Keeping open-source groups alive: FOSS Responders

Open source is doing great, but some open-source groups are getting knocked around by the pandemic. That's where the newly formed FOSS Responders come in.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Thanks to the coronavirus, technology events have been canceled left and right. This, in turn, is damaging the finances of companies and groups that depend on these events. Some open-source groups, such as The Linux Foundation, can deal with it. Others aren't so fortunate. Some, such as Drupal Foundation, the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Open Source Matters (Joomla), and Ajv JSON Schema validator, are in real trouble. FOSS Responders is trying to help these and other groups and individuals.  

While open source powers billion-dollar businesses, many open-source projects operate on a shoestring budget. Groups such as Sustain, Open Collective, and the Core Infrastructure Initiative try to help these groups and the code they create stay above water. 

But, the COVID-19 pandemic brought new pressure on these groups. Most of them rely on events to fund-raise and build financial partnerships.  Those events simply don't exist any longer. True, virtual events such as the recent Red Hat Summit can be successful, but that doesn't help these organizations much. 

So, Nuritzi Sanchez, a FOSS Responder co-founder and GitLab senior open-source program manager, said: We "started out around mid-March as a response to COVID-19 event cancellations. It's a group of open source leaders from companies like Indeed, Facebook, Google, Red Hat, GitHub, GitLab, etc."

They've set up a process to help both open-source individuals and organizations facing financial trouble. So far, Sanchez said, "organizations are the ones that have been reaching out most so far." They're also consolidating information on how to plan and execute virtual events and provide a place where people can look for and offer help.

FOSS Responders has already had some success in raising donations. Alyssa Wright, Open Collective's director of social engineering, reports that it's raised funds from Indeed, Open Source Collective, Linux Fund, GitHub, Google, Sentry, Ethereum Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation. As a result "FOSS Responders is contributing over $100K to open-source organizations that are experiencing financial strain because of the COVID-19 pandemic."

On May 22, FOSS Responders' is hosting a celebration and fundraiser called UPLIFT! for troubled open-source groups,  Any donations of up to $5K will be matched by a donation from Indeed.

More needs to be done. Just like beleaguered small businesses, small open-source foundations and developer groups need all the help they can get. 

Related Stories:

Editorial standards