When an Open Source project arrives at a certain size the discussion about creating an organization / foundation may come up.

It seems however that the common practice is to join an umbrella organization (FSS, Apache SF, etc) for FOSS instead of creating a new one.

Looking at this process the following question arises (to me):
What are the advantages and disadvantages of joining an umbrella organization?

Similar question: When is it necessary for an open source project to be backed by an organization - it seems to only touch on the fund-raising benefits of an organization/foundation in general.


A foundation will have a lot of overheads so similar projects joining together can be more efficient. Both monetary overheads, such as paying lawyers, insurance, accountants, auditors; and time commitments, such as meetings, applying for tax deductible status, compliance issues.

Joining a foundation also lets you take advantage of the expertise of others. You can borrow policies (privacy, copyright, licensing, code of conduct, potentially even something like child safety, etc), and procedures (contributor licensor agreements, server management, invoice reimbursement.)

Many foundations let individual projects operate largely autonomously, within the above structures and policies. If a project has its own community presence then there probably aren't any downsides to joining a hands-off sort of foundation that provides legal support and not much more. But if it's the sort of project that would benefit from cooperating with sister projects, or if it wants the foundation to draw attention to it, then it may find that a smaller, more focused/topical foundation is better than a larger generic one.

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