Excerpt from Dries Buytaert's blog post, Drupal road trip to San Francisco:
About six years ago I started working on Drupal. Drupal, at that time, was an experimental platform that helped me explore new web technologies from my student dorm. Contrast this with the present. Today, there are hundreds of people contributing to the project, building and relying on that foundation, and hundreds of thousands of people downloading it. What started as a hobby project is now starting to get on the radar of some of the bigger projects and players ... It is no longer the casual hobby project it used to be. It is fair to say that Drupal's growth makes for some interesting questions, both for me personally, and for the Drupal community at large. It makes me feel increasingly responsible, and that certainly adds some pressure. How to help run this thing as it continues to grow? Do we need a Drupal Foundation or not? How should I deal with my growing sense of responsibility?
His subsequent trip to San Francisco, during which Dries visited a number of high-profile people in the open source community, revealed that it was necessary to create some kind of centralized body who could help deal with the peripheral issues, such as hosting infrastructure, marketing/promotion, and event planning, in order to allow the Drupal project to remain the organic, healthy project that so many had come to rely on.
For the next several months, Dries Buytaert, Dries Knapen, and Steven Wittens, each long-term contributors to the Drupal project from the beginning, began hours of research, discussions with lawyers and accountants, and so on. From these talks, an initial set of statutes and by-laws for an Association was born. From these talks a Belgium non-profit, Drupal VZW, was created.
Drupal VZW was officially announced publicly during a talk by Dries Buytaert at DrupalCon Brussels in September of 2006. Initial Permanent Members of Drupal VZW were selected by Dries Buytaert and the other two core Association founders, and these Permanent Members then elected the first Board of Directors.
In July 2011, Drupal VZW board announced it was pursuing changes to its governance model based on the recommendations of the community and professional advice. The board transitioned from a working board to a policy-based board to provide the strategic direction and guidance the organization needed. As a part of this transition, the board of directors of Drupal VZW requested that DrupalCon, Inc. assume most of the responsibilities of the Drupal VZW.
Moving Operations to a U.S. 501c3
There were many reasons why the move to a U.S 501c3 was a good move for the Drupal Community. One of those reasons (aside from tax savings) was accountability. U.S. 501c3s non-profits are required by law to release their financials once per year (IRS form 990). Additionally organizations such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar are setup to monitor 501c3s. This immediately added two new levels of forced accountability previously not required of Drupal VZW.
In 2008 the local Drupal community organizing the 2009 DrupalCon in Washington, D.C. formed DrupalCon, Inc. to help with the organization of the conference. The Drupal Association, as a body of people and dedicated volunteers, has been at the center of the organization of these conferences. The organization pursued US 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, which was granted in August of 2010.
In July 2011 DrupalCon. Inc. formally assumed the business name "Drupal Association" and began acting as the legal body to support the worldwide Drupal community.
In October 2011, the Drupal Association set up an office in Portland.