So I guess I can have all my GitHub Sponsors donations go through Open Collective, which would result in Open Collective taking 10% of the money that my sponsors are paying me.

My question is... how does this benefit me as an open source maintainer of a project with a bus factor of one?

Near as I can tell Open Collective's big selling point is that it offers accountability in how money is spent. So am I supposed to log how many hours it takes me to work on a particular feature and then create an invoice on Open Collective that I can use to withdrawal funds?

If someone wants to pay me $100 / hr or so I'll log my hours with glee, however, I'm not logging my hours for $10 / month.

Or maybe I'm supposed to set a dollar amount for a given feature? If it's a feature that takes all of 5m to implement it seems like it'd be excessive red tape to create an invoice and if it's a feature that takes 6 months to implement... I mean, I guess I could create an invoice for $60 ($10 / month) but idk it just seems like a lot of red tape unless you're making enough money to justify 1040-ES's.

If you had multiple developers making substantive contributions I could see it being more meaningful in that it could provide transparency in how the funds are being distributed. But with my bus factor of one project all the donations to my project go to me.

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure the question admits of a definitive answer, but when I look on Open Collective at some of the projects I use I can get a feel for how much support is spent on equipment compared to how much is used to directly reward developers, and that's a pertinent factor in my decisions about which projects I will duct my support towards. If you simply say "I'm the developer, send me money", with no auditable means for me to drill down into how you're using it, I confess I am less likely to support you. So one advantage to the Open Collective approach is that you may well raise more support; 90% of £200 is better than 100% of £100.

There's also the considerable overhead of creating a legal person (or, if your jurisdiction permits it, an unincorporated association) and opening a bank account in its name. Otherwise, all funds will have to be received by an individual, who may well then have tax and reporting liabilities for all those funds. So there's the advantage of not (ncecessarily) having to do that, or at least not so much of it.

Then there's the question of how you're going to receive donations from other countries; almost any payment processor you can think of will take fees comparable to those you complain about in your question, and direct credit card handling is impossible for most individuals. There's always PayPal, but the internet is littered with horror stories (random example) from people who've found funds they thought they were clear to disburse retrospectively reclaimed by PayPal, with no right of appeal. So card handling is a helpful provision, too.

None of this is a slam-dunk. You may well decide you can live without all of it. But the option is there for those one-man-bands that wish to avail themselves of it, and clearly some do.

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