The Drupal community and Effective Fundraising

Not sure exactly when or why it started, but in the past few months the Drupal community started using Gittip to allow any individual to sustainably fund drupalists for their outstanding work. One of the highlights of this has been Alex Pott’s Funding my work on Drupal 8 blog post for sure. Overall, this is a great idea, and we, as an Open Source community, should really value the hours, hard work and passion that so many people are putting into Drupal.

That being said, I’d like to step back for a second and really think twice about how we’re doing it. I just checked Gittip and fees and I’m not sure it sits well with me:

  • Gittip: 30¢ + 2.9% fee to cover credit card processing.
  • 7.5% fee from the received funds to keep up and run Drupalfund. PayPal will apply its regular fees (about 3-4%) on top of that.

Let’s compare that with the most popular crowdfunding platforms I know of:

  • Kickstarter: 5% fee from a project’s funding total if a project is successfully funded. Non-US projects are processed through a third-party payments processor whose fees are between 3-5%.
  • Indigogo: 4% fee from a project’s funding total if a project is successfully funded. It goes up to 9% in the context of a flexible funding (allows you get to keep what you earned). That and 3% for credit card processing plus a $25 wire fee for non-U.S. campaigns.

So, all of this looks like Gittip is the most interesting funding platform while Indigogo and are the least interesting ones when it comes to looking at fees only (obviously, this is biased). It’s also sad that we have to go through Paypal to fund Open Source projects or initiatives on, as Paypal has had several notorious issues in the past when working with Open Source projects (one example here).

I want to love Gittip because they’re providing sustainable funding. I also want to love because they’re focusing on Drupal projects and this is a great initiative. But the more I think about it, the more I feel like Drupal fundraising should not happen that way despite those initiatives being excellent and currently our only way to recognize the work that is being made in the community.

Enter effective fundraising

Are you familiar with the concept of effective fundraising? If not, please read more about it. The idea is that we often give money to charities because it triggers emotions in our inner self. This is why when you have someone in your family who died from a cancer, you’re more likely to give to a charity fighting cancer rather than one fighting malaria, for instance. Turns out, this is plain wrong, from a pure effectiveness point of view, as your money might or might not be used efficiently. Taking again the example of that organization fighting malaria, according to GiveWell, it’s the most effective charity organization out there.

Back to the point, my idea is to start the discussion about applying this concept to Drupal funding. It would be a bit like Certified To Rock, but to help people they evaluate who to give money to based on several criteria. It’s like when you’re solving a problem on a Drupal site. It doesn’t matter what you think or believe. What matters is what real data will give you to go beyond your subjectivity. And, while we’re at it, why wouldn’t we think about a system in which the Drupal Association would collect our money and would be responsible for the first ever Open Source effective fundraising?

September 26, 2013