Hiring Framework

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

Scope of paid work

Our priority is to keep OpenStreetMap’s core systems running smoothly. We‘re prepared to make use of paid work towards this end.

Additionally, we would like to support secondary software and services by enabling developers to spend more time on these projects than they could as volunteers.

We will continue to use paid administrative assistance, and contract with external specialists for legal and accounting tasks where this is sensible.

We want to avoid paid leadership or decision-making positions, and job titles which suggest such an authority, as they would significantly change the relationship between the foundation and the community. The Foundation itself will also not engage in paid mapping.


We prefer implementations of paid work which keep our administrative overhead low and give us access to talent from our international community. Our focus will be on:

  • contracting with individuals
  • contracting with firms
  • secondment

Especially for positions that help us provide core systems to the community, we may also consider permanent employment.

When contracting with firms, we will still apply the considerations described below to the individuals who would end up doing the work.

We welcome the support of local chapters to make it possible to access talent in their area of activity.

No matter the implementation, we will make sure that all people doing paid work for the foundation are treated equitably and that the foundation lives up to its social responsibility. To ensure our continued ability to cover work expenses, we will aim to keep one year’s worth of expenses in our savings.

Relationship with volunteers

OSM has given rise to a vibrant decentralized ecosystem. We want workers paid by the OSMF to collaborate seamlessly with volunteers and commercial actors. Workers will cooperate remotely, and through the same platforms that volunteer contributors to that team or project also have access to.

We strongly prefer not to create a paid position where it would displace or discourage volunteer engagement.

With the possible exception of peripheral duties such as accounting, people with an OSM volunteer background should be preferred when selecting candidates for paid work – because it demonstrates qualifications, trustworthiness, and we believe it is the right thing to do. Of course, hiring from previous volunteers is not always possible: For jobs that are necessary to keep OpenStreetMap’s essential infrastructure running, we may need to cast a wider net.

By looking for individuals whose volunteer work proves that they can produce results without close supervision, we hope to reduce both friction with the community and the need for management hierarchies or overburdening volunteers with micromanagement of paid staff.

Transparent service to the community

As a guiding philosophy, we try to balance the practical needs of paid work and a healthy work environment with the OSMF’s role of supporting, rather than controlling, the OSM project. Workers should therefore understand that, even though they report to the OSMF and the board in particular, their moral duty is to the OSM community.

Before deciding on paying additional people, the OSMF board will consider whether volunteers are available to fill the role, whether the activity falls within the scope of the OSMF’s mission, and whether the Foundation ought to offer (or continue offering) a particular service. The intention to enlist additional paid work, along with a job description and the board’s reasoning, will be publicly shared and discussed with the community. The board will assess community support by informal consultation before proceeding.

Workers will occasionally produce high-level reports on what they have achieved and spent their time on. To encourage transparency, these reports must be visible to the OSM community, not just to the OSMF board of directors. In our contracts with workers, we will refrain from using any confidentiality clauses that restrict workers’ freedom to discuss their work with the community; confidentiality will only be required where information security or privacy demand it. Workers cannot be expected to accommodate each community member, but we expect them to keep an ear on the OSMF’s community channels in general. They should not limit their communications to fellow team members and OSMF institutions.

If a contract ends, including because a worker becomes unavailable, it should not be replaced as a matter of routine. For many tasks, project-based contracts with a completion date may be preferable. We will be mindful of the risk of organizational bloat.