hledger Ukraine donation

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Simon Michael

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Mar 21, 2022, 11:13:17 PMMar 21
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Open Collective, the fiscal sponsor who holds our project funds, has this to say on Ukraine:

Among the activities, Open Source Collective (https://opencollective.com/opensource), the largest grouping of FOSS projects on Open Collective, has set up an easy way for FOSS projects to contribute to a group of medical and journalism organizations in Ukraine. I'm thinking of making a contribution from the hledger project, say $500 of our current $5600 balance. 

I realise others in the world are also suffering and need help, but.. any objections/concerns ?

Best,
-Simon


Henning Thielemann

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Mar 22, 2022, 3:31:18 AMMar 22
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On Mon, 21 Mar 2022, Simon Michael wrote:

> Among the activities, Open Source Collective
> (https://opencollective.com/opensource), the largest grouping of FOSS
> projects on Open Collective, has set up an easy way for FOSS projects to
> contribute to a group of medical and journalism organizations in
> Ukraine. I'm thinking of making a contribution from the hledger project,
> say $500 of our current $5600 balance. 

Is this money, people gave for supporting the hledger project? I'd then
say the money is used for hledger and not for other purposes.

Simon Michael

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Mar 22, 2022, 9:58:44 PMMar 22
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Thanks for the viewpoint Henning. This is actually a good chance to open some discussion about right uses of hledger's project funds, which is useful as I want to more actively manage project finances this year.

Here are a few other ways to look at it:

1. Supporting the hledger project can mean giving money to the hledger project for it to use as it sees fit. General project donations are not specifically for coding, eg. (There are probably various descriptions on various donation forms of what they are for, which we could analyse..)

2. Allocating a small portion of our assets to worthy causes now and then could be something the hledger project does, like many other FOSS projects. Some possible reasons:

- one way of "giving back" for the benefits we enjoy that enable us to do our thing
- assisting our current and potential Ukrainian and Russian contributors and their families
- participating in global efforts to minimise humanitarian crisis, escalation and nuclear war (all "bad for the project")
- we feel moved to do it

3. I have tried to position the OpenCollective funds as "project's money", unlike personal donations sent directly to me. And I have lots of great plans for how we can explore this further. But technically and in the "real world", that's a fiction; I control it and I'm pretty sure I owe the IRS taxes on it. :-/ Also, I have yet to take any of it to cover project expenses since 2006, or a personal "salary", but that's maybe a good idea and overdue. So if the project were against this, I could maybe compensate myself and then do it as a personal donation. Either way, of course it's good to be clear about what we decide.


Currently it's 3 for (on chat, including me) and 1 against.

Best

Simon Michael

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Mar 22, 2022, 10:27:27 PMMar 22
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PS, I've sort of mixed two topics here

- Seeking a rough consensus about this proposed humanitarian donation from the project. Hopefully this can be decided fairly quickly.

- General discussion of right use and protocol for hledger project funds. This is needed so I/we can use them effectively and not just let them pile up. This might or might not be a delicate topic, and we can discuss as much as needed. 

I have a strong desire to realise some original project goals: 

- to be financially self-supporting (at least in some sense), 
- and as a prerequisite for that, to be financially organised and transparent - tracking and reporting project finances. OC finances are public, but we should of course be eating our own dogfood and tracking everything in full detail with hledger also.


Simon Michael

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Apr 12, 2022, 4:07:28 PMApr 12
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On Mar 22, 2022, at 16:27, Simon Michael <si...@joyful.com> wrote:
On Mar 22, 2022, at 15:58, Simon Michael <si...@joyful.com> wrote:
On Mar 21, 2022, at 21:31, Henning Thielemann <google...@henning-thielemann.de> wrote:
On Mon, 21 Mar 2022, Simon Michael wrote:
Among the activities, Open Source Collective (https://opencollective.com/opensource), the largest grouping of FOSS projects on Open Collective, has set up an easy way for FOSS projects to contribute to a group of medical and journalism organizations in Ukraine. I'm thinking of making a contribution from the hledger project, say $500 of our current $5600 balance. 

Is this money, people gave for supporting the hledger project? I'd then say the money is used for hledger and not for other purposes.

Thanks for the viewpoint Henning. This is actually a good chance to open some discussion about right uses of hledger's project funds, which is useful as I want to more actively manage project finances this year.
...

Currently it's 3 for (on chat, including me) and 1 against. 


I paused this and then dropped the ball - sorry. This is now done. I have made a $500 donation from the project to support these humanitarian and journalistic integrity organisations :


Thanks all,
-Simon

Henning Thielemann

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Apr 12, 2022, 4:24:16 PMApr 12
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On Tue, 12 Apr 2022, Simon Michael wrote:

> I paused this and then dropped the ball - sorry. This is now done. I
> have made a $500 donation from the project to support these humanitarian
> and journalistic integrity organisations :
>
> https://opencollective.com/support-ukraine#category-ABOUT


What about supporting journalism on our side and e.g. free Assange?

Simon Michael

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Apr 12, 2022, 5:47:10 PMApr 12
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That's the problem with making any kind of donation - why not all the others ?

If you are serious, by all means we can discuss making this a periodic thing and how to pick some next candidates.

Henning Thielemann

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Apr 12, 2022, 5:54:40 PMApr 12
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On Tue, 12 Apr 2022, Simon Michael wrote:

>> On Apr 12, 2022, at 10:24, Henning Thielemann <google...@henning-thielemann.de> wrote:
>>
>> On Tue, 12 Apr 2022, Simon Michael wrote:
>>
>>> I paused this and then dropped the ball - sorry. This is now done. I have made a $500 donation from the project to support these humanitarian and journalistic integrity organisations :
>>> https://opencollective.com/support-ukraine#category-ABOUT
>>
>>
>> What about supporting journalism on our side and e.g. free Assange?
>
>
> That's the problem with making any kind of donation - why not all the others ?

That's why I think that donations to the hledger project should be used
for the hledger project. Any donor who wants to support anything different
can support that thing directly.

At least, donors should be warned that their donations might be redirected
to an off-topic project and should be told how to mark donations such that
they are actually only used for the hledger project. (My dictionary says:
"Zweckbindung" = appropriation; earmark; ring fence.)

Simon Michael

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Apr 12, 2022, 6:19:55 PMApr 12
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Also, I hope "on our side" doesn't apply here, except the "side" that prefers safety for refugees and journalists.

But I hear your points Henning. This was among other things a chance to practice and figure out what works, my procedure was to propose it and proceed if there was enough support and little enough objection, which there was. 

I can see this kind of thing gets tricky fast and would need a careful process. As you say, clear communcation about use of funds up front is the most important thing. I'll try to review and improve that.

Simon Michael

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Apr 12, 2022, 6:35:25 PMApr 12
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PS even though the decision was made and the amount was not large, it's of course still possible to correct things if a bunch of objection appears. Input from substantial donors carries more weight of course.


Simon Michael

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Apr 12, 2022, 6:57:54 PMApr 12
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Please excuse another self reply.. it's an important topic and I'm trying to explore it. 

Just another note: as can be seen in the hledger_finance repo, and as I might have already said, part of all donations also go to

- payment processors, Paypal/Stripe/etc., for "moving the money" (~3%)
- our fiscal sponsor, Open Source Collective, for "holding the money" (10%)
- US and local tax authorities, as income tax I must pay, for "governing and stuff" (~~25% ?)

Shouldn't these be called out clearly to potential donors also ? The sponsor/processor fees amount to $1218 to date.

I guess these are less controversial, since they're not really optional and we are accustomed to them. (They make a $2 donation *really* uneconomic though..)

Isn't it great that we have some financial clarity, causing us to engage with these awkward real-world topics ?


Henning Thielemann

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Apr 13, 2022, 2:37:25 AMApr 13
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On Tue, 12 Apr 2022, Simon Michael wrote:

> Please excuse another self reply.. it's an important topic and I'm trying to explore it. 
>
> Just another note: as can be seen in the hledger_finance repo, and as I might have already said, part of all donations also go to
>
> - payment processors, Paypal/Stripe/etc., for "moving the money" (~3%)
> - our fiscal sponsor, Open Source Collective, for "holding the money" (10%)
> - US and local tax authorities, as income tax I must pay, for "governing and stuff" (~~25% ?)
>
> Shouldn't these be called out clearly to potential donors also ? The sponsor/processor fees amount to $1218 to date.

Of course!

There are enough charity organisations that have so high management costs
that there is hardly money left for the actual purpose of the
organisation.

In Germany we had an activist (Stefan Loipfinger) who critically
researched how money is used by charity organisations:
http://www.charitywatch.de/

Simon Michael

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Apr 13, 2022, 10:06:14 AMApr 13
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On Apr 12, 2022, at 12:19, Simon Michael <si...@joyful.com> wrote:
I can see this kind of thing gets tricky fast and would need a careful process. As you say, clear communcation about use of funds up front is the most important thing. I'll try to review and improve that.

I have updated https://hledger.org/sponsor.html to clarify things, feedback welcome.

Michael Vessia

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Apr 13, 2022, 1:30:45 PMApr 13
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I didn't respond here initially because I'm actually not an active user of hledger, though I follow the discussions as I used it in the past to help get through some more financially difficult times.  It's great software and I thank you for it.  I understand my opinion has little weight given my lack of association with the project.

I do contribute to some other FOSS projects, and in general when I'm contributing, I am doing so to support the project and its development not a humanitarian cause, however noble that cause may be.  There is (unfortunately) almost always some humanitarian crisis going on in our world, and I do try to contribute in other ways.  I feel my position can be misconstrued as being against general support of those people who are victims in whatever crisis is currently ongoing. This is not the case, I just think it's hard to make a value judgement on which causes to support with project funds, and other people may feel similarly to me that while I don't think it's a bad use of funds, it's not exactly what I expected them to be used for. With that said, I'm also not opposed to contributions being part of a "developer salary" at which point the developer(s) can do whatever they want with the funds.  

Thanks again for all your work

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Jonathan Jouty

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Apr 13, 2022, 2:11:34 PMApr 13
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Hi Simon,

Thanks for the transparent process, I think it's great that if there is surplus, it can be used for social good.
Perhaps one of the oldest examples of such behaviour in the open source space is Vim. From https://www.vim.org/sponsor/index.php:
Since Bram no longer needs it, the money will be used to help children in Uganda. This is the charity recommended by Vim's author. The money is used for a children centre in the south of Uganda, where AIDS has caused many victims. But at the same time donations increase Bram's motivation to keep working on Vim!

Personally, I see no problem with it, especially as you are being transparent and communicating openly, so thanks for that.

Best wishes,
Jonathan
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