How to Find Funding for Your Project
It is quantic time that we investigate options for financing your projects. It doesn’t matter if you are looking to fund a new business idea or just a side project, there are options at all levels. For instance, there are microgrants up to $5000 for small side projects. For bigger business ideas, you have recurring grants, government funds, and crowdsourcing options. You can even go with advertising on your projects, sponsorships, and selling relevant merchandise. The final step is to look for venture capital, of course.
You can find the analysis of most the funds and grants listed in the article as a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOX3IU_OSig
In addition to what is listed below, the video analyzes different funding types like advertising on your project, sponsorships, selling relevant merchandise, and getting venture capital. Analysis is done from a Senior Software Engineer’s perspective, but it applies to any project. If you want to read the comments or leave a comment, do so under YouTube video. If you want to contribute to the article, make a pull request on GitHub.
My following article will get you started on your first step in pitching your project:
The concept has been around for a while and can at times be the spark that makes a project take off. There are different models, the traditional crowdfunded project asks for funds given some budget and project proposition. If the project reach the donation goal you can receive extra benefits apart from the actual product. Other models are more focused on the community, where members of the community pitch in a certain amount of money per time unit, e.g. once a month.
- Kickstarter: Helps bring creative projects to life.
- Indiegogo: Indiegogo is where early adopters and innovation seekers find lively, imaginative tech before it hits the mainstream.
- Patreon: Patreon is a membership platform based in the United States that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service. It allows creators and artists to earn a monthly income by providing exclusive rewards and perks to their subscribers.
- Liberapay: Patreon alternative but libre.
- CodeFund: CodeFund focuses on providing an ethical alternative to digital advertising that drives results and respect from our technical audience
- CrowdFunder: Crowdfunder is the leader in equity crowdfunding and has helped raise capital for thousands of companies from a network of 12,000 VCs and angel investors
- Experiment: Experiment is a crowdfunding platform for scientific research projects, including academic research, teaching and public outreach, and independent science projects.
- Open Collective: Collect and spend money transparently. Open Collective lets you manage your finances so everyone can see where money comes from and where it goes.
A grant is a sum of money given by an organization or governments for special purposes like funding business ideas. Lets start with them.
Fast Grants - Fast Funding for COVID-19 Science
- Info: Science funding mechanisms are too slow in normal times and may be much too slow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast Grants are an effort to correct this. If you are a scientist at an academic institution currently working on a COVID-19 related project and in need of funding, we invite you to apply for a Fast Grant. Fast Grants are $10k to $500k and decisions are made in under 48 hours. If we approve the grant, you’ll receive payment as quickly as your university can receive it.
- Award: Anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000.
- Application Process/Info: https://fastgrants.org
Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- Info: Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.
- Award: Varies
- Application Process: TBA; Check here for details: https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants
- Info: The Awesome Foundation is an organization that awards $1,000 grants every month. They don’t want any compensation (equity, ownership, ROI, etc.) they simply want to help you build your product!
- Award: $1000
- Application Process: https://www.awesomefoundation.org
- Info: Gitcoin is a bazaar where you can find funding for your code, or code if you’re a funder.
- Award: Varies
- Process: https://gitcoin.co/how/funder
PSF Grants Program
- Info: The Python Software Foundation is the organization behind Python. Become a member of the PSF and help advance the software.
- Award: Varies
- Application Requirements: https://www.python.org/psf/grants/#grant-proposal-requirements
Tyk’s Side Project Fund
- Info: A micro-grant for your side project.
- Award: Up to €500 towards software/services to get your project online.
- Application Process/Info: Apply by filling out the form on the site. You should hear back some time towards the end of April. If they like what they see, they’ll approach you for an interview and everything will be sorted out from there. See website for further details.
- Application Link: https://tyk.io/fund/
- Info: Clojurists Together funds maintainers of critical Clojure open source software, infrastructure, and documentation.
- Award: May vary over time, but currently $3,000 USD/month for three months.
- Application Process/Info: Fill out a short form to apply. Every quarter, the committee reviews all applications and votes on which ones best match what Clojurists Together members are looking to support.
- Application Link: https://www.clojuriststogether.org/open-source/
- Info: Non-profit working to create a quantum technology ecosystem that benefits the most people. They fund explorers across the world to work on quantum technologies.
- Award: $4000
- Application Process: The program is designed to be as simple as possible. No committees to convince. No organizational affiliation required. Just a short form and a two minute video. More details here: https://unitary.fund/
More individuals, organizations and companies are starting to realize the potential of open source. An important question is obviously how projects can be funded to enable individuals to subsist and work on open source full time. This document aims to be an open guide to funding of open source projects.
A list of funding opportunities that follow the grants model. This type of funding is usually carried out in batches, i.e. the fund in question release a certain amount of money each year and it’s spread out over multiple projects. Grant funding often allows you to plan and execute projects over a longer period of time.
From their webpage:
The Open Technology Fund utilizes available funds to support Internet freedom projects that empower world citizens to have access to modern communication channels that are free of restrictions, and allow them to communicate without fear of repressive censorship or surveillance.
OTF funds projects through the following funds: Internet Freedom Fund, Core Infrastructure Fund, Community Prototype Fund, Rapid Response Fund, Labs
From their webpage:
The RIPE NCC will provide EUR 250,000 per year to support projects of value to the operation and resilience of the Internet, with a focus on tools and services benefitting the technical community in our service region.
The service region for RIPE NCC is made up of over 75 countries, which is one of five Regional Internet Registries (RIR). See https://www.ripe.net/about-us/what-we-do/ripe-ncc-service-region for more information.
Horizon 2020 :eu:
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over between 2014 and 2020. You need a consortium to apply. See Holger Krekels talk at 32c3 (link below) for a more detailed description.
InnovationsFonden or Innovation Fund Denmark invests in both large and small projects and they don’t require any stake in the project nor repayment. They have three different programs targeting the whole range from large scale research projects to smaller enterprises and entrepreneurs down to talented individuals within the research space. Funds can be anything between 50k to 5M DKK depending on the size of the project.
InternetFonden is a Swedish fund run by Internetstiftelsen i Sverige or IIS, which administer the Swedish .se TLD. Parts of the earnings from selling .se domains goes to various projects that benefit the development of internet in Sweden and one of them is InternetFonden. Since 2004 the fund has financed 323 projects for a total of 65M SEK (7.7M USD/7.1M EUR/5.2M GBP). Applicants can be companies, organizations or private people as long as they have a Swedish organization number or social security number.
Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) is a grant program specifically focused on supporting the Open Source and Free Software movement, with an initial allocation of USD $1 million.
The Core Infrastructure Initiative, or CII, is a multi-million dollar project to fund and support critical elements of the global information infrastructure. It is organized by The Linux Foundation and supported by companies like Amazon Web Services, Google and IBM. CII was formed as a response to the Heartbleed security crisis; however, the Initiative’s efforts will not be restricted to crypto-related issues in the long term.
From their webpage:
SIDN Fund stands for ‘a strong internet for all’. We provide financial support to ideas and projects that aim to make the internet stronger or that use the internet in innovative ways. By doing so, SIDN Fund wants to help increase the social impact of the internet in the Netherlands.
Similarly to InnovationsFonden, SIDN also funds projects on different levels. Smaller projects - Pioneer projects - can receive a maximum of 10k EUR and larger projects - Potentials projects - up to 75k EUR.
From their webpage:
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.
From their webpage:
The Sloan Research Fellowships seek to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise.
These two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 126 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field. The 2018 Sloan Research Fellows will receive fellowships in the amount of $65,000
From their webpage:
The foundation “Stichting NLnet” stimulates network research and development in the domain of Internet technology. The articles of association for the NLnet foundation state: “to promote the exchange of electronic information and all that is related or beneficial to that purpose”.
NLnet does not directly benefit from the undertaken projects, and all developments are published as Open Source.
From OTF mailing list:
NLNet is seeking proposals requesting between €5,000 and €50,000 for projects for Privacy and Trust projects “aimed at providing people with new instruments that allow them more agency - and assist us with fulfilling the human need of keeping some private and confidential context and information private and confidential.” This effort is part of the EU’s Next Generation Initiative (NGI), which seeks to “re-imagine and re-engineer the internet for the third millennium and beyond to shape a value-centric, human and inclusive society for all.”
Guides on QuanticDev website that is related to this subject:
- Stripe’s $35B valuation in 8 years - How a tech startup reaches billion-dollar valuation?
- How to Present Like Apple?
- How to Manage Money as a Techie - How I Invest as a Software Engineer
- How to Correctly Use Github for Software Development
- Essential Software for Working From Home
This guide is mainly assembled from:
- A handy guide to financial support for open source.
- Awesome Indie
- Alternative Sources of Support - List compiled by OTF
- Holger Krekel at 32c3 - Hacking EU funding for a decentralizing FOSS project
- Raking in the dough on Free and Open Source Software
- Paying the Piper
- Tech Cultivation
- Alternative Funding Sources - Renewable Freedom Foundation
- Funding OSS
- Awesome Open Company
- Getting Paid for Open Source Work
Suggestions for more sources is welcome.
In conclusion, there are more funding options for your project ideas than you can ever imagine. However, you need to work on your ideas and make sure that they are realistic and sustainable. I am sure that the funding providers are getting bombarded with fraud attempt all day every day. Just don’t look like one of them and you should be good. Put in the effort to prepare your pitch deck and present your ideas nicely. The obvious first step in pitching your projects is to create a website. I have a detailed article on how to set up a free website with GitHub Pages. If you want to check it out, the link is in the resources section above. After your project is in a basic presentable format, you can start applying for grants to bring your project to life. If your project becomes a success, you can look for further funding to make it into a commercial success.
In general, I would recommend looking for funding after developing your project as much as possible. This massively increases your chances of getting attention. Also, Investors love it when they see a potential success in their hands. Good luck in your project journey and let me know of your failures and success so I can feature them in an article or a video.
“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” - Steve Jobs