Liberapay: an open source Patreon/crowdfunding alternative

Liberapay is a recurrent donation platform, similar to Patreon, GoFundMe and other platforms. What makes it different is that LiberaPay is a non-profit organization and they fund themselves rather than charging transaction fees (though you will still get charged payment processing fees).

The source code for their platform is also open source. The code for Liberapay is available on Github.


What’s nice about Liberapay is that it’s easy to use, the transaction fees are below 5% and it gives users of free/open source software another platform on which to support developers.

Sponsoring a Project Through Monthly Subscriptions/Donations

Liberapay does offer monthly subscriptions to sponsor free/open source projects. These are essentially recurring donations are sponsorships of a project. OpenCollective is a similar platform that we’ve covered before. Both LiberaPay and OpenCollective offer varying levels of sponsorship amounts, from Symbolic ($0.04/month) to Medium ($4.33/month) all the way up to Maximum ($433.33/month). You can put in a custom monthly recurring amount as well. With LiberaPay you have the option of donating on a weekly, monthly or yearly recurring schedule.

Donate Weekly or Monthly to Your Favourite Free/Open Source Project

For most patrons, I would recommend at the minimum donating a few dollars every week to your favourite free/open source project. This will help the project along and won’t hurt your own wallet too much (especially considering that most of these donations are not tax-deductible). For the big supporters and for companies, it’s advisable to give as much money as possible to support projects that are running in production, for example FreeCAD and phpmyadmin. Emacs users will want to support magit, the git interface mode for Emacs.

screenshot of the liberapay donation page for the mastodon project

GoFundMe Alternatives and other Crowdfunding Platforms

If you’re interested in more crowdfunding platforms for your free/open source projects, the Snowdrift Co-op has an amazing wiki page full of research on crowdfunding platforms.

Here’s a brief list of open source crowdfunding platforms:

  1. Selfstarter: this is a real open source crowdfunding platform which means you actually host this on your own web server. Then hook it up to whatever payment gateway you need. Currently only Amazon Payments is supported, you will have to code support for other payment providers yourself. It’s created using Ruby On Rails so if you know how to code, you can get this setup for yourself to host your own crowdfunding campaign.
  2. GoTeo
  3. FreedomSponsors: this site lets you donate and sponsors specific issues in a free/open source project. For example if you want a bug to be fixed, you would sponsor that bug and a developer will come along and say “hey I will fix that bug”. When the bug is fixed, you pay the developer directly. It’s an interesting model because it relies on users of the open source project to post a bounty for bug fixes or features that they want to see implemented.
  4. BountySource: this site is similar to FreedomSponsors but is easier to use. It relies on existing issues trackers such as GitHub, BugZilla, and JIRA for placing a bounty. For instance, you can report a bug for a project that’s hosted on GitHub and then place a bounty on BountySource that says you will pay $100 for the bug fix to be implemented. There’s also a leaderboard style campaign of donations. One of the top teams participating on BountySource is IBM!
  5. OpenCollective

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