I left a comment on the original page, I hope you don’t mind the cross-post: http://disq.us/p/1ikud68
Having served on the board of a small-to-mid-size foundation, I can definitely see where you are coming from. There’s money around, but no players to accept and manage it. If you spend time on finding it, you will receive. I also played ping-pong with these kinds of ideas with some people.
My biggest realization is that most proposals tiptoe around the big elephant in the room: this is fundamentally about fundraising and fund management, where the big, experienced, players sit somewhere else. Having all projects individually fundraise doesn’t scale, especially as it adds another big thing on their very full work schedule. Also, not everyone is an expert at marketing themselves and I don’t think people should be. With fundraising comes fund distribution (which may come in many forms) and - if you are taking on larger sums - the responsibility of that. If you don’t do that, you end up in the same situation as the Ruby community, which had 2 large successful crowd-funders which didn’t deliver at all.
Another system to direct donation to individuals in some form also doesn’t help (which basically is my answer to your questions). What you really want is big players to pay and for them, it’s far easier to send a cheque towards an org then to an individual.
For these kinds of jobs and techniques, one should probably look beyond FOSS circles and try to get in touch with other non-profits. Experts in this field want to be paid, though, which leads to a nasty chicken-and-egg problem. After that comes the task of convincing the wider FOSS audience that it makes sense to pay a management fee for funds.
I don’t think “simple” ideas cut it here, but a fundamental shift in how we organise.
P.S.: Individual developers instead of their companies paying towards projects they use on a daily basis feels like an additional tax for being in the industry for me.
Patreon is already ideal for this (eg https://www.patreon.com/user?u=619786 ).
Giving supporters access to a bug tracker doesn’t have to be integrated (you can invite them by hand to your bug tracker / forums / smoke signals).
I know this is far beyond the scope of funding OSS, but I can not keep myself from mentioning that the problem of funding people doing OSS work or all kinds of other non-paid work could also be solved if we as a society would finally move beyond the idea that everybody (who isn’t rich or “clever” enough to avoid it) has to “work” for their living (as in: do whatever it takes to be able to pay for food, shelter and the basic necessities).
If you haven’t guessed already what I am on about: I am talking about introducing a universal basic income.
Relevant SMBC ;)
This is already being done without a central service provider.
One way is to have a foundation which accepts donations on behalf of a project and pays some developers for specific work. Some communities do this (e.g. OpenBSD) some do not (e.g. the ASF wants to stay out of the money side of things).
In both cases, individual developers (or their employer) can sign contracts with clients, where the stated goal of that contract is a contribution to an open source project. There are some differences to work for hire on proprietary software, mostly regarding the open source development process and licensing. A good reference in this context is http://producingoss.com/en/money.html
Colin’s idea seems to differ only in the sense that his service provider would support developers across several open source projects. I like this idea. It may allow smaller projects to get some funding. However, I don’t expect it will be enough to sustain a developer working on small projects full time.
Even with direct contracts that is rarely the case (as Colin mentions, hourly rates are high, so such contracts often have a limited timeframe/volume, so developers need several clients to make it profitable).
I still like flattr, although I only received 2,85€ overall.
The core idea for contribution is: You put a monthly amount into your flattr account, which is automatically dispersed to stuff you consume. As far as I remember it could distribute the money to all projects you starred on Github (if they can receive flattr money).
Flattr is not focused on code, though.