1% for Open Source

Frequent donations to open-source projects.

Several years ago I found out about the 1% for the Planet initiative via Dan Cederholm’s SimpleBits store. What if we could do this for open source?

I tried pitching the idea to my previous employers without much luck. Fast forward a few years and I find myself freelancing, no more excuses now. I earn a living by writing code. I always have and hopefully will for the years to come. I have the best job in the world. I envy myself for getting paid to do what I love to do.

As a developer you don’t start from scratch, you build on top of millions of lines of code written by others. In my world, the web development world, those tools are mostly free and open source. I use the work of others to build something I sell. I earn money thanks to their work. I don’t pay them anything.

Giving back

I wanted to give something back by adding the following to my invoices:

“I’ll donate 1% of the profit to an open-source project used in this assignment. Any ideas?”

Every month I browsed the world wide web searching for a project we used and trying to see if there was a way to donate money to the project. I donated to several projects, some directly linked with the assignment, some slightly less: Cucumber, the brew test-bot, the Kibaale Children's Centre (Vim), RVM, and others.


Finding new projects each month is hard. There isn’t always a way to donate money to every project, and even when there is, it’s not always clear if it’s the right place to donate. Enter Gittip.

I had seen Gittip before but never opened an account. That was until I heard Chad Whitacre on The Changelog last week and realized Gittip is the missing link.

On Gittip you donate a small amount of money (between $0,25 and $24) to a developer on a weekly basis. They use the money as they want. You don’t pay them to fix a bug or add a feature, you simply say: ‘Thank you’.

Thank you for making my life easier!