I’m still hesitant to call it any kind of ritual, but as I’ve done it for a few years it has become a bit of a habit for me to compile a long list of projects and groups and to then dole-out money to all of my favorite freedom-loving FOSS and Open Content organizations.
I try to get my donations in by the 1st quarter of the year, but as this year has been so hectic for me, moving offices around and such, I had to push off the ritual until May. Okay, fine. Maybe it is a ritual for me now!
All told, I came up with about 30 projects on my donations list; these projects were grouped into Priority Categories of Highest, High, Medium, Low, and Not Giving.
By throwing everything into an OpenOffice spreadsheet, I was able to adjust how much I was giving per project in each category and then see a total bottom line for all of the donations together. Giving money to multiple groups at the same time also helped me to spend my time efficiently and reduced the chances of missing a project.
The headers on my table columns were:
- Project/Org Name
- Given in which years?
- 2010 Priority
- Notes on Priority – Why the priority is set at a particular level
- Give via? – Useful if there’s a separate group who handles money for the project.
- Notes for this year – Anything special for this year’s donation.
- Amount this year
- PayPal Fees
- Paid ?
Here’s how I ranked the groups:
- Xiph Foundation
- Free Geek
- Mozilla Foundation
- Open Hardware Foundation
- Creative Commons
- VLC (VideoLAN Player)
- Apache Foundation
- Emacs (part of GNU)
- Replicant/Open phone hacking
On the high end, the FSF and EFF have been strong rocks for us, anchoring Free Software and protecting digital rights for over 20 years. Gnash and the Xiph Foundation were placed in the highest bracket, as development of a FOSS flash player and Free/Open media codecs are one of the biggest barriers to running a 100% Free operating system.
Nearly every system I own runs Debian or a distro based on Debian, and the OS is developed as a purely non-profit affair, so they deserve some cash. And of course the SFLC deserves funding as they work behind the scenes making all of the legal grick and GPL enforcement transparent so that projects can get back to the important things, like bug fixing and new development.
On the “Not Giving” front, some organizations looked like they didn’t need the money. Ubuntu is derived from and gains from Debian development, and has Shuttleworth to back it, said several people, so fund Debian instead. I already fund Emacs development via the GNU project, and I no longer use Subversion or TortoiseSVN at work or home now that we’ve switch to Gnome. In terms of the Replicant project, I’d much prefer hacking on a phone myself.
The rest of the projects fell somewhere in between the two extremes. Well, most of them, anyways. It may sound a little bit crazy, but a handful of projects just look like they don’t need money.
For example, the Pidgin project has had a bug open for several years on how they need a donations button on their website, but still don’t have one. Too bad, Pidgin, I’m sure you could use donations to pay for something — like having someone implement a donations button.
The Open Graphics Project set up a campaign asking for money to buy developers hardware, but last I checked on the LinuxFund website, the goal was exceeded. Not only that, but there was no current news on the OGP website just people cleaning up SPAM since the beginning of 2010. If the program is dead or dormant, I’m going to send my money elsewhere.
The 7-zip project doesn’t seem to have a method of accepting donations, so I’m just going to save that money up and try to fund a project to support the RARv3 format in FOSS.
The PuTTY client for windows is very, very nice, but there haven’t been any updates to the software in over a year. So there’s no new work (AFAIK) to fund.
Overall, I gave money to 25 different groups. My bank account may be a bit leaner for it, but I’m happy to know that so many different projects will be able to benefit from my aide, even if I’m far too busy right now to fix bugs, write test cases, or compose documentation for them.
So who do you give money to? Think that I should include another group or two on my list for next year? Write a comment below and convince me!