Godot’s Graduation: Godot moves to a new Foundation
By: Juan Linietsky 1 November 2022
TLDR: Software Freedom Conservancy and the Godot leadership are excited to share their decision that the Godot project has reached a level of success for which it makes sense for Godot to have its own independent foundation.
When Godot was first open-sourced in 2014, it was a very small project mostly developed by Ariel and Juan. Even after open-sourcing, contributions to Godot were almost exclusively made by volunteers. Over time, and to our surprise, many users expressed a wish to contribute financially to the project to speed up development.
Creating a foundation at the time would have been too costly and difficult, so we turned to Ton Roosendaal for advice. Ton introduced us to the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), which is a charity located in New York.
The SFC was a fantastic fit for Godot. They work as a non-profit home for several high profile FOSS projects (such as Git, Samba, Wine, etc) and they have tested and proven rules to ensure that donations are only used for the benefit of projects, as well as rules to avoid conflicts of interest. They allow open-source projects to grow and prosper and focus on their project while the SFC handles non-profit governance, accounting, and legal issues (including successfully walking back on Non Disclosure Agreements to ensure that all our work can happen in the open); essentially aggregating the work required for the operation of a not-for-profit organization.
Ariel and Juan signed a fiscal sponsorship agreement with the SFC, allowing them to receive donations on behalf of the project. They also managed the creation and growth of the Godot PLC (Project Leadership Committee), formed by some of the most veteran contributors at the time.
Thanks to the SFC, Godot was able to become what it is today as many of its most prominent contributors were able to work part or full time, paid by donations. We were also able to meet in person thanks to their excellent policies for travel and hosting reimbursement. Without this, many contributors would not have been able to make it to events. They have also masterfully negotiated large donation grants by companies, ensuring that anything signed is beneficial to the project.
In all, from the Godot project leadership, we are immensely thankful and proud to have been part of the Software Freedom Conservancy.
Godot joined the SFC when the project was still in its infancy and its needs were fairly limited. Now the Godot project is many times larger, it employs multiple people, and it has more complex needs and aspirations. Accordingly, as the project continues to grow even more, it makes sense to have the control, independence, and flexibility in managing funds of an organization that is solely focused on Godot.
For this reason the Godot Project Leadership Committee (the PLC) and the SFC have agreed that it is time for the Godot project to leave its home at the SFC and form its own organization: the Godot Foundation. Like a lot of other Open Source projects (Blender and Krita, for example), the Foundation will be located in the Netherlands, which means Godot will be Blender’s neighbor! The structure of the Foundation is modeled after the policies of SFC, which will ensure continuity in the way Godot operates.
Why create a foundation?
As Godot keeps growing, so do our needs. Godot's size merits the flexibility of having its own organization and the opportunity to explore broader funding sources.
Examples of this are crowdfunding campaigns (like Blender or Krita do), the highly requested ability for users to sell assets on an asset library (and have a share going to the Godot Foundation), selling merchandise, and other types of funding. An independent entity will allow us to make decisions with solely Godot's benefit in mind, instead of as one of many important open source initiatives.
Having our own foundation will also project a stronger image of the Godot Project, which will allow us to have stronger footing when negotiating big donations with donors. The SFC has done a stellar job at negotiating for us so far, showing us how to ensure that the FOSS nature of Godot is never compromised in those agreements. We intend to continue with the same passion and dedication to FOSS that the SFC has shown us in all those years.
Ultimately, we want the Foundation to serve as a home for community initiatives, by allowing it to have its own funding lines (this means, so they can raise funding on their own for a specific goal, but the Foundation receives and uses it according to what was agreed), such as initiatives to promote education, communication and diversity.
We plan to regularly post public reports of our financial situation and the usage of funds, similarly to what the Blender Foundation does.
What will change?
From the perspective of the Godot project, not much will change. Governance/Financial decisions were previously made by the PLC with input from the advisor group. The PLC will become the Foundation’s Board of Directors, so it will be the same people, but just with a different name. Additionally, the SFC will be part of the new foundation in advisory capacity, to help us with this new adventure, and to ensure to you all, the community, continuity in the way Godot is managed.
This transition does not affect in any way the technical development of the engine, which is detailed in our Governance and Teams pages. The development process of Godot will not change with the Foundation.
The Godot Foundation is dedicated to creating Free and Open Source Software and to ensuring that work on the Godot project is sustainable. The Foundation’s Mission is to “financially support the growth, initiatives and activities of the Godot Engine project, an open-source project that provides a free suite of tools and educational materials around the Godot Engine.
The Foundation strives to help the Godot Engine continue to break down barriers to video game development and make it possible for everyone to create high quality video games, regardless of who they are and where they are located.”
Additionally, the Godot Foundation is adopting most of the policies from the Software Freedom Conservancy. Their policies worked very well and we can’t think of a better way to manage the subtleties and challenges that come with a non profit organization. From the composition of the board in respect to conflict of interest and transparency, to the fair usage of funding, we are committed to granting the same ethical quality as the SFC has ensured so far.
We have just started the process of moving to the Foundation. For now all of Godot’s funding and contractors are still managed by the SFC. The SFC will gradually reduce its work for Godot and the new foundation will slowly ramp up. Stay tuned for announcements in the future as we finalize the Foundation’s organizational structure and officially begin operations.
If you have any questions, please reach out to [email protected] We will compile a list of questions and update this page with an FAQ shortly after.
See the Software Freedom Conservancy's blog post to read more.