Nivenly Foundation Documentation

Introduction and FAQ for the Nivenly Foundation.

Hello and welcome to our FAQ page. Here are the most commonly asked questions about the Nivenly Foundation and membership. We cover a lot of the below FAQs on our launch blog post as well.


What is the Nivenly Foundation?

The Nivenly Foundation is a non-profit co-op that provides governance and legal support to open source projects.

Why is the Foundation a non-profit?

There are three main reasons for choosing a non-profit:

  1. Makes it easier for board members and other volunteers to work on the Foundation and its projects while also having their dayjob.
  2. Makes it easier to partner with other entities, both for-profit and non-profit.
  3. Makes it easier to prioritize the community needs over business needs.

Why is Nivenly a co-op?

We, the founders, believe that it is critical for members to have the ability to partake in decisions that govern Nivenly as well as decisions that will steward the future for the open source projects we choose to take on. This means that those who use, build, and finance the software and services need to have clear channels of communciation and well understood, easy to use, methods to make decisions.

What are the goals for the Nivenly Foundation?

The initial goals of the Nivenly Foundation are to provide our open source projects and servcies assistance with:

  • Managing funding
  • Community management
  • Decision-Making
  • Filing and holding trademarks for IP protection

How do I sign up to be a member?

There are three paths to membership with the Nivenly Foundation.

General Members

If you are an individual, you can sign up for membership on our Open Collective page.

Note that for general membership:

  • The membership fee is $7/mo. (USD)
  • General members vote directly in general elections.
  • All members must abide by the Nivenly Covenant.
Project Members

Project membership is only open to maintainers of current Nivenly projects. Each project manages their own maintainer onboarding and offboarding. In order to be a maintainer for a specific project, you must reach out to that project.

Note that for project membership:

  • There is no cost associated with project membership.
    • Individuals can have a general membership and be a project maintainer at the same time. This will not duplicate their vote.
  • Projects delegate a maintainer to sit in the Nivenly Senate and represent their project.
  • All members must abide by the Nivenly Covenant.
Trade Members

Trade memberships are for businesses, companies, non-profits, and other entities. If you are interested in being a trade member, please reach out to us at

Note that for trade membership:

  • Cost of membership depends on organization size. For more information please see our Governance page.
    • Individuals can have a general membership and be a member of / employed by a trade member organization. This will note duplicate their vote.
  • Trade member organizations delegate a representative to sit in the Nivenly Senate and represent their organization.
  • All members must abide by the Nivenly Covenant.

How do I submit a project to the Nivenly Foundation?

Projects are currently submitted by emailing us at When you submit a project, please include:

  • A complete description of the project.
  • What you need from us, for example:
    • Assistance with governance
    • Assistance with trademarks
    • Assistance with licensing
    • Assistance with networking for additional maintainers

Project requirements:

  • Project must already have a working release (it does not need to be a 1.0 release).
  • Project must have a clear scope of the problem space it is intending to solve.
  • Project must document how it is solving the inteneded problems in its scope.
  • Projects that handle data must have clearly defined and documented:
    • What data is being gathered
    • How it is being stored
    • How it is being protected
    • How the project implements consent
    • How the project handles any ethical concerns with the project data

Where can I buy swag?

The Nivenly Foundation Swag Store! Currently hosting swag for Nivenly itself as well as its projects Hachyderm and Aurae. Note that the product search bar is for the Nivenly store only, not sitewide for SpreadShop.

Where can I donate to Nivenly?

If you would like to donate to the Nivenly Foundation without becoming a member, we recommend using Nivenly’s GitHub Sponsors page.

⚠️ Donations are not the same as memberships. The above path is for supporting the Nivenly Foundation without partaking in the governance structure. If you would like to be a member, please use one of the paths to membership outlined above.

How can I help the Nivenly Foundation?

We are looking for projects and trade members that will help us test and iterate on all of our processes in our first year. This is to help ensure that they both function as we intend them to as well as don’t introduce unintended consequences or difficulties in their implementation.


Papers that the Nivenly Foundation has written or supported.

Project Applications

Submitted project applications. Note that not all applications are accepted.