[@OKau] How can we fund important Open Source projects?

Paul Walsh paulywalsh at gmail.com
Thu Nov 12 07:18:38 UTC 2015

Hi Rosie,

I think the question of how open source projects can become self-sustaining is a large area of research and diving in, you’ll find that there is no single answer, as "open source project” is a signifier for a huge range of efforts with diversity in motivation, funding, corporate backing, and so on.

Stats on contribution to any OKI open source projects can be found using GitHub’s APIs for repository activity - all our code is there. Although, I think that your interest is less in “open source projects” and more in “open data projects that use (and build) open source software to achieve social goals”, in which case I’m not sure that will help greatly.

There are around 20 paid staff at OKI, and a range of additional contractors on some projects - usually for development.

"Reliance" on volunteers is something that is hard to measure and reason about. Reliance, as a term, suggests to me that you want to understand if a project lives or dies based on volunteer contribution alone. In general, the answer to that is no.



> On 12 Nov 2015, at 12:28 AM, Rosie Williams <BudgetAus at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Hi and thanks for the comments.
> The conclusion I've come to wrt to discussion of the more general question of how important open source projects can become self-sustaining  (OKFN projects among them) is that there's limited scope for that discussion because there doesn't seem to be easily accessible data to inform it.  
> The OKFN seems to be making ends meet but how that relates to specific projects is unclear.
> Having stats on the number of paid staff, even an estimate of the number of volunteers working on each project, the money coming in to fund each project and where it is coming from would be useful and what I would expect to see in an annual report. I also think it would be useful to know who the visitors to each project/site are so evaluations can be made about engagement to learn from what works or does not. Perhaps the reliance on volunteers prohibits expectations of gathering & reporting this kind of data. 
> I will probably end up blogging about this to have something more comprehensive to pass to the appropriate person.
> Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
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