WordPress Donations: Is There Shame in Asking?

In light of yesterday’s post and some of the discussion in both comments and offering support for various WordPress projects, I’m curious as to what you guys consider to be etiquette when it comes to asking for WordPress donations.

As I mentioned yesterday, I personally think that we have a personal obligation to provide a level of support for free software that we released; however, at one point is it socially acceptable to ask for a donation.

On top of that, where do you even draw the line?

WordPress Donations: Easy To Hook Them Up

A quick Google search yields that there are quite a few plugins that make it easy for users to hook up donations to their site:

WordPress Donations

And I even have a page to which I link from my WordPress Plugin Repository pages, but I don’t promote it unless someone specifically asks me if I accept donations.

There’s obviously a desire for developers and designers to ask for donations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that users feel an obligation to give.

WordPress Donations: An Issue of Etiquette

This isn’t a loaded question – I’m curious abut the overall concensues as to where you guys fall regarding soliciting donations for your work.

  • Do you add a widget to your sidebar?
  • Do you write a monthly post about?
  • Do you simply link to a page on your site?

To be completely open about it, I don’t ask for donations. If the user asks if they accept them, I simply say yet, link them to my page, and say thanks, but should we be more aggressive? Less aggressive?

What’s the balance in what’s acceptable and what’s rude?

WordPress Donations
How Rude.

Whatever the case, I’m interested in your honest thoughts on it. This isn’t so much a metter of arguing a point as it is to learn what my peers are doing.

So have it – what’s your stance?

13 Replies to “WordPress Donations: Is There Shame in Asking?”

  1. I only have small plugins, but the gist is I don’t ask for or accept donations at all. The plugins I have don’t play a pivotal role in my “WP career”, I created them for fun. As such, I may all of a sudden be on a huge client project and simply don’t have the time to provide a level of basic support that would warrant a an active donation infrastructure. Even though donations don’t imply support, some people expect a $5 contribution to equate to lifetime support (and that’s before paypal fees) and that sort of drama can’t pollute your inbox, cough workspace.

    1. Like you, I’ve really only a handful of plugins all of which are on the small side – they aren’t anything extremely elaborate, either. The premium ones I did have, I retired in order to focus my efforts on other projects.

      And similarly, the plugins certainly play a direct, pivotal part in my career – beyond trying to provide a good product to people, they serve as live examples of work that I’ve used when being contacted for contract projects.

      All good points, Noel. thanks for the comment.

  2. I donate to free plugins if I use them often or find them useful. I donate out of respect to the author because it took them time to develop and keep updated.

    I also think free plugins are a great way to show a preview of premium products. For instance, I purchased the pro/paid version of SeedProd products after testing their free version. However, if there wasn’t a pro/paid version then I would have donated to the author.

    I can’t wait to see what others have to say about free vs paid plugins plus if others donate or if I am the only one.

    1. I donate to free plugins if I use them often or find them useful. I donate out of respect to the author because it took them time to develop and keep updated.

      I’m with you – in fact, I’ve no problem paying for a larger plugin because I know that it’ll likely come with updates and a more official support forum (not to mention, it’ll likely contribute to the developer(s)’ bottom line).

      I also think free plugins are a great way to show a preview of premium products.

      Yep – freemium arguably the most common form that I seen. I think conversions are largely based on a variety of factors. When I was managing WP Social Icons – the premium version of Tipsy Social Icons – I probably converted only 4% – 6% of users.

      Not bad, but nothing spectacular, either.

  3. I do it the same way you do Tom; I accept donations but do not advertise it and only link to it if asked if I accept them.

    As Ben said, I will also hunt down author’s donate links after using a quality free plugin.

      1. I’m with you guys. I love paying for stuff that I use and don’t mind spending time finding how to best pay for the premium version, but I’ve yet to see that donationware or simpler plugins are the way to even begin making a living.

  4. funny this came today, as I got a random donation for a plugin.

    I’ve got a “template” for all my plugins that have a settings page. on that, a sidebar includes links for support, GitHub, etc along with a donate button. nothing huge, no front end links, etc. and its got a few bucks here and there.

    1. This is something I’ve seen on a handful of plugins. Based on what you’ve said, my guess is that even though it’s right in their face, it doesn’t necessarily convert.

      I’m always thankful, but yeah – it’s a few bucks here and there. Nothing that’d be worth writing home about ;).

  5. Though I’ve been making plugins for years, I only have a handful in the Extend repo. And while I did include a link to a donation page on my site (in the normal plugin metadata), I don’t actively solicit. Truthfully, I am a little disappointed that with over 100K total plugin downloads, I could probably count the number of donations I’ve received on one hand. I have thought about including a donation shout-out on the settings page (of the plugins that have one), just to see what would happen.

    That said, I didn’t write the plugins for money. i wrote them to solve my own problems, answer my own questions, or for my own amusement, and I put them out in the wild because I believe it’s a great way to contribute back to the collective WordPress consciousness.

    Is there shame in asking for donations? Heck no! The very nature of a donation is (should be) that it’s voluntary. The giver wants to show appreciation. And they probably don’t realize just how lifting is for a developer to receive one. Heck, even just a “I like your plugin, thanks!” email, without a donation is appreciated!

    This reminds me — it’s time for me to go through the plugins I use and make some donations…

  6. Hi,

    i created a plugin that provides a widget with a donation button (it’s targeted toward freelancers). You can choose to display a “Buy me a beer” or a “Buy me coffee”. I don’t think it’s too much, i mean, it’s not creating a whole page or something too visible, it’s only a widget. You can choose the default donation amount, or you can let the visitor set its own amount.

    On top of the widget, on my website, i wrote “If you like my work…” then the message is displayed. I’m not forcing anyone to send me money. I’m not writing post on my blog about that, and it’s at the bottom of my sidebar.

    Of course it’s bigger than a simple button in the main menu as Tom or Pippin are using, but i think it’s a fun two to say “if you want to donate, you can”.

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