You don't know until you try.
True. But why bother? Show me any other place that holds a fundraiser; hits it's target halfway through; allows it to continue running through the allotted period anyway (with the encouragement and blessing of the members no less!) and ends with about double the target goal in the bank?
Know of any site running ads that can claim the same?
The problem with ads is that it doesn't work out well if you're also doing direct appeals for contributions. As PBS discovered. Most people seem to be ok with fundraisers as long as they're conducted in a reasonable manner. Or with advertising since nobody with an IQ over 60 thinks you can run something like a website with no infusions of capital.
What many people do have a problem with, however, is fundraising plus
At least from my experience.
My real problem with accepting ads is that there's always some loss of control. It could be something as simple as you not being able to say where somebody's ad will appear on your webpage. Or what it looks like. But it can also easily become much more intrusive, depending on the advertiser's requirements.
A fundraiser, on the other hand, deals only with the members and their expectations. If they're happy (and they usually are if they're contributing at all) you're pretty much free to continue operating your site as you best know how. Because the only people who you have to satisfy are the "customers" who are actually interested in your content
When you have advertisers as your customers (and that's how they view themselves) they're not interested in you for what you're doing. They're interested in getting themselves in front of your content customers
. Eyeballs are everything. What you offer on your site (software, a good chatroom, funny pictures, porn) is completely secondary to them - except insofar as it attracts their target demographic
"Paid for by advertising" is what destroyed broadcast television's potential for greatness.*
And it will also do the same to the web. If it hasn't already.
Just my 2Â˘
*Note: take a look at some of the writing about television when it first came out. The exuberance and hopes that were expressed for the "new medium," and the words used, have a haunting similarity to much of what was being said about the world wide web when it first came out.
Even more interesting, much of the disgust and criticism being directed at today's web sounds identical to what's been directed at television for the last decade or two.
Small surprise. When the public walked away from broadcast TV, the people responsible for wrecking it found new things to ruin on cable, satellite, and the internet.