GitHub Launches Sponsorship Program for Open Source Contributors

GitHub Sponsors is the new offering from Microsoft’s GitHub . Here are some highlights:

  • Open source project contributors, be it coder, maintainers, document writers, can accept recurring payment for their contributions
  • GitHub members can ‘sponsor’ the contributors a small amount per month
  • The feature is clearly inspired from Patreon and aimed at Patreon
  • Microsoft won’t charge any processing fee on the sponsored amount for the first year. They will charge a fee later on.
  • Microsoft will match the sponsored amount up to $5,000 in the first year of the sponsorship
  • The program is in beta right now and their is a wait list to join it.

Now let’s see the news in detail.

GitHub Sponsors: New program for Open Source contributors to get paid for their work

There are a lot of talented contributors and open source projects on GitHub which (or who) need funding. GitHub ‘Sponsors’ aims to help with that. Also, with GitHub ‘Sponsors’, it seems that it targets to become an alternative to Patreon. And, that definitely isn’t a bad thing.

Github Sponsors
Github Sponsors

Yes, we get the general idea of what GitHub is trying to achieve here. But, what exactly? Let us talk about some details.

How does this GitHub Sponsorship work?

You can support every eligible individual contributor on GitHub. They could be a teacher, a writer, or a programmer on GitHub. You don’t have to be a developer in order to be eligible, you just have to be a part of an open source project in some way, even if you help with the documentation part.

Github Sponsor Dev
Github Sponsor Dev

You just need to be a GitHub user in order sponsor someone.

Just like Patreon, there will be monthly recurring payments to support your favorite developer. In addition to this, there will be sponsorship tiers too. A developer can add something in return (some kind of early access or goodies) if they want.

However, for now, not every contributor can get a sponsored developer profile because it is limited to a few eligible contributors.

GitHub developers usually do not appreciate sponsorships to influence their work. So, when Tech Crunch asked about it, GitHub mentioned:

” Today, GitHub Sponsors will be launching in beta to get ahead of such concerns.”

They also mentioned:

“Through this beta we’re actively listening to how folks are using the new program. We want to better understand how the program evolves and how we can best scale the framework of the program to enable opportunities for everyone to participate in and build on open source.”

GitHub will match your sponsorships, for now

For the first year of a contributor opting in for ‘Sponsors’, GitHub will match up to $5000 to boost community funding.

Also, there will be zero fee for the GitHub developers. So, 100% of your sponsorships will go to your favorite developers.However, that’s just for the first year.

How to join GitHub Sponsors program

It is in limited beta right now. So, you have to join the waitlist in order to get approved as an eligible developer or contributor to receive sponsorships.

If you want more details on it, you can check out the official GitHub help page.

Wrapping Up

Here’s Abhishek’s comment on the topic:

This sounds like a good plan that will help open source contributors, isn’t it? It sure is but (in my opinion) it is also a new revenue generation for Microsoft. After one year, Microsoft will charge a certain percent as processing fee from each payment. With such a huge number of open source projects and contributors on GitHub, the ‘small processing fee’ will generate considerable money for Microsoft and thus it will help them recover part of the $7 billion it spend in purchasing GitHub.

With this new announcement, it will be interesting to see if GitHub alternatives like GitLab also launch similar program or not.

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Do you think this will be a good thing? Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  • for those who say “Microsoft is planning to earn money on other people’s work” should reconsider. Even now the only viable solution for income for open source work was donations. These were done through PayPal or Patreon. They both have fees and Patreon is more unstable than ever. What’s wrong with a new player being around? It’s more competition. After all the first year is fee-free and if fees become too big later devs can make the choice to go elsewhere (PayPal/Patreon). Does it matter that MS is gonna make some money? No, because that’s what corporations do, and because everyone will be happy; devs, supporters and MS alike. Stop hating on MS for no reason.

    • yeah that’s not hate for no reason, as always microsoft stuck their nasty fingers into the open source market, they’re up to something and looking at their dirty past when it comes to open source,i don’t trust them.i believe in the near future they’re going to own the linux kernel and open source will be done for.