I’ve used [removed] products for several years. Rather than glossing over
the Donate invitation that comes up when downloading/installing , I
would strongly recommend and encourage users to consider donating any amount to
support further development of the software program(s). I have contributed
twice and would encourage others to do so at least once.
Obviously, this wasn’t so much a question as it is a statement or a
recommendation made by one of my readers.
A recommendation that I agree with.
Yes, I believe that if you can you should “pay” for most free software that
you find valuable and use regularly.
I’ll explain why.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
There’s no such thing as free
It takes significant time, energy, and resources to create
Even if you aren’t paying for it directly, someone, somewhere is.
They’re donating that time, energy, and those resources to create something –
it’s certainly not free to them.
Now, they may opt to do it as a “labor of love,” or for other altruistic
reasons, and that’s fantastic.
But often, they do provide a means for you to show your support for what
they’re doing with a donation or other form of payment.
Unsupported projects die
One of the most frustrating things is to come across a fantastic piece of
software that looks like it’ll work well to solve a specific problem or use
case, only to find that it’s been abandoned. That means no more bug fixes, no
more updates for new platforms, no more authoritative answers to questions you
Sadly, that happens to a lot of free software. I see it all the time. Sure,
sometimes, it’s software that – to put it bluntly – deserves to die, but even
good software frequently gets abandoned for lack of support.
Developers often end up abandoning projects because they turn out not to
be worth their time.
To put it bluntly, providing free software doesn’t pay the bills.
It doesn’t have to be a lot
It’s a classic case in philanthropy that extends to the world of free
software: $5, for example, doesn’t seem like something worth giving, so you
And thousand other people feel the same way.
So, what could perhaps add up to $5,000 adds up to … nothing.
It sounds trite, it sounds condescending even, but it’s true; every little
bit helps. It all adds up.
Can’t afford it? No problem
If you can’t afford it, fine. Don’t worry. Often, your situation is exactly
why free software exists.
Maybe someday later, you can “pay it back” in one form or another, but even
then you don’t need to.
But if you can, consider it.
The ultimate reward system
For projects that make donations to the cause possible, it’s the ultimate
reward system. You’re telling the people that run that project that, yes, you
believe in their work, their project, their software, and want them to
In fact, there’s a strong argument that says donations say more than
payments for commercial software.
You only donate if you want to.
You only donate once you’ve decided that the software has provided
sufficient value to you.
One donation says more than a dozen sales as far as I’m concerned.
If you find that free software you’ve been using for a while valuable.
Perhaps you’d even gladly pay for what it does for you, even though you don’t
have to …
Consider “paying for it” anyway after the fact with a donation if the
developer has a mechanism for doing so.
Not only will it show your support, but it might very well help ensure that
the software will continue to be updated and supported into the future.