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Donations make up a quarter of my income (method.ac)
77 points by duopixel 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments

> backers receive no benefits, rewards, or access to exclusive content. They don’t even get a thank you email.

I've sent donations (e.g. $25-$100 via papyal) to open source and technical folks and only once received a reply (thank you) back.

I suppose it shouldn't disappoint me, but it does and thus I'm much less likely to bother.

Interesting. We (sqlitebrowser.org) have Patreon donations (plug: patreon.com/db4s) and I'm careful to thank everyone who becomes a Patron. And to follow up with any thoughts/questions/etc Patrons have via that platform.

But I _very_ carefully don't put extra time into doing Patron-only stuff.

The core purpose of the Patreon for us, is to gather funds so we can improve things for the project. eg buy new equipment (HiDPI monitor purchased, ARM64 based Mac Mini coming up, etc).

So, putting time into making the project better is much better than putting time into doing "Patreon only" things. eg "private blog posts" etc.

From my personal point of view, if someone becomes a Patron to our open source project with the expectation they'll receive some huge extra level of effort... they're probably better off not becoming a Patron.

But if they're ok with just the acknowledgement/thanks and knowing they're helping out with an important aspect of things that no-one else is, then that's all good. :)

Does the author actually get your contact info from PayPal in way that they can respond?

Normally, if I send anything like $50-$100 to a creator via any of the "normal" mechanisms for this (Patreon, Venmo, Zelle), I get a very nice response.

yes, recipient sees your email address (of PayPal account)

It's one of the reasons why donation platforms are demonstrably more effective than just a form or button alone. Even though the emails are largely or entirely automated, people still like to get them for causes they like enough to donate to, whether thank yous or updates or whatever.

The "thank you" is in the thousands of unpaid hours they put in their projects.

One of the reasons I like donating to local charities is that I get a letter from somebody saying thank you. It is small, but it warms my heart. Even at $10,000 donations, I have never got anything from a national charity other than more requests for donations.

Those thank-you notes matter, even if fundamentally the reason for giving is completely based on the actual work.

I assume this is why the parent poster said "I suppose this shouldn't disappoint me". People shouldn't need a thank you email, but it's apparently valuable enough to at least one person to make a difference for them. How people actually behave and react to things is what you should design around, not how people should ideally behave. Given this (admittedly extrapolating from one data point), and because the cost of configuring a bot to send thank you emails is so low, I'd probably set it up if I were accepting donations.

>People shouldn't need a thank you email

I think it's entirely unsurprising that people would like a thank you email. If you donate to an open source project, you have gone out of your way to acknowledge the project's maintainer. The least they can do is acknowledge you back - it's basic reciprocity.

>the cost of configuring a bot to send thank you emails is so low

Honestly, I think a bot saying "thank you" is as soulless as no "thank you" at all. It doesn't take long to type up a manual response and genuinely express your gratefulness.

I occasionally donate small amounts to individuals active in open source and had the same experience as earlier poster.

I'd be perfectly happy to get a bot reply saying thanks. The main issue I had with silence is when I'm not sure if the money actually got to the maintainer.

I'm less worried about getting personalised 'thank you' as it is easy to see if the developer is still making active contributions.

There are a lot better (and more cost-effective) ways to pay people to make you feel good.

If you want someone to send you a nice email, you can hire someone to be your pen pal.

I suppose people who accept donations are under no obligation to send a thank you email, or anything if it is not specifically specified. However I can say with certainty if one is sent, and they go the extra mile, it is much more likely they will either get another donation, or a recommendation for someone else to donate.

For OP: the about page is 404'ing https://method.ac/about/

This reminds me of a dream from 2019: https://method.ac/writing/work_journal/08-01-2019_work_log_t...

I'll just remove the link, thanks for letting me know.

when I had post-adolescent support systems in place, long ago, the donation system made so much sense to me.. now, long after, its not a pretty picture w.r.t. cost of living

$0.25 sounds less than benevolent.

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