Budget for Open Source

Many open source packages are now critical infrastructure for thousands of companies and engineering teams. But with few exceptions, nearly all of these run without a serious budget and rely on the personal energy of a handful of individuals. Maintainer burnout is real and well documented.

This is a tragedy of the commons – that is, many people benefit but none pay for it.

We believe there is a simple first step that we can take to change this.

Let's ask our companies to add open source to their budget!

Sounds boring? It should be. Supporting open source projects we rely on should just be part of the cost of doing business for our companies. And as software engineers, we are in a unique and privileged position to make or shape many budget decisions, whether we're aware of it or not. "We need Slack to work." Poof! we're now paying for slack. "We'd like a training budget so we can learn and improve" Boom! training budgets are now standard. "We want healthy lunches". Voila! quinoa salads everywhere!

Next, let's tell our companies that having a budget to support the open source projects that we (and our companies and products) rely on, is important to us and our jobs. Let's get them added to the budget.

Getting started

  • Ask your company for a budget of $100 per engineer, per year (just an idea, it could be anything, as long as it gets on the company budget, rather than being being a once-off.
  • Take that budget and give it to open source projects that save you time, money, or make your life better somehow.
  • You can do this via Open Collective (they have gift cards), or GitHub sponsorship.

Remember, it's ok to start small. The point is to get open source on the company budget. Once it's there, it'll become part of the cost of doing business. This is how companies work, so let's use that to make open source sustainable for the long term.

Where did this come from?

This initiative was launched at ReactConfAU 2020 by @jedwatson and @borisbozic from Thinkmill. You can watch Jeds talk online.

Supporting Organizations

Below is a list of companies and teams that have committed line items on their budgets to support open source.

Company / TeamDescriptionEngineersGitHub orgOpenCollective
Thinkmill$100 per engineer, per year1-50@Thinkmillhttps://opencollective.com/thinkmill
Open CollectiveUp to $100 per engineer, per month1-50@OpenCollectivehttps://opencollective.com/opencollectiveinc
Gitcoin/CodeFundUp to $100 per engineer, per year1-50@Gitcoincohttps://opencollective.com/codefund

There are many ways that companies support open source. And there's no one or right way to do it, but having it committed on the budget, makes all the difference. If your company or team has a committed budget for open source, please submit a PR to be added.

The Budget for Open Source website is open source at https://github.com/BudgetForOpenSource/website