It seems to me that the Google(TM) ads are a function of what kind of audience the site attracts.
For example, my site is geared to attract teachers who are looking for free and Open Source support for their classrooms.
I place Google(TM) ads on the site, but down near the bottom of the page where they won't make the site look unprofessional. After about a year, the Google(TM) ads are making enough to about pay for the site's hosting fees.
Although I can't say how much the average click is worth, you can guess that it may take somewhere between 20 to 40 of them to add up to a piece of paper with George's picture on it. Although, once in a while, a much larger value surfaces. Of course, Google(TM) takes half.
The way that I position the ads, I hope that the links provide additional value for my visitors. But, since it takes a lot of visitors before one clicks on the Google(TM) ad, I can only hope that my site's content is so captivating that the visitors don't dare click and leave my site.
Why do the Google(TM) ads pay so little for my site?
Who is going to bid a lot for clicks from impoverished school teachers who are looking for free stuff?
You can also go to the Pay-per-Click sites and check what the bid is for the search terms. Most of the search terms for my site probably could be won for a bid of a nickle.
The people who claim to make money on Google(TM) AdSense look for terms with high bids, then make sites around those words. This seems like a shabby little scheme that professionals of most fields wouldn't want to be associated with.
This may suit people who want to sell diet pills and colon cleaners, but I believe that professionals want to avoid being associated with anything sleazy.
In the long run, I hope that Google(TM) figures out a way to filter out the fraud, and get back to the mission of identifying the most relevant information for people that use its search engine.
Right now, I suspect that Google(TM) thinks that those Pay-per-Click bidders are its customers. Wrong. Google's customers are people who are performing the searches. Sure, one group pays (and the other group is sometimes exploited), but the loyalty of both groups is one click away from jumping ship and hitching to a Google(TM) competitor if the searches fail to deliver.
For me, Google(TM) ads are like banner ads...I hardly see them on the Web page.
I have a GMail account, and though I know that there are ads on the page, I don't look at them. In a year or more, I have not clicked a single one. I don't have time to glance at a part of the page that has no value.
I understand the reluctance to place ads on the Donation Coder site. I think that removing the ads is a good move if the site is making enough to sustain itself because the site provides a real service.
If the site were in financial trouble, then the ads would be justified to keep the operation afloat.