My reasoning behind FreeSewing's Revenue Pledge


This is a personal note by Joost De Cock — the FreeSewing maintainer — about his motivations for the FreeSewing revenue pledge

You probably assume that I 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, to 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 overstate the value of the work of all contributors — that doesn’t make me immune to feelings of Why the hell am I doing this?

When you become a FreeSewing Patron, you give more than money. To me, the main value is the message you 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 code. 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 FreeSewing is a force for good.

Charity is not sexy

Here’s the tricky part: People give less once they know the money goes to charity. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is.

So I’m presenting the subscription options like you would see on a for-profit site. It seems more intuitive this way, and also just works better.

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).

Why MSF is my charity of choice

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, wherever crisis strikes, there is a familiar 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 always reminds me that humanity has not completely forsaken these people is to see the banner of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders fly. Sometimes precariously, among the rubble of their bombed hospitals, but always there.

I can’t think of a single symbol that reminds us that not everything is lost, and there’s still good people out there.

It is also one of the few organisations that has the global reach to go and help there where it’s needed most. We’re used to them working in poverty-stricken regions, but when the COVID-19 pandemic ripped our healthcare systems to shreds, MSF stepped up to the plate, deploying their teams in Western Europe, in the US, and anywhere where the need was most acute.

I hope that this explains the choice of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders as FreeSewing’s charity of choice. And I hope you will join us in making the world a little bit better.

So I am happy to make this pledge.