Funding Concept for Karrot

How can we effectively raise money to fuel the development of Karrot? A combined approach seems most promising to me:

  1. Applying for grants through an own legal entity.
  2. Receiving money from user groups in exchange for offering services such as new features or maintenance. This way we could channel grants from the whole globe to Karrot.
  3. Selling and maintaining white-label versions of Karrot. This could be interesting for public institutions who want to run their own instance in their municipality as a public service.
  4. Crowdsourcing campaigns. Maybe advertised through

What do you think?


Thanks for bringing up that topic, @mrkojo! It would indeed be great to get some funding, but it needs to happen in the right way. Let me address your points in order:

  1. Sounds reasonable. I guess we’re still not sure which legal entity we deem the most fitting one, but if we had a reason to, I guess we’d decide quite fast. The biggest problem with this suggestion is actually that applying for grants is a lot of work. We’d need someone to tackle this who is not already busy with coding, conceptualizing, discussing features and integrating users - otherwise we’d lose momentum on those fronts and I guess we don’t want that.
  2. I have big concerns with this one. I won’t make anything we already offer for free a paid service. It just seems wrong. Same with prioritizing feature requests from groups that transfer money. It goes against what I believe.
    Some groups already work on getting money and want to support Karrot development with it. This is the way I want it to be and the only way I can see this continue without losing our authenticity.
  3. I’m not sure I understood this. Can you maybe explain a bit more?
  4. Also reasonable but also needs someone taking care of it. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding require even more work than applying for grants because you need a lot of PR. We talked about it the other day and Doug threw in the idea of a finder’s fee to incentivize this. We didn’t talk about any figures though…

I agree with @djahnie, the funding should happen in the “right” way.
The time put into applying and documenting the whole funding process can be spent on more important tasks.

However there are lots of people out there who choose to throw money at a problem, maybe cos of the lack of time or knownalage on how to contribute otherwise.

One good alternative for funding could be Librepay.

Liberapay is run transparently by a non-profit organization, its source code is public.

It would not require so much time to setup a page on Librepay, with a link from Karrot for doantions.

It could also work as a good promotion for the project among the open source community.

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Oh that’s funny that you talk of liberapay, @tomasz, cause we already have that…^^

Here’s our page: karrot's profile - Liberapay

It’s linked from but not very prominently… So far we’re not receiving any money this way, which is probably due to the lack of PR work we do… So if anybody feels motivated to change that, we’d be very grateful! :blush:

Edit: Btw, I’d like to be on that page, too. Can you do that @nicksellen? :slight_smile:

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After reading your post in the co-op thread again, @mrkojo, I wanted to add another thought and clarification on paid services:

  • I would not want to create a disadvantage for groups just starting.
  • I would not want to create an exclusive premium experience for richer groups.

Since we never intended to be a hosting service anyways, offering maintained deployments on urls different to is something I could imagine. Because it’s nothing we’d have a monopoly on. If the groups host their own instances, perfect! If they lack the skill/time/whatever but have money to spare, why not make that trade?

The only thing I struggle with when writing this is that I personally don’t know how to help with it. But I guess it could be learned… :nerd_face:

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Thanks for your replies! When I created this thread, my main intention was not to convince you of my vague idea of a funding concept, but rather to start a general discussion. Ideally, we end up with some kind of a fundraising agenda. So I am glad the discussion has started. :slight_smile:

I am going to clarify my initial proposal and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

Okay, let me clarify my initial proposal. I will refer to your comments on the fly.

Proposals (1) & (4)
Here, my main point is that fundraising should become a continuous activity, driven by an agenda similar to the development roadmap. Such an agenda would entail things as applying for fund XY or certain steps involved in the planning of a crowdfunding campaign. I am aware that fundraising is time-consuming and I agree with @djahnie and @tomasz that it should not happen at the expense of other tasks in the long run. However, in the short term, we naturally have to sacrifice some time to kick-start the fundraising process. Once this process is set up, fundraising will help us to increase Karrot’s global impact, and help us to meet the needs of a growing number of Karrot user groups.

Okay, that was quite abstract, I admit. :smiley:
So here are some more practical ideas what we could and should do to get started:

  • We should communicate that we are looking for funds, and how funding will help Karrot to grow. For example, we could create an info page about funding and add a link to it in the top navigation bar of
  • We might want to discuss which legal entity fits best for Karrot, and then create one. A legal entity inspires confidence to potential sponsors and lowers the barrier to transfer money.
  • We should call for collaboration with respect to fundraising. As far as I know, so far we have been actively searching for developers only. How about looking for a new team member dedicated to fundraising, using the Karrot communication channels?

Proposals (2) & (3)
Here, I suggested to offer paid services. Let me explain what I am thinking of.

First of all, I agree with @djahnie that a freemium model is not a good solution for Karrot.

Moreover, no Karrot group should ever have the feeling it is not taken care of if it does not support us financially.

However, our capacities are limited so we can only support Karrot groups as time permits. Also, the number of features as well as groups will hopefully continue to grow, right? :slight_smile: Therefore, I really think we should incentivise the groups to support us in turn, too.

After thinking about incentives for a while, I have the feeling that the following two are most promising:

Karrot Maintenance. I think this is a good incentive because no group depends on this service. A group can always look for its own IT admin. Still, it might be more convenient for them to have us maintain their Karrot instance. Moreover, this way they could benefit from our expertise.

Feature Prioritisation. I am quite fond of this idea, although it creates a slight disadvantage for groups just starting (and @djahnie does not like that). However, the disadvantage is very small as we would work on non-prioritised features, too, just with lower priority. Also, prioritised features would not be exclusive for the groups who “paid” for it. On the contrary, all groups would benefit from them. Apart from that, I believe feature prioritisation fits well for Karrot since it can help to tackle the issue of “lost funding”. It has happened in the past that groups received grants to kick-start foodsaving in their areas. However, instead of collaborating with us, they decided to have their own software tool developed. This is sad. Apparently, Karrot did not fully meet their expectations and they doubted we would be able to implement what they were missing soon enough. Now what if they had had the chance to prioritise desired features such that they could have expected them to be ready soon? And then one final thought. Apart from groups just starting, I think feature prioritisation also has the potential to motivate existing groups to support us. For example, imagine a group would like to have Karrot available on iOS. Imagine further we add this feature request to our backlog. There it resides for a long time because we are busy with a lot of other things and because publishing an app in Apple’s app store is costly. Thanks to feature prioritisation, the group does not have to abandon their desired app to its fate. Instead, they can dedicate themselves to fundraising with a clear goal in mind, namely enabling us to launch that app as soon as possible. :slight_smile:

Does this make any sense to you guys?

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Potentially useful to see result and notes from the ‘funding FLOSS’ discussion at 35C3:

start [FSFW Dresden]

There’s a lot of interesting things in the slides:


Excuse my copy/pasta from the Slack chat:

Has anyone seen? Interactivos?'19 - Open call for projects | Medialab-Prado Madrid.

Deadline for proposal in on the 9th of January. It is a proposal to submit a project which will be included for a 2 week workshop/hackathon. A number of other people will join the event and then work on the project collectively. All expenses seem to be paid to get there and live there for a while. There is no limit on the number of participants for the application (potentially all developers could apply for Karrot). This would not be direct funding for the project but could lead to getting more exposure and more people to help.

Excerpt from the call:

We are looking around the world for people and communities that are rehearsing or want to redesign new ways of seeing and approaching, in a creative and radical way, the change in the food models that can serve to reduce the probabilities of environmental collapse that are announced from the scientific community . We invite all people, be they hackers, teachers, artists, agroecology experts or agribusiness professionals, designers, producers, ecologists, programmers, data analysts, amateurs, citizen scientists, technology fans, activists, engineers, lovers of DIY and DIWO, etc. Whether or not you have these profiles, you are invited to participate.

Thoughts? I could help with the proposal if people are motivated …

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Just a general thought/question:

where would the money go exactly? I think many people would be willing to donate for this amazing cause, but how would it be put to use? Would you pay the hosting or rather to the different developers? (me asking dumb questions as I don’t understand anything about coding)

Both and more, as there are other important jobs besides development and hosting.

We won’t be able to pay developers and sysadmins at market rate for sure, and even discounted market rate is quite high. But we want to make sure that contributors are able to pay their health insurance, get a laptop replacement when it breaks, have reserves to maintain their houses etc.
The way of money distribution is still open, as well as the kind of legal entity we want. There are other threads that touch some of these topics, such as A Karrot co-op? - #10 by nicksellen

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MediaLab is a great place and a very good platform to connect projects, people and ideas. I’ve been at Collective Intelligence and I can only recommend. If devs want to submit a proposal to work on Karrot, I’ll be happy to help out too!

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I’ve heard good things, no direct connection myself though: NLnet; What NLnet can do for you

Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, Karrot doesn’t really fit in the scope of what they’re willing to fund. The foundation “funds those with ideas to fix the internet”. Right now they’re calling for projects in the field of “networking and internet technology, privacy and trust enhancing technologies or search and discovery”.

Late to the discussion, but i wanted to make sure people knew about - more interesting model than Patreon, LiberaPay, or even OpenCollective. Supporters to start out with extremely low buy-in, which increases as more people buy in, and the visible effects of support become manifest over time. It’s not launched yet but i think they are so close that if it might be a good fit for Karrot we should definitely ask. They’re good people.

Oh and Snowdrift did a really solid rundown of the crowdfunding options out there, useful as a reference for whatever approaches Karrot wants to use:


Hi @mlncn, thanks for the hint! I read through the Snowdrift wiki a while ago and used their excellent market research article to decide for LiberaPay.

SnowDrift itself seems interesting as well. I might read up on their latest developments and try it out. I could imagine that Doug, @bruno and @nicksellen are interested in this topic as well (friendly ping :smiley:).

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I’m a bit slow here, but yes! But first you need to register for a liberapay account.

Maybe @bruno also wants to be on there?

I think we should change it to a karrot account though rather than Thoughts? Resistance?

Where is there? :slight_smile: Do you mean becoming a team member for the foodsaving account? I’m fine with that now, when we get millions for selling our souls to venture capital, I’m in. :sweat_smile:

I’m for it, especially given the direction Karrot is developing. We could have it for both maybe?

Yes! It doesn’t actually imply that you’d receive any money, as you can set how much you want (see Income Shares - karrot - Liberapay) - it’s more to show there is a team! But either way is fine :slight_smile:

I would keep it to one to keep it simpler, I’ll add it to agenda for next call…

Well, it could be interesting to actually try it out! I’ll create an account