I've proposed this before: the distributions are in the best position to provide funding for upstream projects, since they provide the website and package manager that most of the users see.
What I'd love to have is the following: I give 10 Euros monthly to my favorite distribution (Ubuntu or Debian). They distribute my monthly donation uniformly among the projects associated with the packages that I use.
This has many advantages:
- I don't need to remind myself about donating (it's like a monthly subscription).
- I don't need to put time into finding out where to donate next, what the payment method is, etc.
- Projects that we'd rarely consider donating to, but are vital to every system, e.g. coreutils, would also receive regular donations.
- Although my donation is distributed uniformly, popular applications have more users, and thus get a larger share of the pie.
Say that you could convince one million Linux users to donate ten Euros monthly, the pie is 120 million Euros per year, this would imply that major projects suddenly have a budget to address boring development tasks (polishing, bugfixing), and even smaller projects may have the budget to hire a developer one or two months full-time per year.
Of course, the downside is that you'd need infrastructure for projects to register themselves, etc. But it is a whole lot easier, and probably fairer than the current methods for getting funding.