Unlike Maya and Cinema 4D, Blender is the product of a not-for-profit charitable organization in the form of the Blender foundation. Yet somehow the software seems to develop at a much faster rate than the competition even from highly reputable companies like Autodesk. So where does Blender get all of its money from?
Blender 3D is financed through a combination of individual patrons, influencers, and global companies that all have a vested interest in the development of Blender. Anyone can become a patron and contribute towards the funding of the Blender development team that continues to improve the software.
Blender has always been a community-based software with an ever-growing fan base, so it is no surprise that there are many individuals and even small parties that donate to Blender’s ongoing development. But at the other end of the spectrum, it may surprise you to learn which major companies are also invested.
Which Companies Are Sponsors Of The Blender Foundation?
You will not be surprised to learn that Autodesk is not among these companies that invest in Blender, as they are effectively the most direct competition on the 3D scene. But you will be surprised at who IS a patron to the Blender Foundation.
Below I have compiled a shortlist of some of the major companies that have financially invested in the development of this free, open-source software:
- Epic Mega Grants
As you can see many of the top companies in various tech-based fields and industries are either patrons or corporate partners of the Blender foundation. This list does highlight the most significant investors but is by no means comprehensive.
You can get a better idea of all the corporate investors and their ranks from the Blender website which you can access using this link.
Why Do Some Of These Companies Invest In Blender?
Blenders’ versatility and popularity have resulted in a growing influence across multiple industries, from social media to game design. There are generally two reasons why a company may want to donate to the Blender foundation.
First, and most importantly, the power of the Blender software allows it to be used for a variety of different projects, and its scope for development is limitless. A company might want to use Blender to create an add-on that allows Blender to integrate with those companies’ own apps.
An example of this is Facebook, which has become a patron of the Blender Foundation with a focus on developing VR and AR applications. Other companies like Unity partner with Blender because many game assets, especially from independent developers, are created using the Blender software.
For different reasons, these companies all have a vested interest in seeing Blender develop as an application, but there is also a marketing factor here as well.
Blender is held in very high regard by many of its users for being an open-source software that is easily accessible while at the same time being comparable to much more expensive applications such as Maya.
As such you could also consider it to be a good PR move for a major organization to form a partnership with Blender.
What Are The Different Tier Systems That Blender Uses For Donations?
If you go to the Blender website, then you can go to the donate section where you will find a substantial list of supporters and investors in the Blender software, and these supporters are divided up into a series of tiers. But what are these tiers and why are they used?
Well, Blender is wholly reliant on this tier system from a financial respective, as it cannot be used as a product that can be sold to generate income in the form of a subscription or a perpetual license. The tier system itself is divided up into three sections.
Traditional memberships are designed for members of the Blender community to contribute to Blenders’ development to the extent that they are comfortable. Each tier represents its own subscription model that anyone can sign up for and donate to on a monthly basis.
For example, the lowest tier is the bronze tier, which is a $6 a month subscription. Meanwhile, the Diamond tier at the other end of the scale is a $300 a month subscription.
It should be noted that you do not need to be on any subscription tier to use Blender, and actually, there are many casual Blender artists who don’t even know this system exists. Also, there is a benefit to choosing a higher subscription.
If you choose gold or higher, then you can have your name or the name of your business listed on the donate home page as a form of advertisement. Go even higher to Titanium or Diamond and you can have your name act as a link to your website.
Then we have the corporate memberships which are designed for companies that want to invest in the development of a specific aspect of the Blender software which will directly impact their own business in the form of an application or add-on associated with Blender. These are still technically classed as donations and are divided up into bronze, silver, and gold tiers, with different levels of investment for each tier.
The bronze tier is 6000 euros per year, the silver is 12000 and the gold is 30000. You may have noticed that a key difference between standard memberships and corporate memberships is the currency used. Dollars are used for standard tiers while euros are applied to corporate memberships, as Blender is based in the Netherlands.
Corporate members get their logos advertised on the donate page of the Blender website. In Addition, the company will work closely with Blender to help develop the specific toolset that they are interested in.
This is effectively a higher-tier version of a corporate gold membership. A corporate patron investment can start from 120000 euros per year but can go beyond that depending on the agreement in place between the Blender Foundation and the partner organization.
Beyond the price of an investment, there is not a great deal of difference between the gold and patron tiers. Patron members can be found at the top of the pile n the donate page and have a greater influence on potential future projects for improving Blender, though not the final say by any means.
What Are The Different Ways In Which I Can Donate To Blender?
In addition to the above, there are alternative methods that you can use to invest in the development of the Blender software.
These are one-time payments that you can use to help contribute as little or as much as you want. Again there is no obligation to do so here.
You can donate a one-off payment via a bank transfer using your debit or credit card. Note that there is an additional fee of 10 USD if you are donating from outside the EU.
You can alternatively use Paypal to donate if you own a Paypal account to get around the additional fee.
And if you are feeling particularly adventurous then you can try donating via a form of cryptocurrency. Blender recognizes Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin as the currencies that they are willing to accept donations for.
Can Anyone Donate To The Blender Foundation To Support The Software?
Yes, with all of the different methods for donating to Blender, almost anyone can contribute to the Blender Foundation and the development of the Blender software.
The only real obstacles may relate to your location, as not all countries use Paypal and the subscription models may be too expensive depending on where you live.
Should you donate to Blender? That is entirely up to you as a user of the Blender software. But remember that Blender itself exists as open-source software and will always be free to both download and use no matter who you are.
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