During the MediaGoblin campaign, many people came up to me and said something along the lines of: “You know, I’m really glad to hear about this campaign. I’ve been wanting the FSF to do more along the lines of helping fund free software projects” and “I’m really glad to see the FSF returning to more directly supporting software development again” or otherwise saying they were excited to see the FSF support some aspect of MediaGoblin that was really important to them for user freedom reasons (such as engaging free network services, building infrastructure to help with media hosting freedom, et cetera). Maybe you are one of these people!
Well, 2012 has come to a close and 2013 is just beginning, and as with every year, the FSF has an annual fundraising drive. This year the FSF’s campaign is titled “Dollars to Decibels”, and the implication is that you should donate to help the FSF continue to speak strongly. And that’s true; I think the FSF’s most important role above all is to be an ethical leader in the free software movement. So for that reason alone, you should donate to the FSF!
However, I think the reverse is also true: you should give money to the FSF not just so they can help send a message, but also to send a message to the FSF. If you are one of the forementioned people who thinks that this is a good direction for the FSF to go in, there’s a powerful way to let them know: donate, and inform them that one of the reasons you are lending your support is because you think this is a great direction for the organization to go in.
The FSF did get a 10% cut of the money raised for MediaGoblin’s campaign, and that might sound like a lot, but if you do the math on 43k raised, it’s only $4300.00… that’s not a bad chunk of change to get, but it’s also nowhere near the annual budget to fulfill the needs of the Free Software Foundation. The FSF is a small organization with limited resources, and it’s important for the organization to evaluate carefully where to put those resources. By donating and telling them that you believe this type of work is important, you send two messages: 1) that this is important to their base of supporters, which is a good message in and of itself, and 2) that this type of work is actually itself a way to raise resources, because there is additional funding brought in by a membership that feels that the things important to them are being engaged by the organization.
So! To wrap this up, if that makes sense to you, do the following: send in your donation to the FSF. If you’re joining as a new member, there’s a box on the form that says why… that’s a great place to put that message. (Oh, and if somehow I convinced you to join, it would be interesting to see that… my referral number is #3485.) Otherwise, if renewing, doing a one-time donation, or if you’ve already donated, you can help by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I know they’ll be listening!