Reflections on our Spring 2013 Fundraiser
In this post I am going to reflect on our fundraiser that ended on June 16.
Eventually we collected 21,547 pounds. We are eternally grateful to all our sponsors! This sum will be enough to pay our bills until mid-November.
Initially, some of you may have been puzzled about why we needed to hire a full-time programmer, a server professional and rent an office. It may have come out of the blue, since - after all - we've been able to manage without outside help for 4 years. However, this switch to a more professional site maintenance was bound to happen sooner or later, since the energy of the founders (all of whom have full-time day jobs) is not boundless and the ever growing coding work and the ever more complex server infrastructure necessitated the assistance of these salaried helpers. (We had long been trying to recruit volunteer programmers - you may remember this banner on the right - but no one applied.)
The long-term future of the site
With 28% of our budget missing after the fundraiser, this is the first time that our finances have gotten out of balance. This raises questions not only about the time after November, but also about the long-term future of the site. We don't want to pester our members with another fundraiser in October, and we don't believe it would be successful, anyways, if less than 0.5% of our users will donate. If we want to save the site from going down, we have to come up with alternative revenue streams.
Let me assure you that we will do our best to get our finances straight. We've never hunted for advertisers, because we were very idealistic and didn't want to spoil the look and feel of the site, but now it is time to change our attitude in this respect. We will also look for EU grants, if any of you has a tip, please let us know. Nevertheless, we believe that our best shot is to roll out some extra features and services that can be purchased in a "premium" subscription for a minimal monthly fee (e.g. 1 or 2 dollars/month) - while adhering to our mission and keeping the resources freely downloadable with the basic (free) membership. These extra features could include the following:
- e.g. a full-screen preview, which allows you to flip through all the pages of the document in full size;
- larger file sizes for uploads;
- private storage for all the materials you use for teaching;
- full search functionality for your "liked" iSL resources, shared and private uploads; etc.
Basic (free) membership
- download resources free of charge
We will include in the planning of this "subscription pack" as many members as possible. We have already started asking for the feedback of our hardcore users, and we may also run an opinion poll soon to see which extra functions users would be willing to pay a symbolic amount for. We hope that the revenues from this low-fee subscription will be enough to guarantee the long-term survival of our platform for the sharing of free teaching resources.
Thank you very much to those approx. 1500 members who made a contribution in the fundraiser! You are truly the angels of this site, and without you we couldn't have continued this sharing project!
Over the weekend we started posting the gifts. We will be mailing the rest this week. Thanks to the Tátika fashion brand for providing the gifts to our sponsors.