.com/ArduPilot/ardupilot_wiki/pull/2230
I don’t think we’ve ever published how much each Partner donates individually (although it is tracked internally). The gross numbers can be calculated through the SPI reports.
Donations, at present, can’t be linked to specific “things”, although we are looking at options to be able to do that. Some Dev Team members will prioritise feature requests for new Partners though, or as part of a consulting effort suggest that the client join the Partners Program.
I completely accept that the reports only detail what the spend is, not who it goes to. In the most part, the “who” is detailed in the Proposals category, and when awarded, Contribution of the Month winners. I’d have to discuss with SPI and the Dev Team whether details of who payments are made to can actually be made public in a simple fashion, and if it can, should it (for instance, some Contribution of the Month winners use nicks/handles both here and in github, so might not want their actual name published).
Pardon my ignorance but is ardupilot a non-profit entity? And if so how do you not disclose partner contributions? Things as they stand are not at all transparent! Also if folks are publicly posting on a forum then their nick/handles are now in public domain so that is not a case for withholding where funds went. Just like your license plate isn’t private plus many other thing folks may think are private aren’t. Again I’d also like to state that while doing a search of spi on this forum does not return any valid financial results until @james_pattison gave the link to that address linked above!
To clarify a little, SPI is the non-profit 501c entity, with ArduPilot “hosted” by SPI. This basically means that we have to abide by all the rules pertaining to a 501c non-profit, but the legal/governance overhead is shared by all the member projects of the non-profit (in the case of SPI, this includes projects like Debian, ArchLinux and LibreOffice). This is a pretty common construct for open source software projects, but I understand that the nuance isn’t necessarily obvious.
I’m really not trying to hide anything, but I have to meet the obligations that fall on us (through SPI as a 501c). For donations, there are some details here: https://spi-inc.org/donations/ which includes a statement that
Note that the identities of donors are kept confidential to SPI, and only disclosed to members of SPI. Some additional information, such as the donor’s city and state of residence, and amount and type (e.g., check or money order) of donation may also be disclosed to members of SPI. Donors’ full mailing addresses are retained by the Treasurer but may be disclosed to the SPI Board of Directors if circumstances require such disclosure. SPI does not sell the names or addresses of its donors to any party. SPI does not circulate the names or any identifying information about donors except among its own membership (which includes member projects). Members of SPI are expected to keep such information confidential.
All of the Partners are on our Partners page, and they’ve all donated between $1k and $5k. We don’t have a page that lists the individual/smaller donors. There’s not much more I can say really. These are important questions, and I hope you can see that whilst I haven’t been able to give you all the information you’re seeking, I’ve been open and honest about it.
Appreciate the honesty and providing links, have never seen many of them until tonight. So ardupilot is a 501c what 3 or 4, etc… so when i donate it goes to spi or ardupilot, are you or any other dev’s a member of spi who are on the “committee” of ardupilot or whatever you may call it, is also a member of spi?
Donations are made via SPI, and held in SPI accounts, but labelled for ArduPilot and managed as such. ArduPilot doesn’t have it’s own bank account.
I don’t know how many of the Dev Team are members of SPI. I am, and so is Tridge (who is also a Director of SPI https://spi-inc.org/corporate/board/).
The 501c(3) status letter is here: https://spi-inc.org/treasurer/SPI_501c3_status_letter_IRS.pdf