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A Successful Open Source Fundraising Campaign?

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Chris Aniszcyk has written how we have been doing more to solicit financial donations from the community.   In particular, we’ve added the Donate Now buttons to our download pages; which happen to be our high traffic pages.  Chris raises a good question on how far we should go with our ‘pan handling’ and I encourage everyone to provide feedback.

However, I am also interested in what is considered to be a successful open source fundraising campaign?  How much money should we be able to raise; from how many people?  Wikipedia’s multi-million annual campaign is at the extreme end.  I also noticed the GNOME community raised $25,000 this past year, up from $6400 the previous year.  Therefore, I thought it might be useful to share our results  since mid-July.

  • Over a period of July 17 – Nov. 30 we have raised US$9916 from 601 individuals.
  • We typically get on average 3 donations per day and the average donation is $21-$24.
  • The donations are pre-predominately from Europeans and North Americans

What are we doing to accomplish these results?

  • We have a Friends of Eclipse program that people can join for $35.  ‘Friends’ get direct access to the Foundation download servers which in practice gives them 24hr jump on a new release.  The Friends program is an annual commitment, so we actively ask for renewals.
  • In July, we added the Donate Now buttons to the download pages.   As Chris describes they are also being added in other places on the site.  The first iteration of the Donate Now buttons were $2, $10, $20.  After 4 weeks, we changed the $2 to $5.  After the change, the average donation went from $8 to the current $21-$24,  number of donors dropped considerably but the overall revenue raised only increase slightly
  • The closest thing we have done to a ‘marketing campaign’ for donations was before the Galileo release encouraging people to become Friends to get early access.   Overall though we are pretty modest on promoting the fundraising; so far no banner ads or pop-ups.  :-)

Some questions I have:

  • We quote in US$.  Does it make a difference to allow the donor to quote in their local currency?
  • Wikipedia seems to do an annual campaign.  Are campaigns that last for 1-2 months the key for getting more donors or do you have a constant appeal for donors.
  • How important are the benefits of the ‘Friends’ program.  For instance, if we added a t-shirt but raised the price to $50 would we net more money?  What other benefits have organizations offered.
  • Are there ‘magic’ words to use in the appeal that will attract more donors?

There you have it?  I am interested in knowing what other groups have experienced or done.  What are the best practices for open source fundraising.  I certainly don’t claim we are a great model but I am hoping that by sharing our experiences we can get better.

Oh btw, Eclipse is a great community, lots of dedicated, hard working individuals, producing awesome, fantastic open source software.  I’d like to thank everyone that has already donated to make Eclipse an even better place.  It would be great to have even more people donating money back to the community.  Please DONATE NOW.

From http://ianskerrett.wordpress.com

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