How to Organize and Fund Free Culture Projects

Location: D135
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While open source projects may be very different from startups, they do share many similarities. One critical aspect for both is resource management. Especially in their early stages, access to sufficient resources can make a large difference in the long term success of either a startup or an open source project.

For any project there are three main alternatives to obtain the resources necessary to ship a product: provide them yourself, convince someone to volunteer to help you, or pay for them. While open source benefits greatly from a large base of volunteers, it can still take a lot of resources just to get organized enough to facilitate the help of your volunteers.

In many ways, open source projects are tasked with many of the same challenges a new startup company faces. In our rapidly converging online existence, reaching your core community, inviting their participation, and giving the volunteers the tools is a complex task.

This is often made more difficult for those volunteers that would rather work on the project, rather than building the community necessary to ensure success. For many, the fight to keep a project alive falls to a small dedicated group of community leaders. Thus, worsening the struggle for their resources.

The biggest killer of most projects, is the lack of resources. When there’s not enough time or bodies to ship a competitive and timely product, few projects survive. However, there is an answer.

One of the most successful strategies behind some of the largest and most popular free culture projects is raising money from external sources. While it’s always still an option, the days of draining everyone’s your pockets to ship your product are gone. There exist a variety of alternatives for an open source project to raise money.

In this tutorial we’ll examine some of the most successful alternatives. Most importantly you’ll how creating an effective sales pitch for donations is an art requiring a deep understanding of donor behavior.

The tutorial will present multiple case studies of some of the most popular and widely used open source projects. You’ll see what tools others have used to gain their succees (including an examination of some of the largest organizations in open source like the Apache Foundation, the GNOME Foundation, and the Mozilla Foundation). All participants should walk away with highly actionable instructions to get the resources to work on tomorrow’s solutions, today.

Photo of Kevin Shockey

Kevin Shockey

Puerto Rico Python Interest Group

Kevin is author, founder, speaker, and volunterr. He currently leads Mis Tribus. Previously he founded Dó, was editor in chief of TUX magazine, & speaker and blogger for O’Reilly.


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