Funding Public Goods


The idea for this course would be a practical introduction to different ways of funding “open source” creative work — not only FOSS software projects, but any sort of creative output where the end goal is to make if freely, publicly available, but also monetized in a sustainable way.

It could be about both funding (business models, strategies, tools) as well as approaches to building something for the public good while also making it sustainable.


  • Cost: $100-200?
  • Participants: 5-10
  • Public reading list / specific examples of successful projects
  • Bookended with two live sessions: kickoff where participants introduce their own projects, and we talk about potential ways to apply different financial models to those projects, and final discussion at the end getting more into next steps…
  • In between — and after! — further discussion on the forum

Course Details

What you’ll learn:

  • A variety of different mechanisms / approaches for funding an (in some way “open”) project
  • Specific examples of how these approaches can be applied

Who should sign up:
You have a project, or something in mind you may want to make available as public good but also fund sustainably in some way

Output / evaluation:
Might be something like: clearly articulated next steps for your project, sustainability plan (like a simple business plan sort of thing)


  • Have a project
  • Familiarity with domain you’re working in (e.g. if it’s a music project, know a bit about the music funding landscape)
  • Basic tech / internet / financial literacy

Other ideas:

  • Maybe overlapping batches / repeated sessions / alumni participation? (Recurse Center = interesting model)
  • Could potentially have single session as onboarding for longer semester-type session, which could have some custom constraints defined by interests of participants…
  • Public reading list, that could in part be commissioned by experts, and could grow by e.g. commissioning new case studies from graduated participants
  • More generally, some way of pooling funds for creating a virtuous cycle of improved learning resources, so this course practices what it preaches!
  • Interesting twist on “independent researcher” direction, crowdfunding-ish sort of thing — potential writers / researchers could apply, and get funding based on participant votes / interest… maybe we could have a list of RFPs of some kind?
  • Maybe specific interest-based cohorts, e.g. one for writing projects, one for music projects, one for software projects, etc.

Sounds good. Here is a useful link to explore the “public funding” tools:

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Hey, thanks for sharing! How did you come across this, by the way? Still working on this course, let me know if you have questions about this (or Hyperlink in general!)

Yeah for sure Open Collective is a great example for open source focused crowdfunding / patronage. I’ve been collecting a list of other resources and so far these are some of my favorites:

Also some additional notes in this doc I’ve got going here:

A few other notes of things I’m thinking about for this course:

  • Should probably be ~3 sessions
  • First = intro / overview, get to know people + projects; homework could be research based on your project
  • Second = get into details around specific models, tools, mechanisms, tailored to each person’s project; homework could be drafting an outline for your approach
  • Third = sharing those outlines, getting feedback, hopefully everyone has a good idea for next steps!
  • Might want to use something like a shared Google doc for people to view together for going over intro stuff / exercises…