SPI using Google Apps?

Jimmy Kaplowitz jimmy at spi-inc.org
Fri Nov 2 18:12:41 UTC 2012

On Fri, Nov 02, 2012 at 10:52:58AM -0400, Hilmar Lapp wrote:
> > There is a more substantial technical obstacle to Google Apps NPO subscription: it is limited to a single domain and a single administrator.  So all projects who use an SPI-based subscription to Google Apps would be using @spi-inc.org, and SPI IT staff would need to
> > control accounts.
> I think that's an open question right now - I haven't heard a legally informed opinion (or a verdict from Google) as to whether SPI associated projects would or would not qualify as branches of an SPI umbrella. If they do, then each project can in fact have their own Google Apps account (and thus domain), though in the application one needs to link to the one for the umbrella (at least that's what I understood).

I'm not going to pretend to be a lawyer or speculate about whether SPI
associated projects meet Google's criteria for this purpose. However, in
normal, non-Google terminology, SPI-associated projects aren't "part" of SPI in
any way, not even as branches.

Indeed, they can even work with other US or foreign non-profits at the same
time if they so choose, or do some things in their own names as unincorporated
associations. They're separate groups that have entered into a specific
relationship with SPI where SPI can hold assets in trust for them and perform
certain actions on their behalf.  Unlike a branch of a company, if an
associated project acts outside of SPI, they can't act in our name or use our
501(c)(3) status for those actions.

Individuals whom SPI-associated projects consider to be their members
automatically qualify for SPI contributing membership, which allows them to
vote and run for the board of directors, as well as on anything else where we
ask our membership to vote. (Many such individuals would qualify for
contributing membership under our guidelines even if this weren't true.) This
is the closest our associated projects come to being "part" of SPI.

Everything I said is rather different for the Software Freedom Conservanancy,
which is a lot closer to the umbrella model. Again, not speaking to what
Google's criteria are here.

- Jimmy Kaplowitz
jimmy at spi-inc.org

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