Small donations?

I’m new to OCaml. I looked for a way to make a small financial contribution. The main GitHub organization has GitHub Sponsors disabled, so does OCaml Labs. There don’t appear to be any relevant organizations on Liberapay or Patreon. The OCaml foundations seem only to accept large donations: Caml Consortium, OCaml Labs, and OCaml Software Foundation. How do the rest of you make small donations?

There was some discussion in the past, but platforms like GitHub sponsors and Liberapay have made this much easier than it once was. I just assumed I was missing something.

If there truly is no way for OCamels (proper demonym?) to contribute financially, I think it’s worth doing. For example, the single largest donor to the OpenBSD Foundation is all the small donors ($100,000 in 2021). In that community, each release announcement comes with a polite reminder to donate to the Foundation to the extent that you’re able. I think it’s a healthy practice, especially when combined with donations of time and patches.


Some specific projects or contributors accept donations, for example has GitHub Sponsors enabled. Since OCaml itself seems to be well-funded with Labs and the Foundation, for us small users the best way to contribute financially is probably to sponsor the libraries and contributors whose work we rely on.


Another example of OCaml contributor accepting Github Sponsoring is Daniel Bünzli, who is the author and maintainer of many pieces of the OCaml library ecosystem, for example Cmdliner (command-line UI), Vg (declarative vector graphics), a suite of Unicode-related libraries, SDL bindings, JSON/XML libraries, Fmt (formatting), Logs for logging, Bos for shell-style stuff.

(Disclaimer: I’m part of the OCaml Software Foundation, but I’m replying here purely as myself. A previous answer about why private donations are too hard to manage for the Foundation is unfortunately still accurate.)


It’s a good idea to support individual developers. I’ve also noticed that concentrated money is more productive than diffuse money. So $1,000 to each of 10 developers is less likely to make a difference than $10,000 to one developer.

The projects that need support also change from month to month. The diversity of OCSF’s generous actions are a good example. Foundations address both problems: concentrate resources and direct them where needed.

Anyway, I missed this when I read the thread yesterday, but I found @gasche’s original explanation about small donations helpful. I’ve quoted it here for convenience:

The legal setup of the foundation … is such that we have lawyer-type people make decisions about how we are allowed to spend and receive money … As a consequence, we cannot “just” use various funding schemes that are easy for private developers to setup (“use Patreon”, “sign up for Github Sponsors”, etc.); we have to ask lawyers and be patient.

Perhaps a trusted member of the OCaml community could set up GitHub Sponsors on her own private account, then become a Bronze sponsor for OCSF, acting as a pass-through entity for the community. I’m no lawyer, so this may not be feasible.