Understanding the reasons for this pledge
You probably assume that we ask for money to keep the servers running. But that’s not exactly true.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the phrase noblesse oblige but it essentially means that privilege entails responsibility.
I am privileged, and thus I have responsibilities. I am very fortunate to have been born in Western Europe, have a good job, and a roof over my head.
Could I use the money? Yes I could.
Do I need the money? No I don’t.
The value of your support
The main risk to Freesewing is the same as any open source project out there: maintainer burnout.
While I no longer carry Freesewing alone — and I can’t stress enough how much I value the work of all contributors — that doesn’t make me immune to feelings of Why the fuck am I doing this?
When people become Patrons (or donate), they give more than money. To me, the main value is the message they send to me and other people working on this. And that message is: Hey, you’re doing a worthwhile thing. Keep up the good work.
The value of your money
It is not just about the money. But that doesn’t mean the money is not important. Much to the contrary.
Raising money by doing something I love and then passing it on to charity allows me to sleep at night.
I could volunteer at a soup kitchen, or teach underprivileged children how to sew. But instead I’m working on Freesewing.
Which is why all the money raised through freesewing goes to charity. It makes this project not only fun to do, but also socially responsible. And I need that to convince myself that yes, it’s ok to spend all my time doing this, because at the end of the year, I get to write a check to people who need it so much more.
Charity is not sexy
Here’s the tricky part: People donate less once they know the money goes to charity in the end. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is.
So I’m not explicitly mentioning it on our Patrons page, which is presented like you would see on a business site.
Yes, everything is free, and the money doesn’t actually go to paying the server bills (because I choose to pay them out of my pocket for reasons outlined above). But that doesn’t mean that these contributions are not crucial to the well-being of the project, or at the very least its maintainer (that would be me).
What charity does the money go to?
There’s a lot of misery in the world. As I watch the news, I often feel my faith in humanity slipping.
Some of the most vulnerable people on this planet seem largely abandoned by rich countries and supra-national organisations.
Yet somehow, in some of those worst places to be a human being, there is still a banner flying that provides hope, and help. It’s not the flag of the United Nations, nor is it the star spangled banner, or the blue and gold of the European Union.
The one thing that reminds me that humanity has not completely forsaken these people is to see the banner of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders fly, precariously, among the rubble of their bombed hospitals.
I can’t think of a single symbol that reminds us that not everything is lost, and there’s still good people out there.
I can’t think of a single organisation more deserving of our support.
So I am happy to make this pledge:
Freesewing donations pledge
I, Joost De Cock, founder and maintainer of the freesewing project and recipient of its donations, hereby pledge that all donations I receive will be passed on to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
In practice, all donations received in the previous 12 months will be transfered to MSF once per year, on the 10th of December.
TL;DR: I promise to donate 100% of what I receive, I’ll try to cover the transaction fees (so it’s also 100% of what you give).
When you donate, PayPal charges a fee. The donations pledge only applies to the money received, and not to the fee charged.
Historically, I have donated 100% of donations given, and paid the difference (the total of fees) out of my own pocket.
I hope to continue to do that, because I like the idea that 100% of what you give goes to charity.
However, I cannot pledge this, because if this project becomes wildly successful, it would bankrupt me to pay the transaction fee on all donations.
Note: I started accepting donations in November 2014. Donations of those first couple of weeks are lumped in with the 2015 donations.