Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1993 18:02:49 GMT
Subject: Funding the FSF
[ Please repost this wherever you think is appropriate. ]
Funding the FSF
There is a great deal of confusion about how the FSF gets its funds
and what it does with them. This article may help to clear it up.
Some people think that the FSF is possible because it gets funds from
the US government. Actually, it does not. One computer on permanent
loan to us from the CMU Mach project was ultimately funded by the
government, but the FSF has never been paid by the government. (New
York University has a government contract to develop GNU Ada, but the
FSF is not directly involved.)
Until recently, the FSF did not ask for government funds. Now we
would accept them, but none have been offered so far. If we do get
government funds, we would be like numerous universities and
companies. In doing without them so far, we have been unusual.
Some people think that the FSF operates with funds from the MacArthur
Foundation. We would be grateful if they were to support us, but they
do not. Richard Stallman received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship
in 1990. It lasts for five years and the pay, while comfortable, is
small by good programmers' pay scales. It is too little to fund the
Some people even think that Richard Stallman makes a profit from the
FSF. This is false for two reasons. First of all, there are no
profits from the FSF, because it is a non-profit organization; all
funds we raise go toward our charitable purpose: making more free
software. Secondly, Stallman isn't paid by the FSF. He is an unpaid
volunteer, not an employee, and always has been.
Some people think that the FSF is possible because of a subsidy from
someone wealthy. The FSF has received a few large gifts of funds. We
thank, for example, Hewlett Packard and the OSF. But large gifts have
never provided the bulk of our funds. Ever since the FSF was started
in 1985, most of its funds have come from distribution--from orders
for tapes and, now, CD-ROMs and MS-DOS floppies.
For many years, distribution brought the FSF sufficient income that we
did not need to urge people to support us. However, in the past year
or two, orders have declined, which means that the FSF cannot do as
much work as we used to. Orders for manuals remain high, but the $20
typical price of a manual provides little funds to support development.
So from now on we will need to ask you to support the FSF. Having
your office order tapes or CD-ROMs from the FSF is the easiest way to
In particular, if you buy distribution copies of GNU software, please
choose the FSF as your source, because that way you will give
significant support to development of more GNU software. If you buy
copies from most other distributors, little or none of your money goes
to free software development.
The FSF also gratefully accepts donations of any size; as we are tax
exempt, your donations are tax-deductible.
Like listener-supported radio, we depend on you to continue our work.
In the long run, the amount of free software that we can provide to
you is a function of how much you contribute.
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