I've been involved in helping out doing support for an open source project for a year or two now, and the project has gained a lot of popularity since I started. The program sees more than 100,000 downloads per week, and is used by more than 60% of people in its primary field, so we're obviously delighted that people have enjoyed using it so much.
However, the problem is that the development and support base has not grown nearly as fast, and we're starting to hit some growing pains. The small handful of developers (the main developer in particular) are getting stretched pretty thin, and the tech support volunteers are starting to get burned out.
Thus far, it has pretty much just been a bunch of dudes hanging out on IRC, writing this program and helping users. There's no 501(c)(3) organization or LLC or anything like that.
Right now, we don't have a very formal bug tracker or issue database (we do have a forum with a category dedicated to bug reports), which I do admit is something that we could improve to get more developers on board. But I suppose my real question is, how does one make the transition from small personal project to a real...thing? How have the big boys like GIMP, FFmpeg, Blender, etc. handled this transition?
And on top of this, is there a way to offer compensation with a FOSS project? I suppose donations help, but that only goes so far...it seems strange to make a living off of free software, but if the program is going to continue to get better, I don't see how we can continue without compensating people for full time work.
Basically, we're having some growing pains, and feeling "too big for our britches." What can we do to manage this transition and not get burnt out on doing too many things at once?