From January to July 2018, we've been receiving donations on Liberapay. However, in July, Liberapay had some troubles with their payment provider, and we had to look into other options to fund our project.
Lots of people have been complaining that we hadn't any donation system available, and I have the pleasure to announce those days are over ;)
If you're only interested in giving money to the project, you can jump straight to our donation page : https://opencollective.com/funkwhale
Open Collective is a donation management platform with an interesting model and design. Basically, collectives (think: foundation, informal projects without backing structure, etc.) can join the service and describe a budget. Bakers can then visit those collectives pages and give money to them. Not really original, is it?
The differences lies in the way you can withdraw this money. With systems such as Liberapay or Patreon, the page owner usually provide a bank account (or any other payout mean) and receives their money. On Open Collective, you can only withdraw money if you submit proof of expenses. Typically, if you have 100€ on your collective's balance, and spend 50€ to buy drinks and food in the organization of an event, you would submit the receipt for this purchase, and get reimbursed.
The main reasons to prefer this model are accountability and transparency: expenses and proofs are displayed publicly on your collective's page, meaning backers can scrutinize your accounts and understand how their money is actually spend. This force collectives to think about their expenses upfront, and ensure money is used properly.
I'm really interested in that design, as I think it will be really helpful to help Funkwhale transition from a small, personal project, to something that is more community maintained.
On a sidenote, Open Collective itself is open-source, if you want to have a look at the code ;)
Apart from that, as a backer, you get pretty much the same features from Open Collective than you would expect from other donation systems:
- Recurring and one time donations, with flexible amounts
- Each collective gets a dedicated page with updates, a transaction log, etc.
- Summary of your expenses as a backer at the end of the month
It's worth noting the fees are higher than with Liberapay (and possibly other) systems, between 10 and 15%:
- 5% goes to Open Collective
- 5% goes to the payment provider (Stripe)
- In case there is not legal entity behind the collective (which is currently the case for Funkwhale), the entity that receives the funds will take a commission as well, which is roughly ~5% in our case
This commission is deduced from the amount received: if you are donating 10€, Funkwhale's collective will receive ~8.5€. If we create a legal entity for Funkwhale in the future, we'll be able to reduce those commissions.
You can visit the collective page to have an up-to-date vision of our milestones, as well as our current account balance.
We have two milestone at the moment:
- 1000€/year to pay for domain name and servers needed to host our various developement tools, websites and community spaces
- 24000€/year to fund my work on the project. This translates to 2000€/month which I consider a sustainable target
Milestone #1 will be easy to deal with: I have bills and receipts for most of those expenses, and I can upload them on Open Collective to get reimbursed.
Milestone #2 will be more challenging, because I need to think about the legal structure for my work. Should I use my own enterprise and make invoices for my time working on Funkwhale? Or work on a foundation to back the project, and get hired by it?
I'd like to add a milestone to fund external contributions (translation, moderation, code, etc.) as well, because there is no reason I'm the only one to benefiting from all the work. Those are the things we need to figure as a community, and I'm confident we will work this out together.
I'm really happy to finally have this set up! Funkwhale's website and Liberapay page have been updated to reflect those changes, so there's nothing else blocking to start receiving donations on this new platform. There are plenty of ways to contribute to the project, and if you don't have financial resources for that, check out our Contribute page to get some ideas!
I'd love to get some feedback about Open Collective, from a backer perspective, so let me know what you think about it!
I realize this blog post can send a wrong message and I want it to be crystal clear: we were really happy with Liberapay until July. It worked very well for our needs, be it the fees, payout delays, community, and the software itself. We started to look for an alternative when we heard Liberapay was in trouble.
Ultimately, the decision to switch was motivated by the "transparency-by-design" feature of Open Collective, which may not be suited for every use case. If you're happy with Liberapay, you should definitely stick with it.
Many thanks to Liberapay for hosting our donation page, and for all the people who backed Funkwhale on this platform!