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.
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. :)
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.
Those thank-you notes matter, even if fundamentally the reason for giving is completely based on the actual work.
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'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.
I'll just remove the link, thanks for letting me know.