The Apache Software Foundation, the nonprofit that gave us important technologies like HTTP Server, Tomcat, and Cassandra, runs on a surprisingly small budget. The annual budget in 2015, which was revealed during the “State of the Feather” address, stands around only $1 million, which mostly comes from corporate sponsors. In total, ASF manages almost 280 projects, all on a budget that would embarrass a start-up. That’s approximately $5,000 per project per year. So how do they do it?
Most of the money is spent on infrastructure to support developer work. However, it also includes travel assistance for contributors, publicity, legal wrangling, and brand management.
ASF survives thanks to support from businesses that rely on its projects. Many companies donate developer time and additional infrastructure services, but no one is quantifying all of these contributions. Despite the seemingly absent budget, the number of contributors to ASF’s projects has been steadily increasing since 1999.
Director of the foundation, Bertrand Delacretaz, thinks the secret is the neutral space they've created. A lot of the companies that contribute are actually competitors, but they all work together and collaborate on important projects that will benefit many people. Learn more here.