SPI and the Linux Debit Card

Todd Lisonbee toddlisonbee at fastmail.fm
Thu Oct 7 18:52:02 UTC 2004

On Thu, 07 Oct 2004 10:59:24 -0700, "Bruce Perens" <bruce at perens.com>
> Todd Lisonbee wrote:
> >Non-profit motives,
> >intentions, and actions does not make one legally a "non-profit".  We
> >were calling ourselves a non-profit which I found out was wrong.  We
> >took the website down while we figure things out.  I have found out I
> >can legally bring the website back up if we don't call ourselves a
> >non-profit and send apologies to all of our cardholders but before I do
> >so I am hoping I can find a "real" non-profit to be our fiscal sponsor
> >so that nobody has any doubts about us trying to do the right thing.
> >  
> >
> Ugh, that's messy. Currently you are probably an unincorporated 
> association operating not-for-profit but not a legal non-profit.


> I think you need to consider the degree of risk to SPI this project 
> presents, and the corolary that it would need a lot of attention from 
> us. It would probably have a larger legal load associated with it than 
> anything we've done, requiring additional pro-bono counsel, as well as 
> requiring some attention from non-attorney managers who understand some 
> issues you're only just learning about. Without that, we would not be 
> able to avoid problems like the one you've already had. There is 
> personal risk to all SPI directors as well as risk that SPI could lose 
> the copyrights and other property that it currently owns, and its 
> assets, in a lawsuit.

These are excellent points.  I did not consider the risk that this could
bring to SPI.  If there was the possibility that this project could
interfere with other SPI projects then it definitely is not worth the
risk and it would make sense for Linux Debit Card to become its own
non-profit corporation.

Perhaps we could briefly check into Fiscal Sponsorship and whether or
not SPI would incur any liability from this (since Linux Debit Card
would still be a separate organization).  I suppose either way there
probably isn't much motivation for SPI to get involved in this.  Thank
you for your response.  Any advice?

> If we're going to put in the effort to do that, I'm not at all sure that 
> the company you are working with is the one we'd want to go with. 
> Although they are trying hard, there are only a handful of companies in 
> my neighborhood who take their card to date - and it appears that is 
> true elsewhere too. So, I suspect that the revenue from this project 
> might not be commensurate with the risk.

The network is expanding rapidly so I do not believe this will be a
problem for long but yes, you are correct.

Thank you,

Todd Lisonbee

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