How to increase donations to an open source project
Lots of open source projects raise money from their user communities by soliciting donations. Most open source projects will have the ‘Support’ or ‘Make a Donation’ button on their home page or download page. At Eclipse we have had the Friend of Eclipse program for a number of years to solicit financial support for our community.
Earlier this year, we started looking for ways to increase the number of users making donations. We have millions of people downloading Eclipse but very few making donations. Inspired by Ubuntu’s new donation page and Mozilla’s download page we changed where and how we asked users to make the donation.
The first step was to create a simple and graphically appealing thank you page that requested the user to make a donation. Next we changed where we asked for the donation. We presented the new donation page right after the user started to download Eclipse. Now while the user is waiting for the download to complete they can make the decision to make a donation. Note, we did not ask them before they started the download.
The results have been dramatic. We have seen a 5-6 times increase in the number of people making donations. We now have hundreds of people making a donation each month. I wanted to share these results with everyone so other open source projects might be able to learn from our experience. It was a relatively simple change. Ask for a donation when the download is occurring not when a user is browsing the project site. I also wanted to thank everyone for their support of the Eclipse community. It is great to have your support!