More and more people are asking how to help the FreeCAD project by donating money. At the moment, there is unfortunately no simple and straightforward answer. I'll try to explain the reasons and the options available below.
FreeCAD is at the moment still a very small project, with a limited team of developers. All of us have day jobs, and we all work on FreeCAD during our free time. Having more money would not change this situation sensibly (none of us would have more time to dedicate to FreeCAD).
There is also the problem that we have no structure (foundation, association, NGO, etc) to collect money. Setting up such a structure represents a huge cost in money and effort (you need a lawyer, an accountant, and do a lot of administrative tasks). The very small team of FreeCAD would spend all its time doing this instead of coding if we were to do it at this moment, even if we could collect enough money to support it. This article explains the problem pretty well.
There are however small costs generated by running the FreeCAD project, namely paying for the web hosting of this site. At the moment they are all payed by Jürgen.
- A first, direct option is to support the current web hosting costs by donating to Jürgen's paypal account. Be aware that at the moment we have no structure to redirect this money to other uses, and there is no way to emit receipts other than the one that paypal will give you, or use this donation for tax deduction or anything like that. This solution should therefore not be used by companies that need more concrete guarantees, nor if you want to keep track of what your money was used for.
- Instead of donating money, consider donating time. It might help the project much more. There are many ways you can help the project other than coding or donating money, for example helping to translate, helping new users, or helping to write good documentation.
- Sometimes, some developers agree to do a specific task for money. There have been a couple of successful experiments already, such as the Path workbench or Ian Rees's funding experiment. At the moment we don't keep track of these possibilities, it's up to you to build up an idea, discuss it on the forum, and find developers interested in doing it. By finding more users wanting to invest some money together, you may also raise the bounty, making it more likely to succeed. There is also a "jobs" section on the forum, where you can post job proposals.
- This is the time of crowdfunding, where all kinds of projects and ideas can sometimes raise a lot of money and interest. Why not invent something new that could be done for FreeCAD with money, or help with finding better solutions? Feel free to discuss it on the forum. We have a thread specifically to discuss funding possibilities.