Liberapay: an open source Patreon/crowdfunding alternative

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 LibreaPay 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 non-existent and it gives users of free/open source software another platform on which to support developers. Recurring donations are sponsorships of a project. OpenCollective is a similar platform that we’ve covered before.

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.


Ten Steps to Successful Open Source Crowdfunding – Open Collective

Open Collective, the KickStarter-like service for funding free/open source projects, has published a practical 10-step guide to crowdfunding open source projects.

One of those steps is something more projects could do to raise money. It’s printing stickers and creating shirts emblazoned with the project logo:

People donate because they want you to use their money to power up the project. So get proactive! Print stickers and other merch, cover costs associated with conference talks, and financially support people who make key contributions.

Putting stickers on your laptop is a tradition for developers, they show off what you support,which software and programming languages you use. I wouldn’t mind stickers for Ubuntu, Red Hat, LibreOffice or PostgreSQL on my laptop.

Swag-style t-shirts are also great. When I was tending the FSF (Free Software Foundation) booth at LinuxCon 2016, it was awesome to see people buying t-shirts.

When you need to fund your free/open source projects, consider Open Collective!

Quality Software Costs Money – Fund FOSS Projects

Poul-Henning Kamp has written a fantastic article about why companies should just “throw money at developers” of free/open source software projects. The recent Heartbleed problem with OpenSSL could have been caught had there been more developer time devoted to the project. However, that developer time costs money and we should be far more giving to free/open source projects.

FOSS does not materialize out of empty space; it is written by people. We love what we do, which is why I’m sitting here, way past midnight on a Saturday evening, writing about it; but we are also real people with kids, cars, mortgages, leaky roofs, sick pets, infirm parents, and all kinds of other perfectly normal worries.


The only way to improve the quality of FOSS is to make it possible for these perfectly normal people to spend time on it. They need time to review patch submissions carefully, to write and run test cases, to respond to and fix bug reports, to code, and most of all, time just to think about the code and what should happen to it.

Two ways of funding FOSS mentioned in the article:

  1. hire FOSS maintainers, with the understanding that some part of their time is focused on the FOSS project and the other part is company time
  2. companies can donate and sponsor FOSS developer teams without hiring the maintainers

Creating a foundation for the project can also help because the foundation’s goal is to handle all fund-raising, which lets developers get back to work on developing using the funds collected by the foundation.

The article is really good, I recommend everyone read it twice and then figure out a way to get their company to donate to all the valuable open source projects out there like Node.js, WordPress, Linux, Firefox, etc.