Matt Mullenweg, co-creator of WordPress and founder of Automattic, announced the Five for the Future campaign in September 2014:
I think a good rule of thumb that will scale with the community as it continues to grow is that organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with core — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress mission forward.
This suggestion caused a bit of a stir in the room when Matt explained it in his 2014 State of the Word speech at WordCamp SF, and it had already generated a good deal of discussion before that. Many companies have gotten on board since that and hired people just to work on WordPress Core.
I am a sole proprietor and not an engineer. WordPress core development is not in my future. Nor do I think I’m going to be the kind of support forum hero that Mika Epstein is.
But I definitely believe in the idea that if you benefit from an open source project, you should give back to the community. I give more than 5% of my time and energy to organizing the East Bay WordPress Meetup, helping people learn how to do ever-better things with WordPress.