[Foundation-l] fundraising idea

Tim Starling tstarling at wikimedia.org
Sun Nov 18 08:42:54 UTC 2007

Colin Maroney wrote:
> Hi.  I have just this minute subscribed to the list and read about your
> fundraising difficulties, discussed in early Nov.  I came after having
> thrown $25 your way, the average donation i see.  I have an idea as to how
> you guys could make money ethically, unobtrusively, wiithout alienating
> customers, and it's cheap to implement.
> Micropayments.  Ask people to voluntarily become subscribers to a
> micropayment system.  They give you $5 up front.  You charge them .01 a
> page, or maybe .05 tops.  I like $.01 better, because it is literally the
> least you can ask.  Charge their account, you don't need to ask for a credit
> card each time, you have $5, just take it out of that until it's gone.

At a rate of $0.01 per page view, it would take 2500 page views to match 
your $25 donation. Surely most of our readers would take years to rack up 
such a figure.

If you had signed up for micropayments, would you still have given that 
$25? Or would your guilt have been assuaged, content that you are paying 
your fair share?

My basic concern is that such a system would reduce the average annual 
donation made by motivated donors such as yourself, and that this won't be 
balanced out by an increase in the number of donors.

> How many articles do you serve a day?  a buck a hundred will add up fast.

Compulsory micropayments, say paid by the ISP and passed on to the 
customer, would presumably lead to a very low cost per page view for a 
low-cost, volunteer-based website like Wikipedia. But that's an idle 
fantasy. With opt-in micropayments, you have to rely on that same finite 
resource of generosity that we are tapping into with the current 
fundraising drive.

It could work, I think, but only if the price was high enough to bring the 
average annual donation for a typical donor back to around where it is 
now, or higher. I don't have figures for typical number of page views per 
year per person, but I suspect a workable price would be closer to $0.10 
than $0.01 -- closer to what a person is willing to give, rather than what 
a single page view actually costs. In an opt-in system, the vast majority 
of page views will be served to non-donors, and the donors must subsidise 

-- Tim Starling

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