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Article: The Economics of Open Source Donations

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Donations play a crucial role in supporting Free and Open Source Software projects. At times readers will write in to share their positive experience with a utility or program or a distribution that I have written about. Now don't confuse them with your average technical-bent-of-mind Linux user. These are accountants, home-office businessman, and even carpenters and plumbers, who've saved a lot of money thanks to open source software. And they have one question in mind -- how do I help the person behind the program?

This month, Packt columnist and open source enthusiast Mayank Sharma explores the economics behind open source projects, what they do with their donations and how crucial they can be to their future.

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Only 2 people have ever donated to one of my projects. I admit I didn't ask very aggressively because I doubt it would have helped. The projects is not well known, and has received no press coverage ever. At the same time I do not want to complain too much, because the costs (as in cash money) of keeping that project up are very small.

I wish more people would donate to so we wouldn't even need to ask them via the fundraisers. We would still need to thank them and tell them what it was spent on... But for the time being we must ask them to donate it seems.

Trying to think about it, I dont think I have ever donated to an open source project. Unless you count buying official CDs straight from the freebsd guys. Or time submitting bug information.  :huh:

I have donated to freeware authors, I have donated to websites I find worthy, but I dont think I have ever donated to open source.

But then the only open source stuff I use are the large, old, server-ey projects which have funding from large corporate sponsors or a company behind it extracting money from support contracts.

Ah yes, there was postfix! I did donate a tad to that.

But still, I should think about the few open source small projects I still use and support them a little. After all I complain enough most open source lack polish because volunteer programmers hate the parts of the job which are usability and tying loose ends etc. So supporting the few I use which are polished (winmerge, peazip...) is a good idea. And I should get the company to donate/buy support for some they use, perhaps.

This thread made me go and donate to the winmerge project  :Thmbsup:
Peazip doesnt seem to have a donate link/option anywhere

One more thought - this was on the website of a publisher, packt.

I think it would be good form if all these publishers and authors who make a nice living writing books about open source projects would donate/contribute to said projects. In some cases it happens cause the author is on the project but often the author nowadays is just someone who made a pitch.

After all they have no more income if the projects die, so it's not only a 'fairness' requirement but good commercial sense


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