Open Collective launches Funds to financially support open-source communities

by Jeremy

Open Collective is trying to make working full-time for an open-source project an alternative to career development for a for-profit company. It believes the steps to achieve this goal include eliminating friction between tasks, the communities that support them, and the corporations that depend on them. 

A look at the budget for Google Chrome’s Web Framework & Tools Performance Fund

It is introducing Funds to its open funding management platform to make it easier for companies to invest in open-source projects by making a one-time payment to a Fund, which then redistributes the money to different projects and contributors, rather than paying those projects individually. 

“Big companies call the process for paying for stuff ‘procurement.’ It’s often pretty involved, with contracts, invoices, purchasing order numbers, and bureaucracy—a painful thing to go through repeatedly for small amounts. It’s practically a blocker. It is simpler and more practical to ask corporations to make one large payment to one vendor. Make it easy, and companies will invest more,” Pia Mancini, co-founder of Open Collective, wrote in a post

For example, Chrome invests in 17 open-source projects through its Web Framework & Tools Performance Fund. Rather than having Google’s finance department make 17 contributions to different groups or individuals with separate procurement processes, it makes one payment that then gets redistributed, 

According to Open Collective, more and more companies are now becoming aware of the need to compensate developers for their work on open-source projects and are willing to fund them. There are a few reasons for this, such as developers taking pride in working at a company that supports open-source, access to creators, building a positive reputation within the community, ensuring their open-source dependencies are adequately maintained, and ensuring open-source projects can scale with their needs. 

The main challenge with financially supporting these projects is that contracts and partnership agreements don’t happen in the open-source community the way they do in the business world. Open-source projects are often made up of a distributed group of people, some tied to companies or foundations. This makes it challenging to invest in them, but Open Collective believes Funds will make it easier.

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