How have you fund an open-source project ?

gmartigny profile image Guillaume Martigny ・1 min read

There's so many ways to fund an open-source project these days.

Should small project stay in your spare times and don't bother to be funded ?
Should you engage user and ask for small donation (donation, patreon ...) ?
Should you seek larger company and offer visibility for sponsorship ?
Should a project fund itself by its own financial choice (subscription, paid plan ...) ?

If you've gone thought it yourself or witness a great way to manage it, please share how it goes.


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I have a couple open source projects (github.com/ua1-labs). Funding has to be a personal decision in my opinion. Just as personal as the question, do I work for a company or myself?

With that being said, I chose to fund my open source projects through the services I provide. Instead of trying to fund the project itself, I offer services to companies and use the open source projects I created to build out their systems.


That's a nice way I haven't even considered. So, if I get it right, you OSS project don't make money by themselves, but you use them to do contract work.


Good approach, I didn't think of that.


I think non-trivial projects (those that have demonstrated their non-triviality by being around a few months at least and having more than 1 permanent core members) should be asking for donations if needed. For the record, I do support an open source project financially (covering their server bills), though I'm myself not involved in it. I think if more projects asked for help, they'd get it. Not everyone may find time to code, but everyone can donate a few bucks now and then.

Maybe, just maybe, if people contributed money (even if a little, even if now and then but regularly), they'd feel more committed towards the project. 😛


I've been working on autospotting.org for almost three years now, and for a lot of this time without any funding.

As of January I started to accept support on Patreon, and soon got my first supporter donating $5/month. I later started to charge for-profit companies $40/ month for easy to install pre-built binaries (after a brief evaluation period), and I recently got a couple of such sponsors.

I'm also allowed by my employer to spend 20% of my work time doing development towards a rollout to the company infrastructure that has potential to generate millions of yearly savings.


Many popular open source projects are maintened by companies. For example v8's contributions are mostly by Google's engineers and React's contributions are from Facebook engineers. This is not always the case where Google's amp pages got greater amounts of contributions from other companies.


I've had an opensource JavaScript library for many years. This mostly stays in my spare time so gets a release about 2 times a year.

As well as the library itself I have a website with lots of tutorials, examples, and other documentation. I decided to try some Google ads on the site.

Currently the revenue is small, a few dollars a month, but over the course of a year should cover the hosting costs (which is great!). I imagine that more popular open-source projects, with lots of traffic to the site could make some helpful revenue with this method.

Some people have been very happy with the library and have asked if there is a way they could make a donation, so in future I may consider that via Paypal. As I understand it though, donations can be problematic, with credit card thieves using donation forms to test stolen credit card information. I would be interested to read about other people's experiences with this.


You could use something like Patreon to accept donations.