best way to support Free Software financially?

Daniel Pocock daniel at
Sun Sep 29 00:23:46 BST 2019

Many people in FSF and FSFE have been reflecting on whether to donate
again given the current problems in each organization.

It is disturbing for me that I have now had quite a few discussions with
people who donated to these groups in the past, stopped donating and
then completely abandoned free software altogether because they were so
incredibly disillusioned.  That's right: they didn't just go to another
group: they felt so bad that they cut all ties with free software activism.

Why do these groups have that impression on people?

The question "do I give my money to FSF/FSFE now?" isn't really the
right one.

A better question to ask might be: "what impact do I want my money to have?"

It may feel convenient subscribing to a recurring payment.  This could
also be the worst thing you could do.  Many organizations take those
payments for granted.

You need to make them work for your money.  Imagine if the same country
won the FIFA world cup every 4 years.  Would they work hard?  Or would
the players get fat?  When you have automatic payments to one group, it
is not much better than that.

Imagine you need a surgery.  Will you choose:

a) the doctor with the lowest number of dead patients?
b) the doctor with the lowest price?
c) the doctor who makes you feel good and always has young interns of
the opposite sex at the reception desk?

When it comes to charitable giving, many people choose (c), not (a).
Emotions win over logic.

In recent years, we have had new options with crowdfunding.  Yet that
also has irregularities: some projects are being over-funded and deliver
nothing.  In other cases, developers put all their energy into making
videos and Kickstarter "rewards", a tedious process that they don't
enjoy, then they fail to reach their funding target and feel that the
marketing effort was wasted time that could have simply been spent doing
what they enjoy, coding.

How do we correct these imbalances?  How do we fund both activism and
code in the right proportion?  All ideas are welcome.



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