This article aims to shed light on the current status of Godot’s funding, hiring, and our plans for sustainable funding long term.
Current funding and spending
State of Godot’s funding
Godot is sustained completely by donations. To date, those donations have taken the form of Patreon pledges, PayPal transfers, and one-time grants. By nature, only the Patreon donations are recurring (although some choose to make recurring payments through PayPal). Even then, we can’t totally rely on them as the month-to-month amount fluctuates. At the time of writing, it is just under $14,000 USD per month, but the amount we receive after fees is much less.
To account for the temporary nature of donations, we have been cautious about expanding the team. In the past, we waited until we had enough funds on hand to pay for a full year contract for a person before signing a contract with them.
Additionally, when the project was much smaller than it is now, Godot was receiving more funds than it could use due to difficulties in finding suitable candidates for hiring. As a result, we were cautious about expanding the team. This led to Godot carrying funds over year-to-year.
In the past two years, however, the amount of contributors has grown significantly, and more individuals that met the project requirements became available for hire. This, combined with the pressing need to turn the Godot 4.0 development into a stable release, resulted in an increased number of hires and a level of spending greater than our current level of month-to-month donations.
We want to keep the current group of paid contributors, but we need more funding in order to do so.
This amount of hires, at the current level of funding, is not sustainable long term. Thanks to the regular income from Patreon and PayPal, we aren’t going to immediately run out of funds, but we are spending more each month than we take in. Therefore, to keep the current group of paid contributors and to maintain the current development pace, the project needs to increase the amount of funding it receives.
Current and future hires
The foundation currently has 10 contractors (some part-time, some full-time) for a total cost of roughly 40,000 USD per month. These people work in a variety of fields that benefit the engine such as editor UX, rendering, production, fundraising, C# integration, and GDScript development.
At the time of writing, the Godot project (through the SFC and the Foundation) has contracts with the following people:
- Bastiaan Olij (BastiaanOlij)
- Emilio Coppola (Emi)
- George Marques (vnen)
- Hugo Locurcio (Calinou)
- Ignacio Etcheverry (neikeq)
- Juan Linietsky (reduz)
- Pāvels Nadtočajevs (bruvzg)
- Remi Verschelde (akien-mga)
- Tomasz Chabora (KoBeWi)
- Yuri Sizov (YuriSizov)
There are some areas where we realize that Godot still needs extra work that isn’t being done by volunteers, and we are hoping to hire some more people in the future to cover these areas. Among them are: expanding rendering features, improving editor usability, improving overall performance and improving the asset I/O pipeline. We identified some people that would be ideal for the roles but we need more donations to make it happen.
Reimbursements and other expenses
Carrying the same policy from Software Freedom Conservancy, a small amount of funding is dedicated to travel reimbursements (Godot contributors meet twice a year during Godot Sprints to discuss engine development).
Additionally, while hardware vendors sometimes donate the hardware needed to develop Godot, the project sometimes needs to help contributors with hardware reimbursements in order for them to test their code on different platforms, GPUs, etc.
Travel reimbursements and hardware costs are a very small proportion of the project’s overall expenses and total less than $1,000 USD most years. The rest of the funding goes directly to paying contractors.
Godot hiring process
We would like to touch on the hiring process for paid Godot contributors.
The hiring process for Godot works differently than it does for traditional software companies. In traditional software companies, job postings are listed and candidates are evaluated until one is eventually hired. New hires need to go through an on-boarding process and it takes time for them to fully understand and get familiar with how the current project works. This process often requires significant assistance from their peers (preventing them from doing their own work) until the new hire feels comfortable and productive. It is possible that this new person will never fully onboard or perform as expected and companies accept this cost.
For Godot, the process works differently. We typically do not make public job postings, we identify individuals who are already knowledgeable about Godot, have experience in areas that need more contributions, and work well with other contributors. As Godot is a highly popular FOSS software project (over 2,000 contributors), it is typically not difficult for us to find such individuals for most areas of the engine.
This way, when enough funding is available, we can ask these contributors if they would like to work full (or part) time for the Godot project so they can continue working on what they are already working on, but dedicate several more hours to Godot as well. This significantly accelerates the pace of Godot development and ensures that donation funds are always used on hires that will maximize the return on investment.
Thanks to this policy, Godot development can happen at a fraction of the cost of larger commercial offerings and get more done dollar-for-dollar (and making the results fully free, Open Source, and available for everyone to use in any way they want).
This approach to hiring has scaled well with the growth of the project and we hope that it continues into the future. As always, we strive to do as much as we can with what we have and we hope that you continue to trust us and believe in the future of the project.
Future of funding
New donation platform
We are launching a Godot Development Fund page, taking inspiration from our friends at Blender and the amazing Blender Development Fund. The Godot Development Fund will operate much the same way allowing users to make recurring or one-time donations from a centralized location.
We decided on offering this new donation platform as it became increasingly clear that using a third-party tool like Patreon was costing too much relative to the service it offers. Due to taxes, payment processing fees and other costs, Godot is receiving substantially less than what is donated through the platform. At the same time, there are few similar services that cater to not-for-profits operating on the scale of Godot. Ultimately, we have decided to follow in the footsteps of our friends at Blender and Krita.
The new donation platform is mostly ready; you can already use it to set up a recurring donation via PayPal if you would like! In the coming weeks, we expect to finalize the donation platform and we will have a big announcement post once it is 100% finished.
We will keep the Patreon operational for the foreseeable future as we heavily rely on the current donations we receive through it. But for future donations, please consider using the Development Fund as it results in more of your donation going towards development.
Diversification of funding sources
With the new Godot Foundation, it is expected that the Godot Project should be able to further diversify its funding, going into areas such as:
- Paid asset store (taking a percentage of sales).
These are still in the early planning phases as our priority until now has been to get the donation platform operational. To be clear, we do not anticipate that we will be able to sustain the project through the asset store and merchandise alone as we will intentionally operate them with very thin margins. We are a not-for-profit project first and foremost and we will not compromise that.
During 2023, the transition from Software Freedom Conservancy to the Godot Foundation will take place. Existing contracts with the SFC will end and new contracts with the Godot Foundation will be signed to ensure continuity.
The SFC publishes its own transparency reports at the end of every year with detailed information on funding sources and use of funds, but as they manage several projects, they don’t go into the specifics of each one for every spending category. Godot will be included in the SFC’s annual report for 2022 and 2023, but the Godot Foundation will be responsible for publishing its own annual reports for 2023 onward.
The Godot Foundation will publish its own transparency reports in 2024 covering its inception in 2022 until the end of 2023 based on its own funding and cash flows. This will overlap with the SFC’s 2022 and 2023 reports. As the report will cover Godot exclusively, it can cover more details than what the SFC reports can cover. Particularly, interested readers can expect to find clear breakdowns of sources of funding and categories of expenses.
While it may be desirable to publish this information more often, please understand that these reports have to be audited to comply with local law and can be expensive and time consuming to prepare. We will, however, be able to post up-to-date information about our monthly funding thanks to the new donation platform.
With the strong growth of the Godot Engine project user base and the growing number of contributors, an increased amount of funding will be needed to keep up the expected development pace, so stay tuned for the new Godot Developer Fund or help now by donating here. A big thank you to everyone who has contributed their time or financial support to the project. We wouldn’t be here without you.