Birthday pledge - Lets put the "gift" back in gift economy

I’ve been thinking about this funding of free software projects a lot. Sometimes people decide to do something because it helps a friend, not because they personally care about the software/feature. I was thinking maybe instead of just getting like 2cent pledges, people could do a birthday pledge, or some other kind of gift giving pledge (for any type of occasion where people normal give gifts). It would work like say a wedding registry or a baby shower registry type thing, where people would basically sign up to pledge a certain amount of money because “my friend wants that for their birthday” or something like that.

As a big bonus, it would encourage people to share with their friends to get an actually useful gift, rather than junk they don’t need (or worse yet proprietary software.)

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So, back in 2014 in a successful initial fund-drive (archive link) for our own development, we had already described the idea of gift cards. And we made them a reward to donors to that campaign. We intend to some day honor that still.

So, imagine you give a gift of a $5 donation via to someone. Besides honoring them, you are giving them the chance to come to and pledge to whichever projects they like, and they would get to participate until their $5 is used up, and then they could choose whether to keep going otherwise.

This worked better with a “wallet” style of budgeting where people could make a certain amount of funds available to the system in total rather than a monthly-budget-cap. But legally, we didn’t come up with a low-risk way to handle the “wallet” approach.

There’s probably some way ever to get the gift-card idea functional. It’s not something we’ll be able to support soon. Open Collective allows gift-cards now, but I think that’s limited to projects within a specific fiscal sponsor.

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The only alternative to the gift card mechanism that immediately occurs would be for split payment sources. While it is not on our immediate list of tasks, there is the hope of supporting payment methods beyond credit cards some day. This seems like an aspect to explore whenever we get to that. I could see something akin to, “I know you care about FLOSS, so I opened up a account and am covering up to $5 each month.”

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