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Creating your own foundation is a huge amount of work. I think you would benefit from doing this research, and I'm not going to tell you "don't do it" because it won't be convincing, but I predict that in the end you will not choose to start a foundation.

There's a chapter in Van Lindberg's Intellectual Property and Open Source on this topic. (It ends with a discussion of umbrella foundations like Apache, Eclipse, Software Freedom Conservancy.) Check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Intellectual-Property-Open-Source-Prot...

I've never thought of a nonprofit as a foundation. Are they equivalent?

The primary appeal for me as a nonprofit is declaring unequivocally that profit is not the goal of the project, and to facilitate donations to support ongoing development. I am aware of the need to establish a board; I've been a board member on a nonprofit, and I've been involved with nonprofits in a number of other roles as well.

I think of a foundation as an umbrella organization, much different than a small nonprofit. Is there anything fundamentally off about my understanding?

"Foundation" is just a part of a name, in the US at least. There are definite connotations to using Foundation in your name, like those you described, but anyone can use it. Conversely, nonprofits can be of near any side, from a local community entity doing volunteer work, all the way up to big entities like planned parenthood. So, they're not equivalent, and do in fact have tendencies for a large amount of overlap.

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