The WP Community Collective (WPCC) officially launched today as a new nonprofit organization dedicated to funding individual WordPress contributors and community-led initiatives. It was founded by Sé Reed, Katie Adams Farrell, and Courtney Robertson.
The organization was created to address some of the challenges of contribution, where larger companies tend to have more resources to sponsor contributors, while individuals and smaller companies may struggle to balance their ability to volunteer with the need to make ends meet.
One of the primary ways the WPCC aims to support contributors is through Fellowships. This is an agreement where individuals receive financial support for their contributions to WordPress with global pay parity. They will also engage in professional development and are encouraged to participate in regional WordCamps as attendees, speakers, and/or organizers with expenses covered by the fellowship.
The fellowships are an interesting concept, designed to incubate high quality contributors who are connected to the community with a well-rounded set of expectations that are not narrowly limited to the code produced.
WPCC aims to identify areas where the community is underrepresented or contribution is needed and fund Fellowships in those areas. The first fellowship they plan to fund is for an Accessibility contributor, who will dedicate 5-10 hours a week to work on the Make WordPress Accessibility Team and its existing accessibility initiatives.
“The Accessibility Fellowship will be a bit of a test, in terms of fundraising and response from the community,” WPCC co-founder Sé Reed said. “Accessibility is an easy place to start because the community already knows it is important and we have contributors who are doing crucial work without any monetary support.”
WPCC is using Open Collective as the fiscal sponsor for its 501(c)3 status, enabling donations to be classified as charitable giving, which is in many cases tax-deductible. All transactions that run through the organization are transparent and publicly documented on the organization’s transactions page.
Reed said the tipping point for her team to get organized to make this happen was a tweet from Matt Mullenweg shortly after the 2022 WordCamp US, where he responded to people calling for users of assistive technology to be paid for testing Gutenberg.
“His statement in that tweet really made two things clear to me,” Reed said. “One, that this funding concept would not be in conflict with the work of the WordPress Foundation or the official project, and two, that if we wanted something like this to happen it would have to be done as an independent entity.”
The WPCC founders joined in on a recent WPwatercooler podcast episode where they shared their contributor stories and why they started the organization. One of their commonalities was a sincere desire to contribute more but not enough time in the day. With very few sponsored contributor positions available, volunteering is not always possible, resulting in the project being led primarily by sponsored contributors.
“We hope that the WP Community Collective can help bridge the gap between the passion people feel for WordPress, and the very real and practical limits of volunteer contribution,” Reed said.
WPCC is starting out with a small governance team that consists of the three co-founders but plans to expand the organizational structure to include more community representation, including an Advisory Board with a permanent seat for the Executive Director of WordPress.
People who want to support the WPCC can join with an individual membership for free to stay up to date with the organization’s activities. Check out the podcast episode below to meet the co-founders and learn more about the initiative.