Donations/sponsoring for your github repo

This is the fourth blog post in my office hours series. This one is about Jeroen Tiebout. He wants to help open source projects get donations.

I'm a big fan of Github. It's a fantastic platform to work together on code. And I believe that it can grow much bigger than it is today if they can reach outside of the hacker community (which is their ITM) (that's a topic for another blog post.)

Like any big new network, there are opportunities to piggy back on them and provide services that complete the experience (in the same way that YouTUBE and PhotoBucket piggy backed on MySpace, Imgur on Reddit, Twitpic on Twitter, etc.). There are already a few that exist like Travis CI, Circle CI, CodeClimate, ...

One that is needed is to provide an easy way to make money with your github repository. Open Source is not free and as your repo becomes more and more popular, you need to make some money so that you can dedicate more time to maintain it. Everybody who relies on your code will appreciate it.

Many projects have tried to tackle that problem (e.g. BitHub, Tip4Commit). I met recently a Belgian hacker Jeroen who is also trying to attack this problem with Trickle.to.

Here is my take on it: Make it a badge like Travis CI. Make it easy for me as the owner of a repo to manage a banner with the logos of the companies that support the project. Also, handle the payment for me.

oAuth with Github, choose which repos should be accepting sponsoring/donation, and automatically add a link and image at the bottom of the README.md.

The image will automatically update as new paid supporters come in. And if you click on it you can learn how you can become a paid supporter as well.

Companies will do it because 1. They rely on your code and would love you to continue maintaining it 1. They are constantly looking for new engineers who know their stack. The people who see that README are the perfect target. They want to show them that their company is not only supporting open source software, but that they are also using this particular code that you understand. Given how expensive it is to funnel engineer candidates in your hiring pipeline, I can see companies donating a good amount of money for supporting in such a way open source projects that they use.

Some percentage needs to percolate to the dependencies and the various contributors. That's a great way to get viral and to make sure that all contributors get something. You can choose to get the money as it comes in bitcoins, or wait that you reach a minimum amount (pick a number, let's say $100) to get it wired to your bank account, or you can opt in to give the money to the cause of your choice.

I really think that this is a great business if done right.

Jeroen is working on this and is looking for a cofounder. Ping him.

Hack away!

Xavier Damman

About the author

I'm Xavier Damman. I'm an engineer in computer science and an entrepreneur. I'm passionate about the digital renaissance. I like to think about the future of media (I cofounded Storify), organizations and democracy. In my spare time, I like to hack and to talk. You can follow me on Twitter @xdamman.