Christmas Charity – the Open Source way

Every year for the last few years I have given to charity at Christmas. Last year it was Oxfam but this year I wanted to do something a bit different. In the early days of Aggreg8 development, I got a $10 donation and it freaked me out, I coded for days with a crazy energy and a boosted ego, knowing that someone thought that what I was doing was worth some of their hard earned cash. So this year, I have decided to give $5 to 10 different Open Source projects. The projects I have chosen are ones that I use on a day to day basis and really admire.

If we could all do something like this then Open source would continue to thrive and we will all reap the benefits for years and years to come. Joel noted that most people don’t want credit for donating but I do as donating is clearly not a selfless act ;).


  1. Frank
    Posted December 15, 2006 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    The poor cash starved computer programmers? I think charities could probably do with the cash a bit more?

  2. Posted December 15, 2006 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I thought that too but when you read about how much money actually goes to the chosen charity, you have to question it. My dad has always gone with and if I had to chose a charity again, I would chose them.

  3. Posted December 15, 2006 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with Phil. Charitable donations don’t have to be made to charities. A charity is nothing more than a bunch of people with a shared objective who’ve got organised and have a public profile. Whether you think that objective is worth donating to over some other group with some other objective is entirely personal opinion.

    The advantage charities have is their public face – people know about them, and so _many_ people donate. Open Source isn’t like that. The developer doesn’t have a pubic face – and I think it’s just as important to encourage and support those people who donate their free time to help make *my* life better, than to help people less fortunate than myself. It’s achieving the same thing (making life better for people), but from a different perspective.

    I think I’ll be following your example Phil. Firebug certainly is worth supporting.

  4. Posted December 15, 2006 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Very well put Matt.

  5. Frank
    Posted December 17, 2006 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Lads c’mon?

    Surely you must agree that well paid programmers don’t need the money as much as starving children for example.
    50 quid can probably feed a family for a month.
    5 quid each will barely buy the programmers a pint.

  6. Posted December 17, 2006 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Frank, I don’t doubt you are correct (although I question why you pre-suppose that any of these programmers are ‘well paid’ – based on what evidence? What if they’re students? Or unemployed? How do you know if they are getting paid at all?).

    Regardless, the point is not about the virtue of giving to any particular group – it’s about giving charitably at all.

    It’s not about who needs what the most, but whether a person is willing to give some of their own resources to help someone (anyone) else. While a person may believe one group is more deserving of support than another, that opinion is quite irrelevant to anyone but the donor – it is they who are donating, from their own pocket, and they can give to whoever they like – and that, surely, is better than not giving at all?

    If you feel you would rather donate to someone or something else, please do – I’m quite sure a donation of any sort will be warmly welcomed by anyone. But please don’t judge someone’s generosity to be mis-placed because you don’t agree with who gets their donation.

  7. Posted December 18, 2006 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    I can heartily recommend the following charity:

    Karova Shareholders Retirement Fund

  8. Barry Wharton
    Posted December 19, 2006 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    The problem really is finding a worthwhile charity.

  9. Frank
    Posted December 19, 2006 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I base my “well paid” assumption on the fact that all of the (maybe 6) computer programmers that I know personally are paid above the average of everyone else that I know.

    Please don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t having a go at Phil. He’s a close personal friend and I was taking the piss out of him (as we do!). Of course it is his money and he can do with it what he likes. And yes, giving to anyone is better than giving to noone.

    However when he got his $10 donation he “coded for days with a crazy energy and a boosted ego”. On the other hand $10 to let’s say MSF as he suggested could literally be the difference between life and death for someone.

    I can’t preach. Although I recently raised some money for Irish Cancer Research, I won’t be donating any of my own hard earned cash this Christmas.

    Maybe you just have to be a programmer to see the real good in donating to programmers.

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