Individual donations board meeting minutes (Sep 9)

Haskell Foundation Board Meeting

9 September 2021

Attendees

  1. Niki Vazou
  2. Richard Eisenberg
  3. Scott Conley
  4. Emily Pillmore
  5. Simon Peyton Jones
  6. Ryan Trinkle
  7. Andrew Boardman
  8. Tom Ellis
  9. Théophile Choutri

Absent

  1. Michael Snoyman
  2. José Pedro Magalhães
  3. Andrew Lelechenko
  4. Alexander Bernauer
  5. Edward Kmett
  6. Wendy Devolder
  7. Chris Dornan

NB: This meeting was flagged as an optional brainstorming session around individual donations; board members were invited to skip if they did not wish to discuss these details.

Brainstorming discussion around individual donations

As of a week ago, only 13 individual donors. They were a little demoralized.

Individual donor incentives:

  • we don’t want to be controlled by corporate overlords
  • wanting to “give back” to the community

What would individual donors get? Can we offer something?

  • Even a social event?
  • A card?
  • Partner with online forums to add “flair”/badge to donors.
  • But maybe _not _linked to “power” (e.g. voting rights).

Scale: let’s have a specific level of ambition. E.g.

  • 200 donors
  • $10/month
  • gives $24k/yr, which starts to be significant.

An important goal: this is _our _Foundation. Making regular donations can be a form of “belonging”. We want to prioritise this in all our messaging around this… seen only as a fundraising effort, it might not be that cost-effective.

An idea (from Chris Smith): the Haskell Foundation Community Fund

  • As a way to motivate individual donors: ring-fence individual donations to go back to the community, not to HF infrastructure or staff.
  • Earmarks can get complicated; we would not, for example, want to allow someone to earmark their donation for a particular project
  • Lightweight process, relatively low bar, relatively small sums of money.
  • Theophile already wanted a Documentation Fund … more flexible than Haskell Summer of Code $$.
  • Require a final report of some kind – e.g. blog post, video. No report, no next grant!
  • We have a web page showing what projects we have funded, which are ongoing, which are done; and the final report
  • Treat the grant as an “honorarium”. It’s not paying you to do the work (not consulting fee, not stipend), it’s publicly honouring you for the efforts you have made.
  • Can you get a grant for work you have done already? Hmm.
  • Risks:
    • What if you apply and are rejected? Might that make you feel annoyed?

Finding ways to recognise and praise big contributors

  • Recognise Haskell contributor of the year? Or month? Or do 5/year in an annual process. (5/year is better)
  • With a golden lambda plaque like the one that was given during Haskell eXchange? Java Champions & Erlang User of the Year exist elsewhere.

Process

  • Invite Matthias Toepp (@human154) and Chris Smith (@cdsmith) to lead a working group to take these ideas forward
  • Specifically to develop a concrete proposal to bring back to the board.
  • Need one or two board members to participate, as members not as chair. (Andrew, plus Scott and SPJ indicated general willingness.)

Come back to this, as a board, end Oct. Andrew has the token until then.

6 Likes

Sorry to hear that the team is demoralised regarding individual donations.

I want to set up a recurring donation, but I went to the site and only Paypal is supported for recurring at this time.

If we could have some alternative to Paypal for recurring donations, it would be fantastic and I would sign up in a heartbeat :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for posting the minutes!

EDIT: Guess I should add that making a one-off donation is pretty easy and immediate.

1 Like

Sorry to hear that the team is demoralised regarding individual donations.

To be clear, here, the demoralized people mentioned in the minutes were the original individual donors, lacking company. My hope is that the surge of interest around this topic has remoralized them! :slight_smile:

I want to set up a recurring donation, but I went to the site and only Paypal is supported for recurring at this time.

I have also set up a recurring donation, and I too was dismayed that I needed Paypal to do so. I started to write a ticket requesting that we don’t do this… but then I stopped. In order to support a recurring donation, there has to be some way to update the donation amount (to cancel it, for example). So, we either have to write a whole mechanism ourselves, tracking users and safeguarding their information, or outsource. The HF has outsourced to Paypal. Maybe there is a different service that would be better in some regard, but I don’t know of one (I have done no research into this at all). And, so, even though I didn’t really like interacting with Paypal over this donation, I couldn’t really suggest a better idea, and so I just went ahead.

Do you know of a different approach?

2 Likes

Liberapay is a popular option in some corners of the free software world. Snowdrift has a novel funding model (and is apparently implemented in Haskell!) though it looks like they’re in somewhat early days; it could be worthwhile to contact them, in any case (it looks like they’ve made progress that isn’t explicitly called out in their roadmap, yet).

1 Like

I have no opinion about mechanism EXCEPT that whatever it is should work for people like me, outside the USA.

Simon

1 Like

I will say that payment processing is hard and complicated and requires lots of business relationships with banks. Paypal is unfortunate, but there’s a reason its got a very strong position as a standard solution. Some possible alternatives would be iats (https://home.iatspayments.com/) or heartland (https://www.heartland.us/). Perhaps Ryan Trinkle would want to investigate them? The former in particular looks promising… (I do worry that these sorts of services are more heavyweight and perhaps suited better to significantly larger organizations).

(edit: note that liberapay actually handles payments through stripe and paypal itself, so its really not much different – it just provides funding infrastructure around the standard payment processors).

1 Like

A big advantage of stripe based payment is that you can receive SEPA transfers, so donors from many countries in Europe can donate directly from their bank accounts without making any other accounts anywhere. I don’t know which other processors support SEPA transfers.

Another thought from a UK perspective: we have a scheme called Gift Aid which treats charitable donations as tax deductible (with refunded tax going to the charity, and possibly partly to the donor if they are a higher rate taxpayer). I’ve no idea how feasible it would be for the HF to collect Gift Aid on UK donations (I guess it might require some arrangement with a UK or EU charitable entity), but if possible it can make donations worth 20% more to the charity and more attractive to donors as well.

1 Like