There are a few ways to motivate people to contribute work to open source projects. The most common (and best) is intrinsic motivation. Get people to contribute to a project because they think it’s important and that their contributions are valuable. While core developers to e.g. Bitcoin may have a personal investment in the project, Bitcoin has no way of paying those developers for any improvements they make to the protocol. So it relies on the intrinsic motivation of the developers.

The other way is to pay people for their contributions. Outside of crypto, these payments mostly come from corporations. While some contributors fund their work via donations (e.g. Patreon), the vast majority contribute to open source as part of their work within a for-profit entity.

Within crypto, minting magical internet money affords projects a way to pay for contributions directly. Sometimes, that’s a foundation (e.g. Ethereum) capitalized by an initial allocation of the projects tokens. Other times its funding through inflation (e.g. ZCash founders reward).

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