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Last post Author Topic: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please  (Read 20733 times)

mouser

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Ok I really need everyone's help figuring out how we should handle this years fundraiser.

Those of you who have been around DC for a year or so may remember our last fundraiser, which was back in September of 2006.

Well 2007 is coming to a close and we haven't had a fundraiser yet.. So we need to have one in December, or not at all.

I have been thinking about it and I realized I can't make these decisions alone any more and they should be community decisions.  So let me lay out the issues and get some feedback from you guys and gals.



Issue #1: Should we have a fundraiser in December, and how should we focus it?

1. I think it's important to have a yearly fundraiser on the site.  It's a chance for us to reach out to people who might not otherwise consider donating, and a chance to reach out to people who have been readers and participants for a while and need a little extra reason to donate and join the site as a supporting member.

2. Normally one of the things I try to do during the fundraiser month is go all out and code and write stuff for the site to try to "earn" the fundraiser contributions.  This time however, I'm personally so busy for the next couple of months that it's all I can do to keep up with my normal software updates, etc.  So I feel a little uncomfortable asking for donations now of all months.

3. But on the other hand, what I'd love for us to do is take this as an opportunity to raise funds to help support additional programming projects on the site spearheaded by others, and to support others on the site who contribute to making it a great place.  So I'm kind of thinking we should have a fundraiser this year in December, and focus it on the idea of raising funds for future projects.

4. Actually I have some very big plans for 2008, including some web services on DC and an extremely cool new review system.  And I'd like us to get a more powerful member server so we can support giving out more web space for member projects.  And I'd like to encourage people who donate to the fundraiser to give their credits to people on the site whose work they want to support.



Issue #2: Assuming we have a fundraiser (or whenever we next have one), should we make public money raised and have a specific goal?

The last time we had a fundraiser we didn't say anything about how much was raised.  This is always an issue i get squirmy about in general because I know most websites don't talk about how much money they receive.  It seems to never have a positive effect.  Some people look and think what a failure of a project, and others look and think, they have enough they don't need my money.  And i never know how much we should expect to raise.

However, i feel like because of the community nature of the site, and especially during the fundraiser, that we should publicly show how much money is being raised.  Well at least like most things we do here, it's worth an experiment don't you think?

So i was thinking about one of those little thermometer fundraising things at the top of the DC pages for December showing how much money has been raised so far during the fundraiser.

Which brings us to the much harder question of: Should we have a goal amount to raise (i think so, just for fun if nothing else), and what should that amount be?

We don't want it to be too low as that is sad.  We don't want it to be too high because then if we don't reach it, it looks even sadder.

Last year we raised $6000 i think.  One idea would be to put like 2 markers on the thermometer towards the goal:
The first at $6,000 mark to reach last years amount, the second at our optimistic goal ($12,000).

What do you guys/gals think about that?



Issue #3: Do you have any ideas of things we could do for the December fundraiser that would help?

I'd love to hear ideas of things we could do -- especially if they are ideas that you would be willing to help out doing.



Whether you are a long term member of the site or a new visitor, I really look forward to hearing your ideas.
(you can also email me at mouser@donationcoder.com if you don't want to post publicly).
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 01:37:53 PM by mouser »

p3lb0x

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2007, 02:35:39 PM »
What about first showing the amount after the fund raiser?

edited because of my "FAIL" grammar
Stop mousering people so much - Mouser
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 02:38:42 PM by p3lb0x »

tomos

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2007, 03:01:55 PM »
However, i feel like because of the community nature of the site, and especially during the fundraiser, that we should publicly show how much money is being raised.  Well at least like most things we do here, it's worth an experiment don't you think?

So i was thinking about one of those little thermometer fundraising things at the top of the DC pages for December showing how much money has been raised so far during the fundraiser.

you could always show it on a members-only-page - half-public :-\
not sure if good idea, just an idea
Tom

cranioscopical

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2007, 03:54:11 PM »
So i was thinking about one of those little thermometer fundraising things
To show or not to show is a tough one.  The risk, as you've already pointed out, is that it can be counter-productive.

From http://en.wikipedia....ited_States, in 2006, the median annual household income according to the US Census Bureau was determined to be $48,201.  That being so, we're probably still talking today of $6,000 as being greater than 10% of median U.S. household income.

For the sake of argument, let's stick with the $6,000 as an example.  It's very easy for an individual to look at that sum and assess it in terms of the familiar, which is personal income.  Do you run the risk of people saying, "Gee that's more than 10% of what I earn!"

If you want to show progress (hopefully as a motivator) could the target be shown in some other way that puts it in context?  Would it work better to use something like a scale that shows progress from zero to 100% of DC running costs (or whatever determines the target) -- without specifying an amount?

mouser

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2007, 04:02:49 PM »
maybe we could make a chart showing what we could do with the money / how we would use it..

every time i hear about some silly company getting $5,000,000 in funding i think wow what we could do with that kind of money in terms of funding projects and developers..

Darwin

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2007, 04:10:40 PM »
I think that a fundraiser is necessary and I think that your desire to be as transparent as possible is noble, but I, too, get squirmy at the thought of you posting targets and the amount raised. Personally, I'd LOVE to see you raise $100,000 and would not begrudge the site a penny of it. However, you highlighted my fear exactly: many people will look at a figure like $8,698.27 and think to themselves "the drive is doing well, they don't need my $5". I think you would also find that doing this might change the dynamic of the site - sort of commoditize it (is commoditize a word? Anyone? Wordzilla?) and thus increase demands on your time and the community's resources ("I paid my $5 and I want x,y, and z. I'm the customer, dammit, and I'm always right!"). This is happening to our school district. The current provincial government slashed spending on education so drastically from 2001 to 2005 that every school district in BC began, and continue to, actively pursue international students to come and study in our schools. Guess what? Now we have 100's of parents that are paying big money to have their kids in our classrooms and many of them feel that they should get preferential treatment and that they should have a major say in the curriculum, who teaches their kids, what schools their kids go to, whether or not their kids should be in ESL, whether or not the school district has the right to send problem students home, etc., etc. Who's to say that they're wrong (or right)? I digress. The point is that you might find yourself swamped with demands that I am unable to anticipate but which I am sure will be time consuming to deal with.

Now... ideas. Crumb, I'm no good at this. My present financial situation attests to the fact that I am very good at spending money but hopeless at figuring out how to get my mitts on significant amounts of it. That said, I don't think that you should feel pressured to "justify" doing this. The community is all the justification necessary, as far as I am concerned. Perhaps this should be the focal point: donate to support the forums and the contests. Maybe you and Josh can come up with some pick  :-[ big ticket giveaways for December to encourage people to donate to become eligible (I'd limit it to big ticket software and avoid hardware, though). For people who have already donated, convincing them to make another contribution shouldn't be a hardsell - we've already given and know what we're getting for our money. I'll put up more money to make sure that it continues. If every member donated $1 you'd be close to my $100,000 target. That's my challenge to every donationcoder member: make a donation, however small, in next month's fundraiser, whether you've already donated or not! With luck this will average out to a significant sum.

Edit: see strikethrough. Doh!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 04:25:28 PM by Darwin »

Ralf Maximus

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2007, 04:13:46 PM »
Quote
From http://en.wikipedia....w...he_United_States, in 2006, the median annual household income according to the US Census Bureau was determined to be $48,201.  That being so, we're probably still talking today of $6,000 as being greater than 10% of median U.S. household income.

True enough, but I don't think anyone's looking at that number as their personal share of the total.  Spread out over 1000 contributors that's only six bucks.  But your point is well taken -- there's a definite psychology to dollar signs and income.  Otherwise, stuff wouldn't cost 99 cents; it's be $1.

Something I've found useful when confronted with a difficult problem: reduce it (as much as possible) to pros and cons.  If the pros outweigh the cons dramatically, the decision becomes obvious.  If not, it can still be a valuable exercise.  So to begin:

PRO/FOR THE THERMOMETER:

- Precedence.  Many sites operate fund-raisers and display a themometer.  Many also declare what the requested income will be spent on (new servers, bandwidth, etc.).  Knowing that the goal is "only" $6000 may quash fears that you're spending the loot on solid gold Cody statues or something.

- Transparency.  Showing the income might spur things on if donations lag behind expectations.  Also, it turns it into a bit of a good natured game.

- Weenie.  To borrow a phrase from the Disney playbook, the "weenie" is the focal point of any venture.  Having an icon you can point at and rally around can be good for the cause.

CON/AGAINST EVIL THERMOMETER THINGIE:

- Nagative Perception.  Risk that DC is perceived as "all about the money" rather than fun discussion about software & technology.

- Begathon.  Some people just hate the National Public Radio beg-a-thon mentality, and will rebel because this will push their buttons the wrong way.

- Risk of Complacency.  Folks may look at a 75% full thermometer and say to themselves, "shucks, these guys are doing fine.  I'll spend my $10 on beer instead."

These are just a few category starters I knocked out; any others? 

Darwin

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2007, 04:35:40 PM »
Quote
Nagative

Good word - conjures up nagging and negative in one concise statement  :Thmbsup: ;D :-* :P

You and Chris (who posted while I pecked away at my keyboard) both made more clearly a point that I was trying to make: if you post the amount raised, even if you do so after the fact, you run the risk of people saying: "Crap! $12,000! These guys are flush with cash and I helped them get there. I have needs! I have rights! Bend to my wll!". Yeah, OK, a bit of a reach but it IS Sunday afternoon where I am and when I was kid that meant reruns of sci-fi movies from the 1920's and 30's... Buck Rogers, Metropolis, good times, good times...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Josh

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2007, 04:43:25 PM »
Personally, I think all funds should go to bribing mouser into completing his degree in school. I know how he likes to procrastinate on it :)

app103

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2007, 06:51:29 PM »
maybe we could make a chart showing what we could do with the money / how we would use it..

every time i hear about some silly company getting $5,000,000 in funding i think wow what we could do with that kind of money in terms of funding projects and developers..

Why not break it all down into it's smallest parts, and present it in a way that allows people to check off a bunch of boxes and donate a specific amount based on the cost of things around here, with the understanding that the money will be pooled to cover the cost of everything and not necessarily the exact item they check off?

Like how much does the bandwidth for the site cost for a day? How much for the server for a day? Let them donate an amount that would cover that. Make a nice checklist where we can check off 1 or more items, a box to enter a number of units for that particular item, and hit a submit button and donate an amount based on that.

Include some of the things you wish you could do and what it would cost to do that, breaking it down into as small of a single unit as possible.

If you want to show how much you have collected towards the goal, you could list the number of units still needed to reach the goal of that item. The items in which the goal hasn't been reached would be a bit more noticeable, encouraging people to maybe donate a bit more to cover those rather than to cover the easier ones. (But of course you can still collect to cover above & beyond the goal of any particular item.)

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2007, 10:44:39 PM »

I think Darwin has an excellent point about forums and contests.

Maybe having a membership drive to attract new members, with some reward/prize/whatever for randomly chosen people who donate again would work.

That puts the focus on not only on new members, but rewarding repeat donors.
I like the idea of rewarding both groups - new members and current members.
Just my .02 centavos...........
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 10:47:27 PM by laughinglizard »

zridling

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2007, 04:08:22 AM »
Another thing we might do is "seed" such a fundraiser by having many of our members post in a "blog/forum blizzard"; DIGG the heck out of everything for a week while continuing to share new content here.

For example:
— If you're sitting on a mini-review in your mind that you'd like to write, post it!
— When you see a great idea or some story catches your attention, link to it and let's discuss it here.
— Also, let's revisit some of the cool software provided by DonationCoder.com — hell, it's everywhere!

Then post a fundraiser and share the love.

urlwolf

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2007, 07:25:29 AM »
I like Zaine's idea!
We could also target sites like lifehacker... I'm sure they could feature some of the programs that randomly pop up in the forums.

Ralf Maximus

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2007, 07:45:47 AM »
Also, let's revisit some of the cool software provided by DonationCoder.com — hell, it's everywhere!

But rather than just revisit it, request "success stories" from folks who use DC software, and how it's made their lives more productive and/or complete.  Nothing makes me feel fuzzier or warmier than reading a list of testamonials from satisfied users.

Like this one.

Obviously, these should not come from the core DC community -- that's too much like plugging your own stuff.  So, an open invitation to de-lurk and talk, maybe?  Or perhaps a special no-login-required "send us your success story" page that doesn't require membership?

tomos

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2007, 09:30:28 AM »
Why not break it all down into it's smallest parts, and present it in a way that allows people to check off a bunch of boxes and donate a specific amount based on the cost of things around here, with the understanding that the money will be pooled to cover the cost of everything and not necessarily the exact item they check off?

Like how much does the bandwidth for the site cost for a day? How much for the server for a day? Let them donate an amount that would cover that. Make a nice checklist where we can check off 1 or more items, a box to enter a number of units for that particular item, and hit a submit button and donate an amount based on that.

Include some of the things you wish you could do and what it would cost to do that...

I like app's ideas there:

  • Your donation will pay for 20% of an average coding snack
  • Your donation ... for ...
  • etc


Nothing makes me feel fuzzier or warmier than reading a list of testamonials from satisfied users.

Like this one.
that does sound very impressive..
the Duchess of Argyll one of our happy software users :)
Tom

mouser

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2007, 11:16:31 AM »
I think it would help motivate people to see what their donation specifically pays for..
The only problem with that is that DC is in a very strange situation with regard to that.

Like in your example "Your donation will pay for 20% of an average coding snack" -- but there is no way to say something like that, or equate an amount with a review.

Consider that we probably have about $4,000 in yearly expenses for our servers.
If we didn't raise that amount each year (which we easily do), we would move to smaller servers.  If we raise more we can move to bigger servers.

There are no "salaries" here.. The more donations that come into DC, the more goes out to the people contributing to it.

If all donations stopped over night, what would change?  I'd still be here writing software -- I just wouldn't have nearly as much time to do so because I'd have to spend more of my time working on real paid work.  For me personally, more donations to the site means more time I can improve the site and add new software, etc.

The ideal situation is if we can raise enough donations coming into the site and then back out (via donationcredits) to people contributing to the site (as coders, forum posters, reviewers, etc.) that more and more people can afford to spend time improving the site and creating new software etc.

It's weird because it would be simpler if we could say: Ok we need to raise X dollars to pay for the salaries of the employees.  But no one here is working on salaries.  We are all working in our spare time, and the donations are just a way to help offset some of that time and fund extra optional activities we could do if we raised enough.

But maybe there is still a way to come up with some specifics that are more immediate and tangible to people.

The thing is, we want people to donate and then *decide for themselves* where their donation goes, using donationcredits.  Every donation will be in the control of the person donating to give out as they see fit, so i'm not sure we can tell them where their donation is going until they decide..

Hm.. maybe that's an idea.. we could set up a couple of "special funds" like for reviews, new software, new web services, etc, and let donors choose where to put their money.. and then pledge to devote that donation money to improving those areas of the site.  This would only be useful for people who don't want to have to specifically follow the site day by day and donate to individual people.  It would be more like pre-funding a specific area and then relying on the site administrators to parcel out that donation to members contributing to that area, or spending the money on that area, etc.

tomos

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2007, 11:34:27 AM »
Yeah, I'd forgotten we still have a choice where our donations go -
havent been giving out any credits in a while :-[

I like this one mouser
Hm.. maybe that's an idea.. we could set up a couple of "special funds" like for reviews, new software, new web services, etc, and let donors choose where to put their money.. and then pledge to devote that donation money to improving those areas of the site.  This would only be useful for people who don't want to have to specifically follow the site day by day and donate to individual people.  It would be more like pre-funding a specific area and then relying on the site administrators to parcel out that donation to members contributing to that area, or spending the money on that area, etc.
Tom

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2007, 04:40:46 PM »
Personally, I was thinking the thermometer idea would work well, but don't put values on it.  Rather, just set a "secret" goal and maybe a generic line at the last amount, then make it fill by percentage of goal.  No one NEEDS to know exactly where the value is, but knowing where it is in relation to the goal will give them an idea of how much is "too much" vs. "not enough" in comparison to the organization's goals.

I also liked App's idea, which can likewise be without actual figures.  You can even give people a way to divide their donation by percentage to the various areas so the donor still gets to choose where their donations go. You can provide a pie chart to show how donations are being divided so people who care can choose to weigh their donations one way or the other based on how donations have been divided to date.

These various systems allow people to see how much has been collected as a percentage of the goal and see how it has been divided without providing specific numbers.  Just my thoughts...

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2007, 05:18:51 PM »
I would to raise a concern of mine, that is that it's December, folks. I presume people will be broken, with Christmas and everything. Then again, if you decide to wait, you'd have to delay it until February, as January is a bad month for spending money as well.

Darwin mentioned the number of members. It will be a good idea to promote even the smallest donation. If 10% of the members donate 1$, you'll get nothing less than 9,500$, which is a huge sum for planning big things for 2008.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2007, 04:27:01 AM by Lashiec »

tomos

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2007, 04:04:39 AM »
how much of a donation is worthwhile using paypal ?
I mean how much does paypal take?
is it a percentage or a fixed fee?

(If it's a dollar or near, the $1 per person idea is in trouble..)
Tom

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2007, 04:38:46 AM »
Quote
Hm.. maybe that's an idea.. we could set up a couple of "special funds" like for reviews, new software, new web services, etc, and let donors choose where to put their money.


That's a nice idea, but I only see one problem with it: fragmentation.

The more additional special funds there are, the less likely you are to reach the goal for either one of them; the donations are spread across all of them, and not focused towards a single goal. It will take some figuring out as to how many (and which) special funds you could have to avoid this problem.


Ralf Maximus

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2007, 08:09:50 AM »
how much of a donation is worthwhile using paypal ?
I mean how much does paypal take?
is it a percentage or a fixed fee?

(If it's a dollar or near, the $1 per person idea is in trouble..)

Good questions; I too am curious.  It's possible the minimum practical donation might be $3 or $5.

Also, need some nuts-and-bolts clarification here...

When speaking of "donations" are you talking about a separate PayPal screen for donating to the cause, or can we transfer Credits over too?  I was planning on dumping the contents of my DonationCredits account into the kitty, if that's allowed.

housetier

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2007, 08:13:24 AM »
I like this idea of a checklist very much. Maybe we could have less specific targets and more generic ones:
  • more gadgets
  • more bandwidth
  • merchandise
  • faster bugfixes
  • more servers
  • new-member welcome fund
  • DC veteran support fund
  • sushi for all
  • ...

People could then indicate where they would like their donation spent on. It gives them a little control, and we don't have to promise too much or reveal too many details. Of course we would need to be very transparent about this; they trust us with their money...

Ralf Maximus

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2007, 08:15:11 AM »
DC veteran support fund

I missed this one.  So anyone who participated in the Mac/PC flame wars gets a stipend?

housetier

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Re: DonationCoder.com Yearly Fundraiser for 2007 - Advice Requested Please
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2007, 08:20:44 AM »
DC veteran support fund

I missed this one.  So anyone who participated in the Mac/PC flame wars gets a stipend?

They get a warm Cody blanky and a wrist rest for their tired coding hands  ;D :D :P :mrgreen: :lol: