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Pan Handling in Open Source?

How should open source projects handle donations? And do it in a tasteful fashion?

panhandling-not-illegal

I ask because I’ve been doing some work lately do expose the Friends of Eclipse program at Eclipse in a variety of ways. For example, I want to add a link on Eclipsepedia as we have on a variety of the Eclipse download pages.

Friends of Eclipse

I’m a fan of the Friends of Eclipse program because I believe in the power of community. All donations benefit the Eclipse community in some fashion from providing more bandwidth for users and committers to sponsoring Eclipse community events. The program is there as a way to contribute to Eclipse for people who may not have the time to become a committer but have the financial resources and desire to contribute. For awhile, I don’t think the program was very visible and that’s changed as the link has appeared on the download page. There are now over 1000 donations to the program! I see a future where we could get a considerable amount of support from the Friends of Eclipse program and help the Eclipse Foundation sponsor more events.

But is there a line that we can cross where it seems like we’re pan handling :)?

I tried to look at how other projects handle donations.

If you look at Wikipedia, their approach is to have everything front and center.

Wikipedia

It seems to work for Wikipedia as they tend to have a fund raising drive model. Their users don’t seem to mind either. The Linux Foundation has a way to donate on its web page and they also have a program similar to the Friends of Eclipse where you can sign up for individual membership with some benefits.

Linux Foundation Individual Membership

How do other people view donation in the open source context? Is there a line to cross?

How do other open source projects do this?

  • Kim Moir

    If there is a line, we haven't crossed it yet. I recently added a link to friends of Eclipse to our download pages. Looking at the main eclipse.org web page, it's hard to find the donate button, all all. +1 for making the donate button more visible.

  • I'm a FoE as well as a yearly contributor to Wikipedia. I get a great deal of benefit and enjoyment from both. I see it as a personal commitment on top of what my company contributes as part of our sponsorship of the foundation.

    I say bring it front and center–it reminds us of the benefits we receive and it will annoy those who only take and never give.

  • I don't know where the line is. I don't mind having something in the software itself, i.e. I use some stuff like terminals which use a web page as the splash screen which has a donate button in the upper right. I think I have donated to at least three projects this year, probably multiple times in some cases.

    I personally don't mind using the golden upper left triangle of a web page, but I tend to see these in the less jarring upper right.

  • I should also say I am a huge fan of t-shirts as another fundraiser and way to promote the brand.

  • Wow, nice timing, the OSU Open Source Lab just launched a new fundraising campaign: http://osuosl.org/give6

    which raises a whole new level of questions with regard to OSS, funding, and donations. There are a whole slew of projects that benefit from the hosting that OSL provides (for a list see http://osuosl.org/services/hosting/communities ) and many of these projects have their own funding needs and fundraising campaigns, yet none of them have the means to cover the costs that need to be incurred for hosting and expanding the OSL. How do you juggle those needs appropriately?

    Luckily they get a lot of love from Google, but that model is not sustainable.

  • Denis

    “It seems to work for Wikipedia as they tend to have a fund raising drive model. Their users don’t seem to mind either.”

    I think some disagree with you 🙂
    https://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1029

  • I think that sample page is great. I'd go a little farther and add slightly more sparkle or positivity toward the higher values. Even add a special watermark for a $35 entry.

  • While donation could bring resources, as far as I read, some open source projet owners have expressed their serious doubts about donation process, because it does not attract a lot of attention. 'Donate' buttons on open source projects' web site have very little success. May be it's due to the success of open source: these days, a lot of open source projects are used in every Java development… Few developers pay attention to the life of open source projects as most of developers think they are part of the landscape: nothing less, but nothing more too.

    I thought about it and my idea was and still is that donation could be higher if it gives some kind of vote rights on manpower (well, it's all about benefits participation gives).
    Then, it's not about donation anymore, but much more about what I have called FDD, that is, Funding-Driven Development.

    I have written in March 2 posts about it:
    Revisiting donation/funding for open source projects – let's talk about FDD
    and as an example,
    Another idea for Funding-Driven Development (FDD) – for Firefox and OpenOffice.

    Well, it's a matter of experiment. Maybe one day, one is going to follow ideas I have expressed in my posts, or will have ideas close to mine. And we will see if this FDD approach is better or not. And if better, it may spread quickly.

    May be this FDD approach could start, in parallel with donation, while creating a new membership status, quite similar to FoE, giving vote rights on manpower, according to the money raised.

    My 2 cents.

  • While donation could bring resources, as far as I read, some open source projet owners have expressed their serious doubts about donation process, because it does not attract a lot of attention. 'Donate' buttons on open source projects' web site have very little success. May be it's due to the success of open source: these days, a lot of open source projects are used in every Java development… Few developers pay attention to the life of open source projects as most of developers think they are part of the landscape: nothing less, but nothing more too.

    I thought about it and my idea was and still is that donation could be higher if it gives some kind of vote rights on manpower (well, it's all about benefits participation gives).
    Then, it's not about donation anymore, but much more about what I have called FDD, that is, Funding-Driven Development.

    I have written in March 2 posts about it:
    Revisiting donation/funding for open source projects – let's talk about FDD
    and as an example,
    Another idea for Funding-Driven Development (FDD) – for Firefox and OpenOffice.

    Well, it's a matter of experiment. Maybe one day, one is going to follow ideas I have expressed in my posts, or will have ideas close to mine. And we will see if this FDD approach is better or not. And if better, it may spread quickly.

    May be this FDD approach could start, in parallel with donation, while creating a new membership status, quite similar to FoE, giving vote rights on manpower, according to the money raised.

    My 2 cents.