Thu 24 Oct 2019 6:05PM

Liberapay as an ethical alternative to OpenCollectives

JLA Javier Leandro Arancibia Public Seen by 61

Hi there,

I just wanted to mention Liberapay. (https://liberapay.com/)

I think is a more fair solution in comparison to OpenCollectives.


  • The platform is free software, available for self-hosting. (https://github.com/liberapay/liberapay.com/)

  • There are no fees for using the platform official server, beyond payment processors fees.

  • The development of the platform is supported only from donations, using the same platform (https://liberapay.com/Liberapay/)

  • The platform is backed by a french association (the natural evolution for any french association is to become a cooperative SCIC/SCOP)

My thoughts

  • OpenCollectives is backed by a classical company and it has a profitable business model behind the scenes. They already collected 3M from private investors. But they have the cheek to also accept donations inside their own platform.
    I think a solution like Liberapay is closer to the values coming from the Platform coop movement.

Your thoughts?



Graham Tue 29 Oct 2019 7:21AM

Thanks for flagging up Liberapay. I've come across it before, and your post prompted me to take another look at it. It appears to be a very straightforward way for people and groups to list themselves and receive donations. That's all fine. I guess Platform 6 could make use of this tool.

I think we chose Open Collective because of the way it enables projects (including new projects that could become cooperatives) to start working with money, receiving supportive payments from members and supporters, and spending those funds on relevant expenses, all without needing a bank account, and in a transparent way. I'm not sure that Liberapay offers the same transparency in how funds are spent.

As far as I'm aware, the software that runs Open Collective is open source and can be self hosted, although I'm not certain of the licensing that is used so whether it counts as 'free' or not I'd need to check.

There are fees for using the hosted service, and it's my understanding that the clear goal is to develop Open Collective into a sustainable business, which seems a reasonable aim. A platform that is funded solely from donations might be sustainable, but feels fragile to me, and personally I think a relationship based on fair trade has a better chance of surviving and thriving.

In my exchanges with OC team members, I understand that they are both very supportive of the cooperative model, and actively interested in OC itself becoming a cooperative. One member of their small team – Alanna Irving – was previously part of Enspiral in New Zealand, and is closely aligned with the cooperative movement.

Yes, Open Collective has sought and secured funding from external investors. I'm not privy to all of the details on that arrangement, but I am aware that a key funder is Purpose Capital, which doesn't take an equity stake and is more of an impact investor than a traditional venture capitalist.

While both Liberapay and OC offer broadly comparable services, it's my view that OC offers a significantly better fit for us in terms of its service offering. While the fees are a downside, I don't see any fundamental ethical or principled differences between Liberapay and OC.

If Liberapay was structured as a platform co-operative itself, such that Platform 6 as a user could also be a member then I am sure we be more likely to consider using the service, if it met our needs.


Jeff Regino Tue 29 Oct 2019 2:06PM

I've seen the list of investors before. Purpose Capital is probably the only one among (all or the big) investors who doesn't take equity. And Armin of Purpose Cap only provided $40k (based on OC's disclosure).

The OC page which shows this investors list has been removed sometime this year (if not earlier), or the page URL has been changed.