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[tlug] kickstarter for open source...

Darren Cook writes:

 > I may have a solution for that particular case, but it got me wondering
 > if there are alternative ways to finance this kind of thing, specially
 > designed for open source?

Sure, tons of them have been tried.  Two of the biggest were
sourceXchange and  None of them worked.  Crowdfunding
works because it's basically the same as leaving your pennies in the
UNICEF box at the cash register at 7-11.  Good cause, the money is
less pain than getting bit by a mosquito.  The little coppers add up.

It's going to be interesting to see if it continues to work as the fad
spreads.  (If the ratio of funded projects goes to zero because there
are so many chasing a fixed amount of small change ....)

I'm also rather curious to see how many of those pledges actually
convert to cash payments.  (Pledges cannot be legally enforced in the
U.S. at least, because there's no consideration.)

 > E.g. maybe donations could count as charitable donations for tax
 > purposes if it is open source, which I don't think is the case with
 > Kickstarter donations?

It can't be done for crowdfunding, in the U.S.  In the U.S. a
non-profit can register as a charity, but it has to prove that it's a
non-profit.  Passing on the money to random 3rd parties makes that

It is possible to do it as a "financial cooperative"[1].  I believe
that the FSF/GNU[2], the Software Conservacy, and Software in the Public
Interest are three foundations that can fund member projects out of
charitable donations.  But you have to join and be an on-going
project, and report what you do with the funds (I believe it's hard to
pay developers, but you can pay for needed hardware/software, travel
to sprints, Internet hosting, stuff like that).

 > I like the Kickstarter idea of setting a target, making it very
 > visible; compared to say a bunch of Paypal donations.

You like it as a project sponsor, or as a donor?

[1]  My expression, there's no such thing in law AFAIK.

[2]  However, AFAIK the FSF concentrates on getting money to fund
advocacy activity and the legal staff's expenses, not on paying
developers to work on GNU projects.  SC and SPI on the other hand are
mostly about member services, including handling donations.  But
unlike Kickstarter, they don't currently supply infrastructure to
solicit donations, you do that yourself.

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