I thought of this while seeing an ad to support an extension I use in my editor. My first thought was that while I’d like to support the extension, I’m not sure I could afford (or convince my wife) to give money every month to all the tools that I use. This lead to a thought about asking my company to support the tool on my behalf, which lead to a more meta idea: Patreon for Dev Tools.
The basic principle would be that a company is created that takes recurring donations from it’s users (or their companies) and divides it among all of the tools and extensions the developer indicates that they use. For example, I indicate that I use Extension A and Tool B. I set my monthly donation to $5 and go about my business. At the end of the month the donation is charged, split evenly (you could use metrics to see how the split should be divided, but I think that’s creepy) between Ext. A and Tool B.
The donation could even be a perk provided by companies: “A $25/mo DevDonor stipend for each employee”. You’d have to vet the tools/extensions (to show that they are in active development and of value) but overall anyone could apply. Monetization would either be a cut of each donation, or the tool itself could be a recipient.