Hard to spend money

Jeff Atwood’s latest post asksĀ whether money useless to open source projects. Four months after his donation of $5,000 to the ScrewTurn Wiki project, they haven’t cashed his check because they haven’t thought of a way to use the money even though Jeff placed absolutely no restrictions on what they could do with it.

Jeff concludes that there’s something about open source projects that makes it harder for them to spend money. But I’ve seen the same thing outside of the open source world. I’ve often had people tell me they want a job done and offer me some chunk of grant money. The grant money would not be enough to hire a new developer on salary, and the funds couldn’t be used to hire a contractor. Either the job was too small to outsource or there was a legal restriction on how the money could be used. The project would just be extra work for the staff we already have and the grant money would be useless to the people doing the work.