More and more people are asking how to help the FreeCAD project by donating money. There are a couple of options available:
FreeCAD is at the moment still a very small project, with a limited team of developers. Most of us have day jobs, and we all work on FreeCAD during our free time. Having more money would not change this situation sensibly (none of them would have more time to dedicate to FreeCAD). Some of us, however, have a more flexible work scheme where money can make a difference (see below).
There is also the problem that we have no structure (foundation, association, NGO, etc) to collect money. Setting up such a structure represents a huge cost in money and effort (you need a lawyer, an accountant, and do a lot of administrative tasks). The very small team of FreeCAD would spend all its time doing this instead of coding if we were to do it at this moment, even if we could collect enough money to support it. This article explains the problem pretty well. We are however evaluating joining an umbrella organization, which will remedy the situation greatly.
There are however already many ways you can already contribute to the project or its developers financially, both as an individual or a company. See below:
- FreeCAD has an official FreeCAD team account, on which you can donate via credit card or paypal. Any money received there is split equally between all the developers participating (a list is shown on the Liberapay page). This is currently the best option as it helps developers directly.
- FreeCAD also has a Bountysource account, where it is possible to donate money via credit card or paypal to the FreeCAD project as a whole, or as a bounty for a specific issue you would like to be addressed and solved. This is a more interesting option if you want to see your donation specifically used in a particular area or benefit the project more generically. However, using the Bountysource money is a more complex process for us, and there might be a bigger delay between donating and seeing your donation used effectively.
- Another very useful option is to support the web hosting costs by donating directly to Jürgen's paypal account. Jürgen currently supports the web hosting costs alone.
- Some developers will do a specific task for money or can be sponsored to spend more hours working on FreeCAD. There have been a couple of successful experiments in the past, such as the Path workbench or Ian Rees's funding experiment. At the moment, the following developers can be sponsored:
- There might be other developers interested in doing specific coding if you have an idea to be implemented, and would like to accelerate its development by paying a developer to work on it. It's up to you to build up an idea, discuss it on the forum, and find developers interested in doing it. By finding more users wanting to invest some money together, you may also raise the bounty, making it more likely to succeed. There is also a "jobs" section on the forum, where you can post job proposals.
- Instead of donating money, consider donating time. It might help the project much more. There are many ways you can help the project other than coding or donating money, for example helping to translate, helping new users, or helping to write good documentation.
- This is the time of crowdfunding, where all kinds of projects and ideas can sometimes raise a lot of money and interest. Why not invent something new that could be done for FreeCAD with money, or help with finding better solutions? Feel free to discuss it on the forum. We have a thread specifically to discuss funding possibilities.