79 votes

The donation goal for November has been (more than) reached! Let's talk a bit about how to handle "extra" donations

Tags: donations

As noticed yesterday, the donation goal meter in the sidebar made a huge jump upwards yesterday due to an extremely generous (and anonymous) donation of 0.3 BTC. Again, if that person is reading, thank you!

When I added the goal and Financials page about a week and a half ago, I explained that I thought it was probably too high to reach yet, but it was intended to show the progress we're making towards the point where the site is truly fully sustainable (and that progress is already great for the site's size).

But now thanks to that generous donation, we've already surpassed the first monthly goal, which honestly wasn't something I was expecting to happen for a while. Because of that, I want to talk a bit about how we can handle the "surplus" in cases like this.

My general feeling is that when it reaches the next month, any amount above the goal should probably "roll over" to the next month, starting us out at a higher point than the normal baseline from monthly recurring donations. For example, as of right now we're about $574.10 above this month's goal, so December will start out with that much in addition to the monthly contributions. This feels the most fair to me in terms of keeping the impact of larger donations and ones made after already reaching 100%, so that people don't feel like some of their donation is "wasted" or that they should wait until next month to donate so they can help with a goal.

There are definitely some edge cases with this that might get weird, but they mostly only come up with extremely large one-time donations or constantly surpassing the goal, and those are both problems I'd be happy to have.

I'm also probably going to tinker with the design of the goal bar a little over the next couple days to be able to show progress beyond 100%, since just having an unchanging full green bar there for the rest of the month would be boring.

Let me know if you have any thoughts about this overall—it's a pretty minor concern overall, but I thought it would be good to have a thread about it anyway, partially as a celebration of hitting the first official goal ever set so quickly.

As always, thank you very much to everyone that contributes to Tildes through donations as well as all the other ways (being active on the site, promoting it to others, helping with the open-source code/repo, etc.). It's hugely encouraging to me to have so many people helping support the site already.

26 comments

  1. [7]
    Bauke
    Link
    What about also adding a % alongside the progress bar? Something like November 2019 donation goal (125%).

    I'm also probably going to tinker with the design of the goal bar a little over the next couple days to be able to show progress beyond 100%, since just having an unchanging full green bar there for the rest of the month would be boring.

    What about also adding a % alongside the progress bar? Something like November 2019 donation goal (125%).

    28 votes
    1. Aestival
      Link Parent
      It would be nice if it was shown inside the bar, in my opinion

      It would be nice if it was shown inside the bar, in my opinion

      11 votes
    2. Wes
      Link Parent
      That seems useful and easy to implement. I like it.

      That seems useful and easy to implement. I like it.

      4 votes
    3. [4]
      MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      Or as a hover on the bar itself?

      Or as a hover on the bar itself?

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        Bauke
        Link Parent
        Then it's not really mobile-friendly and obvious. Hiding pertinent information behind a hover is kinda meh in most cases. You'd have to accidentally hover over it (or have someone tell you) to...

        Then it's not really mobile-friendly and obvious. Hiding pertinent information behind a hover is kinda meh in most cases. You'd have to accidentally hover over it (or have someone tell you) to find out that that exists.

        15 votes
        1. [2]
          MimicSquid
          Link Parent
          I think that there's limits to how much information you want to frontload. The particular percentage over 100% of support is useful to know, but is it important enough to add more visual clutter...

          I think that there's limits to how much information you want to frontload. The particular percentage over 100% of support is useful to know, but is it important enough to add more visual clutter to the front page?

          1 vote
          1. Bauke
            Link Parent
            I should clarify that my suggestion would be to add a percentage at all times, not just when it's over 100%. I think since the sidebar is a fixed width and the title still has enough width left to...

            I should clarify that my suggestion would be to add a percentage at all times, not just when it's over 100%.

            I think since the sidebar is a fixed width and the title still has enough width left to spare (and November is one of the longer months in terms of string length), it won't be that big of a deal. At most it will be 7 extra characters where 3 of them already have a small width in the sans-serif font.

            10 votes
  2. [3]
    EightRoundsRapid
    Link
    What about putting any excess to one side for a cushion/contingency fund instead of rolling it into the following month? Might help with any unforeseen situations down the line.

    What about putting any excess to one side for a cushion/contingency fund instead of rolling it into the following month? Might help with any unforeseen situations down the line.

    25 votes
    1. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Yes. Rolling into a contingency fund is definitely the best move. It could fill up to provide some defined cushion or be tapped to address emergencies. Also, a long term capital fund to help...

      What about putting any excess to one side for a cushion/contingency fund instead of rolling it into the following month? Might help with any unforeseen situations down the line.

      Yes. Rolling into a contingency fund is definitely the best move. It could fill up to provide some defined cushion or be tapped to address emergencies.

      Also, a long term capital fund to help support large future investments you might want to make. Not sure what those would be, but scaling up can get expensive once your needs get more and more bespoke.

      2 votes
  3. aphoenix
    Link
    Congrats on the huge donation! Rolling over surplus into the next month is the most reasonable way to approach this, in my opinion. It feels natural, discoverable, and correct. Adding a way to see...

    Congrats on the huge donation!

    Rolling over surplus into the next month is the most reasonable way to approach this, in my opinion. It feels natural, discoverable, and correct.

    Adding a way to see how much is going to be added to the next month might be worthwhile, because it almost feels like a disincentive for more people to donate at this time. Maybe a colour code for recurring donations vs. one-time donations in the bar?

    20 votes
  4. [3]
    Keegan
    Link
    How is Bitcoin and other cryptos being handled as currency? The value changes often, and that could lead to a donation being worthless if the coin dropped significantly in value.

    How is Bitcoin and other cryptos being handled as currency? The value changes often, and that could lead to a donation being worthless if the coin dropped significantly in value.

    20 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This is the first large cryptocurrency donation, so this is the first time I've really needed to worry about it. I intend to withdraw it (or at least convert it) soon, because I don't think it's a...

      This is the first large cryptocurrency donation, so this is the first time I've really needed to worry about it. I intend to withdraw it (or at least convert it) soon, because I don't think it's a good idea to keep a significant amount of money in something that's effectively a volatile speculative investment.

      That's one of the exciting parts of cryptocurrency for a lot of people, but "exciting" usually isn't a word you want to apply to company financials.

      42 votes
      1. Keegan
        Link Parent
        Yeah that seems like the best idea.

        Yeah that seems like the best idea.

        9 votes
  5. [5]
    Silbern
    Link
    My only worry about rolling over donations is that it implies the site might be more financially stable than it actually is. After the one time donation dries up for example, we might suddenly...

    My only worry about rolling over donations is that it implies the site might be more financially stable than it actually is. After the one time donation dries up for example, we might suddenly start to significantly fall short of the goal since everyone assumed it would be a consistent donation. It seems like the bar is meant as an indicator to show when you can pursue Tildes.net full time, correct? In that case, wouldn't it be better to show only the consistent donations month to month, and save massive donations for a single month, so that it gives an idea of how stable the site is beyond short term infusions?

    18 votes
    1. [3]
      Deimos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Yeah, it's hard to say. It's really more a question of perspective and difficulty fitting one-time donations into the "monthly goal" approach. If the site was to get a one-time donation of...

      Yeah, it's hard to say. It's really more a question of perspective and difficulty fitting one-time donations into the "monthly goal" approach. If the site was to get a one-time donation of $36,000, it's effectively just as "funded" for the next year as if it gets $3000/month, but with a lot more uncertainty about what happens at the end of the period. However, there's more certainty during the period—you already know that you're set for a year.

      I think we'll just have to try something and see what happens with real donations. It's hard to balance between the different types of donations, but I also don't want to make it seem like one-time donations are less important. They're definitely not and it all goes into the same pool in the end, just at a different rate.

      17 votes
      1. Weldawadyathink
        Link Parent
        What if you take all the extra money at the end of the month and, instead of just dumping it in the next month, portion it out to the next several months in decreasing amounts? For example, 50%...

        What if you take all the extra money at the end of the month and, instead of just dumping it in the next month, portion it out to the next several months in decreasing amounts? For example, 50% goes to December, 25% to January, 12.5% to February, etc. That would lessen the sudden impact of running out of a large one-time donation and can also act as a small rainy day fund.

        12 votes
      2. Bauke
        Link Parent
        I think @aphoenix's suggestion of color coding sections of the bar would be a good way to indicate the different types of income. For example, having just 2 or 3 colors would allow you to have a...

        I think @aphoenix's suggestion of color coding sections of the bar would be a good way to indicate the different types of income. For example, having just 2 or 3 colors would allow you to have a "relatively stable income" color that includes recurring donations and the likes, and for the other color to be a "unstable income" like big one-off donations and similar. With potentially a third being donations coming from the rollover of previous months.

        8 votes
    2. Litmus2336
      Link Parent
      Perhaps only have rollover be applied at months end? Or distribute rollover equally over a multi-month period?

      Perhaps only have rollover be applied at months end? Or distribute rollover equally over a multi-month period?

      4 votes
  6. gpl
    Link
    Good news! I agree donations should roll over, as that will also provide a nice cushion in case there are some slow weeks. As for fiddling with the donations bar, you could always represent the...

    Good news!

    I agree donations should roll over, as that will also provide a nice cushion in case there are some slow weeks. As for fiddling with the donations bar, you could always represent the overflow with small bars below. Something like

    █████████████
    ▄▄▄▄ ▄▄▄▄ ▄▄▄▄
    

    if that makes sense. In any case, this is a good problem to have!

    9 votes
  7. [3]
    vord
    Link
    I like the comments so far about splitting large one time donations to be a more consistent cash flow. I would take this to a logical conclusion: Large one time donations would ideally be put into...

    I like the comments so far about splitting large one time donations to be a more consistent cash flow. I would take this to a logical conclusion:

    Large one time donations would ideally be put into a separate account from recurring donations. This account should have a long term goal of creating a perpetual trust fund to cover operating costs without further donations. Perhaps lay out some rules to state X years of growth are dedicated to further growth, then after that a portion can start being extracted for regular budgeting.

    While I am not too familiar with the feasibility or specifics of this, it's not unprecedented in the USA at least, for example the endowments of universities.

    If such a lofty goal is unattainable, I would split the large donations equally across a full year to reduce the inconsistencies caused by donation spikes.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      I thought about doing something like that, but I think it ruins the impact of larger one-time donations in a different way. Take this case for example: the bar was at almost $1000, about 30%....

      I thought about doing something like that, but I think it ruins the impact of larger one-time donations in a different way.

      Take this case for example: the bar was at almost $1000, about 30%. Someone donates $2600, and instead of seeing the bar shoot to over 100% when their donation is added, it would increase by... about $220 and 7% because it's been split into 12. When someone makes a large donation, I think it's best if it actually shows a large, immediate impact. I think that's what the donators would expect and want to see.

      7 votes
      1. daychilde
        Link Parent
        If the bar can support multiple colours, maybe a different colour for the portion of the bar taken up by any single donation that is over, say, 1% of the monthly goal? That might emphasize the...

        If the bar can support multiple colours, maybe a different colour for the portion of the bar taken up by any single donation that is over, say, 1% of the monthly goal? That might emphasize the large donation while at the same time showing users that it's one-time, or at least large.

        1 vote
  8. [3]
    balooga
    Link
    Earlier the graph on the homepage said the November goal was 119% complete. Now it says 110%... anybody know why it changed?

    Earlier the graph on the homepage said the November goal was 119% complete. Now it says 110%... anybody know why it changed?

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      The price of Bitcoin has dropped about $1000 this week, and I haven't converted it yet.

      The price of Bitcoin has dropped about $1000 this week, and I haven't converted it yet.

      7 votes
      1. balooga
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the reply. That's a slippery thing to keep track of!

        Thanks for the reply. That's a slippery thing to keep track of!

        5 votes