Sustainability & financials

Crossref is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization. We are governed by a board of directors that our members elect. One of the critical roles of the board is to approve our annual budget and monitor our financial performance.

Sustainability at Crossref

Revenue from Crossref’s annual dues and services sustains operations. We strive to meet the five sustainability goals from the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure:

  • Time-limited funds are used only for time-limited activities – day-to-day operations should be supported by day-to-day sustainable revenue sources.
  • Goal to generate surplus – it is not enough to merely survive. Producing a small surplus allows us to respond nimbly to opportunities or weather economic downtimes.
  • Goal to create a contingency fund to support operations for 12 months – generating an operating surplus also allows us to create a separate fund that could support operations for a year.
  • Mission-consistent revenue generation – any revenue we generate must be mission-aligned and not run counter to the aims of the organization.
  • Revenue based on services, not data – data related to the running of the research enterprise should be community property. Appropriate revenue sources might include value-added services, consulting, API Service Level Agreements, or membership fees.

Our financials

In recent years, we operate on a budget of around $10 million (USD). About one-third of our revenue comes from annual dues (e.g., membership fees, subscriptions) and two-thirds from services (e.g., Content Registration, Similarly Check document checking). Our fees are set and reviewed by the Membership & Fees committee, which includes our staff, board, and community members. This group also created a set of fee principles which were approved by the board in 2019.

About two-thirds of our expenses are related to people - staff, benefits, and contracted support. One-third of our costs are everything else - hosting costs, licensing fees, events, and costs to do business like banking fees and insurance.

Each year we strive to generate a small operating net and have been able to do so nearly every year.

We also maintain a reserve fund to support long-term sustainability. An Investment Committee was formed in 2021 to update our investing policies, and we will share more later this year.

Below is a look at how our operations have changed over time.

10-year financials

Annual reporting

As a not-for-profit, we are tax-exempt, and to maintain that status, we undergo a financial audit each year by an independent accounting firm. Our auditors prepare our Form 990, which the US IRS requires and is made publicly available. It gives an overview of what we do, how we are governed, and detailed financial information.

Below are our recent Form 990s.


Page owner: Lucy Ofiesh   |   Last updated 2021-June-02