Brief: We list out some funding platforms you can use to financially support open source projects.
Financial support is one of the many ways to help Linux and Open Source community. This is why you see “Donate” option on the websites of most open source projects.
While the big corporations have the necessary funding and resources, most open source projects are developed by individuals in their spare time. However, it does require one’s efforts, time and probably includes some overhead costs too. Monetary supports surely help drive the project development.
If you would like to support open source projects financially, let me show you some platforms dedicated to open source and/or Linux.
Funding platforms for Open Source projects
Just to clarify, we are not associated with any of the funding platforms mentioned here.
Gratipay was probably the biggest platform for funding open source projects and people associated with the project, which got shut down at the end of the year 2017. However, there’s a fork – Liberapay that works as a recurrent donation platform for the open source projects and the contributors.
Liberapay is a non-profit, open source organization that helps in a periodic donation to a project. You can create an account as a contributor and ask the people who would really like to help (usually the consumer of your products) to donate.
To receive a donation, you will have to create an account on Liberapay, brief what you do and about your project, reasons for asking for the donation and what will be done with the money you receive.
For someone who would like to donate, they would have to add money to their accounts and set up a period for payment that can be weekly, monthly or yearly to someone. There’s a mail triggered when there is not much left to donate.
The currency supported are dollars and Euro as of now and you can always put up a badge on Github, your Twitter profile or website for a donation.
Bountysource is a funding platform for open source software that has a unique way of paying a developer for his time and work int he name of Bounties.
There are basically two campaigns, bounties and salt campaign.
Under the Bounties, users declare bounties aka cash prizes on open issues that they believe should be fixed or any new features which they want to see in the software they are using. A developer can then go and fix it to receive the cash prize.
Salt Campaign is like any other funding, anyone can pay a recurring amount to a project or an individual working for an open source project for as long as they want.
Bountysource accepts any software that is approved by Free Software Foundation or Open Source Initiatives. The bounties can be placed using PayPal, Bitcoin or the bounty itself if owned previously. Bountysource supports a no. of issue tracker currently like GitHub, Bugzilla, Google Code, Jira, Launchpad etc.
3. Open Collective
Open Collective is another popular funding initiative where a person who is willing to receive the donation for the work he is doing in Open Source world can create a page. He can submit the expense reports for the project he is working on. A contributor can add money to his account and pay him for his expenses.
The complete process is transparent and everyone can track whoever is associated with Open Collective. The contributions are visible along with the unpaid expenses. There is also the option to contribute on a recurring basis.
Open Collective currently has more than 500 collectives being backed up by more than 5000 users.
The fact that it is transparent and you know what you are contributing to, drives more accountability. Some common example of collective include hosting costs, community maintenance, travel expenses etc.
Though Open Collective keeps 10% of all the transactions, it is still a nice way to get your expenses covered in the process of contributing towards an open source project.
4. Open Source Grants
Open Source Grants is still in its beta stage and has not matured yet. They are looking for projects that do not have any stable funding and adds value to open source community. Most open source projects are run by a small community in a free time and they are trying to fund them so that the developers can work full time on the projects.
They are equally searching for companies that want to help open source enthusiasts. The process of submitting a project is still being worked upon, and hopefully, in coming days we will see a working way of funding.
Tidelift is an impressive enterprise-focused solution that helps maintainers monetize their open-source projects.
You might have read about the $25m series B funding raised by Tidelift. So, it is indeed something that we’re keeping an eye out for.
Tidelift basically helps enterprises by providing a managed open-source subscription for a range of open-source tools that companies rely on. Normally, if you’re an enterprise, you would have to appoint a separate team to maintain/manage the open-source technologies you use. But, with Tidelift, you hire the developers/maintainers of the open-source projects indirectly to get involved to manage it for you.
This way, the developers get paid for improving their own tools and you get the necessary support as well. So, it’s a win-win.
Issuehunt is quite similar to Bountysource. Normally, when you contribute and fix an issue on GitHub or any similar platform, you may not necessarily be rewarded financially.
However, on Issuehunt, you can solve the issues and also get rewarded. And, at the same time, the owner of the tool/product will also be funded by Issuehunt and its backers.
You can also choose to fund/sponsor the open-source projects through Issuehuent by opting for a membership plan.
xs:code is fairly new to the scene. However, it plans to monetize your source code in general.
Open source is all about the source code, right? So, with xs: code you can limit access to your source code to premium subscribers. If someone wants access to your source repository, they have to opt-in for a subscription plan in order to access it.
This might sound bad, as in – “locking up the source code behind a paywall”. However, it is still something through which you can help fund the projects.
In the end, I would also like to mention Patreon. This funding platform is not exclusive to open source but is focused on creators of all kinds. Some projects like elementary OS have created their accounts on Patreon so that you can support the project on a recurring basis.
Think Free Speech, not Free Beer. Your small contribution to a project can help it sustain in the long run. For the developers, the above platform can provide a good way to cover up their expenses.