Episode 2 of monetizing online communities looks at donations – an overlooked revenue stream and the social media tools that enable donations online.

Currency has no inherent value itself – only what we, the community, say it’s worth. Sometimes $2 coins are annoying – we throw them in a jar or give them to a busker rather than have them rattling around in our pocket. Other times, we will give a stranger a $5 note because we desperately need $2 for the car parking meter, and don’t have any change. So currency can change in it’s value contextually depending on what is being transferred. Donations play very much into the socailized aspect of money transfer. What do we value, how do we show we value it, how do we feel and what good will it do?  This does NOT have to be Not For Profits – social networks that have a “community” feel, can also connect with the goodwill of the members and seek donations as a revenue stream. Note: you can subscribe to video on iTunes Laurel Papworth - Social Media Business - Social Media Business but I’m waiting for them to offer the audio RSS version too!

Donations as Revenue: Social Media Business Ep.002 from Laurel Papworth on Vimeo.

Caring But Not Committed

Online social media services provide scope for members to donate time, resources and money how and when they want. There is not the traditional requirement to “see things through” or “commit to a regular volunteer service”. Caring but not committed is typical of the internet communities – shareware, freeware, postcardware, donateware. If you are interested in a large scale, scaleable community that where one member may drop a development of opensource projects and another member will pick it, have a look at sourceforge.

I also mentioned The Burrito Project on my “Social NETWORKS are much more than Social MEDIA” here is the wikipedia page.
Wordpress blogging platform has people donating plugins or using money donations to have work done.

Here is a typical widget from WordPress 3rd party developers which allows bloggers to ask for donations on their blog, and uses PayPal as the backend for donations across the online community.

Drupal, Joomla, and LAMP – Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python are also mentioned as examples of donation social economies.  While they also encourage a whole ecosystem of monetized services such as value-adds, training, customization… donation continues to play a role particularly as Paypal and other services offer easy to implement widgets for collection of the monies.

Crowdfunding of films through Fundable.com and other projects. There are many many sites like Fundable (e.g. Pledgie).  They have a clip-of-the-sale revenue model themselves. Or in this case, a clip of the donation:


Completed group actions (and only completed group actions) have a 10% fee taken from their totals.

Remember, there is no cost to set up a group action and everyone receives a complete refund if a group action expires.

ChipIn donation widget – and my microfinance through social media blog post supporting wonderwebby


Ripple Effect diagram showing that social media works opposite to traditional media. With traditional media

ripple timeline

Paypal widgets are quickly embedded in social network sites and make transactions such as donations across the online community relatively easy.


PayPal Donations
Collect donations from a button on your website, or even using a link in an email!

PayPal Donations is a low cost way for you to accept credit card and bank account donations. Integrate PayPal Donations with your website in a few easy steps

Save time and money collecting donations with PayPal:

  • Easy to implement – no CGI scripting necessary
  • No up-front costs – you’ll have the same low fee schedule used when you receive other PayPal payments
  • Collect with ease – PayPal maintains detailed transaction records on our website
  • Freedom for your donors – donors can choose the amount of their secure donation, or you can set a fixed amount

I mentioned tweet4good on the podcast – but please be aware that they are affiliated with NetworkForGood which focusses on fundraising for Not For Profits i.e. real world communities with needs, not online communities looking to monetize.  Still it’s a no-brainer that Fundable or similar will have or already have a Twitter addon service.

The Age of Stupid – you can delve into their crowdsource fundraising here on their site.

Pligg donation drives – I donated a few bucks to the PHPBB bulletin board (creating a forum plugin) drive they had. Kinda funny now, reading the thankyou posted on their site:

Everyone should thank forum users lpapworth for covering the majority of the ChipIn fund (started on another thread). His financial contribution is what allowed us to develop this module.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a girl. 😛 I was also attributed as a coauthor/supporter, which is a good way of rewarding donations, of course.

Finally I mentioned Whedonesque, the fansite for Joss Whedon, TV director. They have a paypal plugin though they also use merchandising, which I will cover in another episode.

Paypal plugin on right hand side

Paypal plugin on right hand side

Donations As Revenue: Social Media Business Podcast

Social Media Monetization Models

Social Media Monetization Models

The first part of the series on social media revenue is dedicated to showing case studies referring to the chart above.

Social Media Business

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the episode. This Social Media Business series is available on a variety of video hosting sites such as YouTubeSMB_podcast

Donation as Revenue – Social Media Business Ep 2

You can also subscribe/download Social Media Business from iTunes (launches iTunes) to your iPhone or iPod as a video.  Laurel Papworth - Social Media Business - Social Media Business

You can subscribe using the RSS feed for the Social Media Business video here or grab the Social Media Business audio version.

Previous Shows

Experiential Economy – Social Media Business Ep 1