Microsoft cares about open source sustainability—through its membership across multiple initiatives and foundations to ongoing empowerment efforts to encourage and reward contributions and beyond. Building a culture where every employee can visualize and embrace their responsibility to upstream projects is at the forefront of the Open Source Program’s Office (OSPO) work, which embodies the goals of Microsoft’s FOSS Fund.
Building on the work of others
In the spirit of open source, this work builds on the work of our peers, specifically the FOSS Fund model created by Indeed, and with ongoing collaboration with TODO Group members working on similar goals for supporting open source in their companies. At Microsoft, FOSS Fund is an employee-driven effort that builds awareness of open source sustainability through giving. The fund awards $10,000 USD each month to open source projects nominated by employees.
Since the program’s launch nearly two years ago, 34 projects have been selected, as determined by thousands of employee votes. While we don’t track how funds are used, some projects have shared that they used the funds for everything from sponsoring a contributor to creating brand assets, attending events, and covering technology and subscription expenses.
Creating visibility for Open Source projects, maintainers, and their impact
To date, Microsoft’s FOSS Fund has been awarded to small projects with big impact Syn and ajv, as well as larger, foundational projects with established communities like curl, Network Time Protocol (NTP), and webpack. We were proud to see employees nominating and voting for projects with impact for accessibility and inclusion like Chayn, Optikey, and NVDA. Beyond size and impact nominations spanned a range of ecosystems including gaming with Godot Engine, and mapping with the much-loved OpenStreetMap project.
Employee nominations helped surface and rally support for a vast range of open technology making software better, more secure, faster, easier to document, easier to test, easier to query with projects like dbatools, OpenSSL, Babel, rust-analyzer, Reproducible Builds, QEMU, Grain and mermaid-js.
Celebrating and looking forward
To celebrate FOSS Fund 25 we invited all employees whose projects were not selected in previous FOSS Funds to propose a project for a one-time $500.00 award. This resulted in over 40 more projects and project maintainers receiving this microgrant over the last few days (with 2 still to be issued).
Additionally for 2023, we will strive to grow our impact on, and to be more intentional about funding inclusion. To that end, we will add a new D&I track to the FOSS Fund with awards directed towards projects having impact on diversity and inclusion, or to efforts within upstream projects (like working groups) working on D&I efforts. The new track will run alternate months. We hope this will continue to build a culture of awareness and responsibility for open source sustainability.
If you or your organization are interested in building your own FOSS Fund you can check out Indeed’s free resource. If you are interested in collaborating on, or have ideas for impacting diversity and inclusion through such a program, please reach out to me, or join the TODO group Slack channel and say hello!