Ask HN: How to donate $1k to open source?

49 points | by schafele 9 days ago


  • samspenc 8 days ago

    I would like to slightly disagree with some of the posts here that say $1000 may be too small or not have much of an impact...

    I think of it this way, no matter what you give, it's a great start. While I have open-sourced some of my apps and libraries, none of them got popular (except for one CakePHP plugin that had all of 64 stars and as many forks on GitHub way back in the day). But I think I would be excited with whatever folks donated, it's a shot in the arm, and more than the money, a validation that something I did contributed positively to society and was useful to someone else.

    Secondly, if 1000 people thought like you did and donated $1000 each ... that's $1 million there, enough to hire 5-10 folks to work full-time on that project. And if all the big cos (I'm looking at you, FAANG) could donate five or six figure dollar amounts to all the open source projects they use (a rounding error in their annual revenue / incomes), open source might actually be a sustainable model, and a win-win for everybody.

    • feross 8 days ago

      If you use Node.js, then you can run `npx thanks` to see which of your dependencies are seeking financial support.

      Demo GIF:

      GitHub repo:

      P.S. I am accepting donations here:

      • andrefuchs 8 days ago

        How about using GitHub Sponsors, OpenCollective or Patreon?

        • schafele 8 days ago

          thanks andrefuchs for the links, I wasn't aware of OpenCollective. If I get it correctly I still have to manually find all collectives that I want to support and send them money. So if I want to support 100 projects and I'll have to do 100 transactions?

          • jermaustin1 8 days ago

            Donating to 100 projects will be hard to manage, and with only $1000, it would be better to give that to 2-5 projects at most, since $10 would barely cover a month of hosting.

            It is noble to want to help 100 projects, but with limited funds, it would go further on only a couple projects. Think, new laptop, a few months of their CI/CD service, etc.

          • lathiat 8 days ago

            Also Tidelift which specialises in supporting maintainers of your stack:

            • girzel 8 days ago

              There's also Liberapay:

            • IvanK_net 8 days ago

              I would recommend to choose one library, that is especially important to you, and that you think could be underpaid, and send it to them directly. If everybody does so, other libs will get paid by other donors.

              I would recommend to avoid services, which "redistribute" donations. Such companies need to keep a part of money for themselves as running costs, and it is often not clear, if they keep 1% or 90%. And the way they decide who gets what, also might not be clear. I am not saying they are corrupted. I am just saying the transparency is lost with each "man in the middle".

              • schafele 8 days ago

                I agree, that is definitely a good way to donate money. It is just that I heard "The software that is the easiest to build -- the software that is the easiest to fund the development of -- tends to serve those who are already extremely well-served." in and I thought that there might be a smater way to "redistribute" the money.

              • fsflover 8 days ago

                One possibility is to donate to Free Software Foundation [0]. They are very efficient [1] and they support many FOSS projects [2].




                • markvdb 8 days ago

                  Umbrella organisations would do. There's FSF, FSFE, Software in the Public interest, Software Freedom Conservancy, and more.

                  ...or ... <shameless plug>You're always welcome to give it to us: :-) </shameless plug>

                  FOSDEM is a huge yearly free and open source developer conference since 20 years. Have a look through our video archives to get an idea of what you'd be supporting.

                  P.S. Our overhead is basicly zero because we're all volunteers.

                  Edit: s/meta/umbrella/

                  • einpoklum 8 days ago

                    The Free Software Foundation is not just a meta organization: It's the organization behind GNU! and GNU is a _lot_ of free, and many fundamental, piece of software.

                    Donate to them here:


                    • markvdb 8 days ago

                      I do know the work of the FSF fairly well and respect it. My comment was in no way meant to belittle their achievement, quite to the contrary! Feel free to s/meta organisation/umbrella organisation/ or whatever sounds more accurate a description to you.

                      • Is this donation tax deductible?

                    • jrockway 8 days ago

                      I think you need to be more specific about what your goals are. Is there a particular project that you make heavy use of? Is there a particular area of projects that you care about? Is there a particular ideology that you care about?

                      In terms of impact, paying for $1000 worth of consulting on an open source project that you use is probably where it's at. "I really want bug #1234 fixed." Pay someone $1000 and it's fixed. (For a bug that takes a day or so to fix, that is.)

                      • jonas_kgomo 8 days ago

                        would you welcome a platform that specifically open bounties on issues?

                      • scrollaway 8 days ago

                        If you were to donate $1000 to "open source", not much would actually get anywhere useful IMO.

                        On top of this, as a company, donating is… complicated. If you can do it, great, but it's often easier to find a project that has a support contract and pay for that. It gives you a real and justified expense and is in general more stable income for the devs.

                        Furthermore, a renewable contract gives the project predictable income, which is instrinsically worth more to the project.

                        If you have $1k and just want to give it away once, and want it to end up in open source, I think what's best is you pick your personal favourite project and double check they both need and can take the money (then move down the list if they don't). But if you can afford to give a recurring donation, go that route instead! Patreon is a good avenue for smaller projects that don't necessarily offer contracts of their own, but at that point there's a lot of money that goes into their fee.

                        Edit: Another potential avenue is donating directly to a developer for their open source work (Github Sponsors will let you do that), assuming there's a dev you like a lot for that.

                        • jermaustin1 8 days ago

                          As a company, I typically find donating to a company/foss/whatever that "advertises" their donors is the best way to give them money, and it be an advertising expense.

                          • einpoklum 8 days ago

                            "Best" for your company's business interests? :-(

                            • jermaustin1 8 days ago

                              That is small minded... It is best for all interests. I get a bonafide write-off, they get bonafide money.

                              I also pay developers for a commercial licenses for FOSS offerings, if they are able, that I never intend on using because the project looked promising.

                              I donate thousands of dollars a year between charities and open source software, Why wouldn't I do it in the most tax advantageous way?

                              • myself248 8 days ago

                                I took it as "best" in "most likely to actually reach a person who can write a check" in the corporate bureaucracy.

                                In most of the companies I'm familiar with, it's very hard for engineers and their managers to spend money on things that don't have a tangible return, particularly something you can stick an inventory tag on.

                                Marketing departments, on the other hand, are purpose-built to spend money on intangible things.

                                I've coached a high-school robotics program that's mostly funded out of the company's marketing budget, which they justify because the students put logos on their machines. Everyone knows we're doing it because we think it's awesome, but we have to call it marketing to slip it past the beancounters.

                                • fgonzag 8 days ago

                                  I know you probably agree with me, but supporting an open source project your company's infrastructure depends on has a tangible return (better maintenance on the project). It's just that managers don't see it that way.

                              • einpoklum 8 days ago

                                So, you want to get advertising with money that you write off for tax purposes. In many world states that would constitute tax fraud. And have the reputation of those FOSS developers benefit you, to boot. I'm sorry, that's a bit much from a small mind such as mine.

                                • jrockway 8 days ago

                                  In the US, pretty much any expense that a business makes as part of running a business is deductible. You do not have to donate to a 501(c)(3) to get a tax break.

                            • einpoklum 8 days ago

                              Well, as far as the time-consumption you could try Randomization:

                              Decide what fraction you want to give each of several projects (or make it uniform-probability), and partition the range [0,1] by those fractions. Now draw a random number between 0 and 1 (you can do this online if you like); give the $1000 to the project in whose range you've drawn.

                              I'm not saying that's such a great idea, but the expected donation to each project remains the same (well, depends on some ontological considerations I suppose).

                              • jonas_kgomo 8 days ago

                                @feross published an experiment on funding mechanisms on opensource.

                                My suggestions for now would be BountySource (great for micro-financing on issues) and GitCoin (great for crypto-payments)

                                • valgor 8 days ago

                                  I'm not sure if your scenario is completely hypothetical and you are limited to $1000, but if you are a company and not an individual, why not hire someone with the intention that he or she will work heavily on OSS that you require in your organization?

                                  • michael-ax 8 days ago

                                    You can also donate for articles or factoids that people shared -- which helped you in your own work or field. If you want to keep this human-scale with a high impact potential for both parties. That gets lost when you give to .orgs

                                    • schafele 8 days ago

                                      what are good platforms for that?

                                    • slyall 8 days ago

                                      There are some organisations that handle paperwork for many open source projects. You can donate to these and mark you donations for specific projects or towards "overhead".

                                      The two I've donated to are

                                      Software in the Public Interest ( )

                                      The Software Conservancy ( )

                                      • tunesmith 8 days ago

                                        How about a maven plugin that searches for libs in your pom that registered in a db (put together by a service), and creates a mutual-fund sort of thing that you can donate to, to be distributed later? When I was in an investment club the portfolio of stocks we bought was something any of us could collectively buy into, for any amount.

                                        Then more plugins could be written for gradle, npm, etc.

                                        • surfertas 8 days ago


                                          Core contributors to an OSS project can decide on percentage share allocation and create a credit card checkout that is accessible via a shield button. The donations/proceeds would be split on a per payment basis.

                                          At the moment the application only handles those with a US-based account.

                                          • xvilka 8 days ago

                                            I would consider to donate not to the IT tools but the domain specific software. It's often undervalued, underrepresented, and underfunded. Science, engineering, literature/music/art creation, etc. I believe, these are in the need more than IT, also have a bigger impact to the society.

                                            • mapcars 8 days ago

                                              >Unfortunately, the donation for one project will be quite small as it is just a fraction of the donation of 1000$.

                                              >Do you know any platforms or good solutions to distribute the 1000$

                                              Well every project will get a part of it regardless of how you do it :D

                                              >very time consuming and cumbersome

                                              If you really care and want to donate this should not stop you.

                                              • alexnavis 8 days ago

                                                Just curious to understand how do you currently do ?. Does OpenCollective solve your problem ?.

                                                Apart from individual/company liked projects and you can consider foundations like apache, mozilla which have contributed a lot to the community..

                                                • zanderz 8 days ago


                                                  I almost got my employer to donate to them and have a staff member give us a presentation. That fell apart, but it's a thing that can happen.

                                                  • rodrigods 8 days ago

                                                    Just a suggestion: you could donate "time", which probably could be valued much more than $1k:

                                                    - Contributing back the changes you've made (if any)

                                                    - Improving official documentation

                                                    - Writing blog posts on how you used the project

                                                    - Taking some time to fix upstream open bugs

                                                    • wdroz 8 days ago

                                                      There is a list of open source organizations here[0].

                                                      [0] --

                                                      • schafele 8 days ago

                                                        Thanks for the info. But then again, I am not sure what they are doing with my money right? So is there a platform which distributes my money to those people who work on those projects and libs that I am using - Without checking everything manually.

                                                      • moltar 8 days ago

                                                        Open source collective Patreon

                                                        • fros1y 7 days ago