Polar: A new way of funding open source projects

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A company called Polar is introducing a new idea in open-source funding, aiming to allow open source developers to monetize sponsoring specific features, issues, or milestones in open-source projects.

Founded in 2022, Polar seeks to streamline the way open-source software creators and supporters manage subscriptions and payments. The platform is designed to facilitate funding for particular aspects of open-source projects, providing a more targeted approach than general donations.

Traditional methods for monetizing open-source projects include technical support subscriptions (e.g., Red Hat), donations and paid services (e.g., Blender), and community support platforms like Patreon, Open Collective, and GitHub Sponsors. These models often depend on voluntary support, which may not fully compensate developers for their efforts.

Unlike existing platforms, Polar allows developers to receive funding for developing specific features or achieving project milestones, aligning project development with what is valued by customers. This model encourages developers by ensuring they get compensated for meeting clear objectives.

Polar aims to empower maintainers to act as entrepreneurs, offering them the option to sell add-on services, subscriptions, or premium features. This approach seeks to provide a sustainable income stream beyond what has been described as ‘coffee money’ from traditional donation-based platforms.

Polar charges a 10% commission, which includes a 5% fee for Stripe transactions. The platform’s founder, Birk Jernström, emphasizes the importance of significantly increasing funding in the open-source sector to support full-time development work on open-source software (OSS).

Maintaining transparency in funding is crucial for open-source projects. Polar allows project maintainers to control which issues or features are highlighted for funding, ensuring alignment with the project’s roadmap and priorities.

By handling financial transactions, tax considerations, and potentially compliance issues, Polar enables developers to concentrate on project development rather than administrative tasks.

Polar represents a significant shift towards sustainable open-source development, providing a structured platform for developers to receive targeted funding for their work, thereby addressing the critical need for more substantial financial support in the open-source ecosystem.

Sources include: Analytics India

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