CiviCRM's funding model

I think the most transparent aspect of Civi is how it's funded. Not only do many many blog posts about new features or plans for improvement or the status of development tasks include information about how the feature or plan is being funded, but fundraising in general-- strategy, results, ideas--is widely discussed in the community. This is a huge strength of the community. The strategies that have arisen from it are great ways to distribute both power and responsibility to the user community. Most notable is Make It Happen, a crowdsourcing model that mobilizes the community around specific functionality; anyone can propose a Make It Happen. Though proposals do get vetted by the core team, it basically means that if the community's commitment to getting a feature is commensurate with the resources needed to built it, it will get done.

It's also possible to learn the history of Civi's funding pretty easily from a simple search of the website. Among the many, many things I learned from searching "funding" at are:

The combination of the accessibility of this information and the information itself shows that funding is an integral part of how Civi builds community and fosters strong cooperation among users. This is strongly demonstrated by the explicit and intentional connections the community makes between fundraising and governance. In particular, two blog posts about sustainability generated many comments and robust discussion about the relationship between the core team and the funding streams, particularly a proposed service providers association, which is basically a way of formalizing the most active community members into a structure of its own (with a more defined financial contribution). A few interesting and/or representative comments:

Basically, the Civi community is grappling--in public, no less--with major issues endemic to capitalism, organizational theory, grassroots organizations, funder/donor reluctance to value overhead, and the nonprofit-industrial complex. It's pretty inspiring even as the enormity of these issues is frustrating/daunting.