Supporting open source software

Fund open source developers with GitHub Sponsors

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock /eomgaa

Want to help support a developer? Say thanks to an open source developer with the new feature from GitHub: GitHub Sponsors. Currently in limited beta phase, this feature allows users to financially support a developer via a recurring monthly subscription. As an added bonus, GitHub is matching donations 100%.

Do you support any content creators on a service like Patreon or Ko-fi? How about supporting developers? Announced on May 23, 2019, GitHub Sponsors offers a way to financially support open source code contributors. This model allows for a way to give back to a developer as a way of saying thanks for their work on valuable projects.

This feature is currently in a limited beta phase and awaits input and comments from the community. Future plans include opening up the feature to all developers who contribute to an open source project. Contributions can include any number of things, including documentation, mentorship, design, squashing bug reports, and more.

For now, let’s dive in and see what this feature has in store.

Support a developer!

How do you sponsor a developer?

Looking to give back? Sponsoring developers is integrated into the workflow via hovering over a user and referring to the Community Contributors hover card. No searching for third party links, everything is integrated directly into GitHub.

There are different price tiers available with different incentives and benefits. Users who financially support a developer will receive a badge on their profile to show off their support.

SEE ALSO: How to successfully maintain an open source project

Some developers offer exclusive incentives for higher tier subscriptions. Incentives can include rewards such as one-on-one video chats about development, inclusion on a list of top supporters, pull-request attention, or a shout out on Twitter.

As of right now, sponsorship only includes a recurring monthly subscription. Currently, there is no word of whether or not this will include the possibilities of one-time donations.

Read more about the billing process.

Become sponsored

How do you become a sponsored developer? 

Interested users must join the waitlist for the next beta phase. Sign up via:$USERNAME/sponsors/waitlist

At the signup page for the wait list, you are asked questions about your contributions and involvement, as well as which projects you are most involved with. You are asked if you manage mailing lists, review pull requests, organize conferences, file bug reports, and other important contributions. You can also recommend developers that you feel deserve to be included in the beta.

Currently, a small amount of GitHub users are available to sponsor in this limited beta release. In the future, this feature will be available for all GitHub developers.

SEE ALSO: The future of open source and DevOps

As a bonus, GitHub matches contributions up to $5,000 during a developer’s first year of sponsorship. Users will also not have any fees docked during the first year of this feature. Thus, 100% of all donations go directly to the developer. (In the future, a small processing fee may apply.)

GitHub issues payment “for any month that your balance reaches $100 USD. Contributions from the GitHub Sponsors Matching Fund do not count towards this threshold.”

See the FAQ for more info about how sponsorship works, as well at this article for additional answers (including tax information).


What do you think?

How do you feel about this new direction, especially when taking the Microsoft acquisition into consideration?

Will it change what developers prioritize? How might this affect the future of free and open source software? Is it a new way to support open source developers or an example of GitHub becoming a closed-source platform? Share your opinion with us!

Will you sponsor a developer using GitHub Sponsors?

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Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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