Donation Drive Changes, Launches Next Week


The 2012 Donation Drive Has Launched!


We are launching our tenth annual donation drive next week, and while we have some exciting ideas in store for this year’s month-long effort, there are also going to have to be some changes. For a while now we have suspected that we would need to make a change to the way we are running our annual donation drives, and this year we finally need to go and do it.

The biggest immediate change long-time visitors will notice is that the giveaway prize drawings are gone. The fact of the matter is that these drawings put us and our site in an uncomfortable position of tying donations to our effort with a gambling-like drawing. Not only is this essentially prohibited by every money service we have access to, but there were countless jurisdictions where we have readers that have laws against this kind of activity. As the level of participation in the site and the drives have increased over the year, the likelihood that our drive, as well intentioned as it may have been, was going to end up creating a problem finally ratcheted up to the point where we are making this choice.

What we hope, and what many have told us, is that the reason people were donating was because they genuinely wanted to support this site and this community; not because of the giveaways. And, I hope that’s true, because when it comes right down to it, we don’t really think the donation drive has anything to do with Shawn or myself. It is about you investing in your community.

So the choice not to have a prize giveaway also represented for us an opportunity to change the way we were handling the donation drive in some other ways. And, though the loss of prizes is kind of a bummer, I think you might like some things about our new plan as well.

I have to admit, we entertained (if only for a moment) the idea of just doing a Kickstarter. That idea did not last very long. While Kickstarter is a terrific platform for funding a specific project, I think that using it as a tool for creating an ongoing support structure would be the proverbial round peg in the fourth-dimensional hypercube hole. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t openly borrow some ideas from Kickstarter and do our own thing without venturing into some of the woodier hollows that made less sense.

First of all, for the first time in our decade-long history of running the drive, we will be keeping a user-visible running tally of donations along with some clear financial goals. We think the most fun thing about watching someone raise money for something they believe in is sharing that sense of progress with them. Even when we have efforts within the forums where someone is trying to raise a couple of hundred bucks, and you can see the effort of the community blow past that goal, it makes me feel good to be a part of that.

Additionally, while we will not be having raffles, we will still be setting goals and stretch goals, and associating some cool things we might do with those goals. Things like throwing parties, cool artwork or even a potential video series. That said, our focus again remains making the entire community part of whatever we do, so if we hit those goals as a group there won’t be gating or hidden files only for those who donated. We really want people to think as they are giving that they are making the site better for everyone, and as/if we hit those big goals, we also want that to be reflected in having benefits that span the entire community.

That said, we aren’t completely abandoning individual benefits either. A forum icon will still be awarded to anyone who contributes — the icon you get still depends on how many times you have donated to the site in the past. And for the extraordinary few, literally a handful of people, who will have donated for a tenth time to the site, we have a brand new 10-year icon, which is all the more special because we have decided this is the last one. Next year no new icon, so it feels fitting to us to have this final icon be something you can almost literally wear proudly for years to come.

Additionally, we have a few donation-level prizes that will offer individual benefits. They are pretty cool, we think, and so most of them are in limited quantities. If we see a high demand for them, we may offer some new, different individual benefits later in the drive. We’re playing it by ear.

I can’t say this isn’t a little unnerving for us. In a way, we are making a shift this year from saying “donate and maybe you’ll get some cool stuff,” to saying “donate to keep this thing running, because of that cool stuff.” This year’s prize is basically another year of GWJ for everyone, another year of the forum, of the podcasts, of the community and of articles.

We never built this site expecting to get rich from it, and we certainly haven’t been proven wrong in our expectation. Our big position is that the thing we can’t do is lose money on the effort. And every year to date we have gotten to where we needed to go from a funding standpoint and beyond, allowing us to continue to grow our writers, grow our content, grow the community and grow what we deliver. There are a lot of costs associated with the site: podcast hosting, server/bandwidth, travel and attendance at events, community functions, providing a cut to the host of people who support and provide content, equipment, and so on.

As we approach our official ten-year anniversary in early 2013, we are hoping we can count on you guys to continue supporting the site. Our base goal is not trivial — $15,000 — but you guys have come through time and time again. So, what do you say? How about another year?

Look for the drive to officially launch around September 4th!

Comments

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I'm in! *opens wallet*

Actual monetary goal and progress bar? We'll probably destroy that.

Never won anything anyways.

I definitely don't like the idea of having a "final" icon. I look forward to getting a new one every year, and yes, I like the cred that comes with having been here a long time. What if you just restarted the cycle in a different color or something? I don't really see how you benefit by curtailing the sequence.

On the other hand, I don't mind the no prizes change at all.

Article wrote:

the reason people were donating was because they genuinely wanted to support this site and this community; not because of the giveaways.

That's certainly what it is for me. The raffle was kind of neat in theory, but it was beside the point.

Also, might as well get this out there right away.

IMAGE(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8lqlwrrfE1r4zff2o2_500.jpg)

Alien13z wrote:

I definitely don't like the idea of having a "final" icon. ... What if you just restarted the cycle in a different color or something?

Oh, like a "presitge" mode for the icons? That would be very cool.

No prizes is a bummer, but I never donated with the thought of winning anything (even though I actually did last year), and I'm sure I am not alone in that.

I think y'all way overestimated us. We were only into this site for the phat loot. Oh well. Maybe Giantbomb will give us free stuff.

Wait, we still get an icon upgrade? Ok, never mind, I guess I'm still in.

garion333 wrote:

Actual monetary goal and progress bar? We'll probably destroy that.

If we double the goal, Elysium has to get a tattoo. If we triple it, we get to vote on where he gets it. Quadruple, we get to vote on what he gets. In other words, $60k and he's strolling down the sidewalk with a dragon humping a car on his forehead.

trichy wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Actual monetary goal and progress bar? We'll probably destroy that.

If we double the goal, Elysium has to get a tattoo. If we triple it, we get to vote on where he gets it. Quadruple, we get to vote on what he gets. In other words, $60k and he's strolling down the sidewalk with a dragon humping a car on his forehead.

For anyone else, that'd be a great choice, but I think for him I'd choose a screen-grab of The World Ends With You. Doesn't have as much play with the random passer-by, is that really what matters here?

trichy wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Actual monetary goal and progress bar? We'll probably destroy that.

If we double the goal, Elysium has to get a tattoo. If we triple it, we get to vote on where he gets it. Quadruple, we get to vote on what he gets. In other words, $60k and he's strolling down the sidewalk with a dragon humping a car on his forehead.

I support this.

Garden Ninja wrote:

IMAGE(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8lqlwrrfE1r4zff2o2_500.jpg)

This.

trichy wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Actual monetary goal and progress bar? We'll probably destroy that.

If we double the goal, Elysium has to get a tattoo. If we triple it, we get to vote on where he gets it. Quadruple, we get to vote on what he gets. In other words, $60k and he's strolling down the sidewalk with a dragon humping a car on his forehead.

Currently liquidating my kids' college funds in expectation of this.

trichy wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Actual monetary goal and progress bar? We'll probably destroy that.

If we double the goal, Elysium has to get a tattoo. If we triple it, we get to vote on where he gets it. Quadruple, we get to vote on what he gets. In other words, $60k and he's strolling down the sidewalk with a dragon humping a car on his forehead.

No words can describe how badly I want this to happen!

Can somebody (or has somebody already done this in another thread) summarize each icon and how many years it represents? I can't keep track.

Also, perhaps there is a good reason why this is never discussed, but I would be interested to know how this money is used (in general, not a detailed breakdown). I imagine much of it goes to support the costs associated with running the web page. I know in the past some of the money would be used to pay for E3 coverage. I don't feel like there is any obligation to share this information with the community but I've spent so much time here over the years I guess I have some curiosity about the inner workings if somebody is so inclined to share.

Garden Ninja wrote:

IMAGE(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8lqlwrrfE1r4zff2o2_500.jpg)

I was just looking for this meme and you beat me to it.

Bravo, you get one internets.

Copingsaw wrote:

I would be interested to know how this money is used (in general, not a detailed breakdown).

Here's the preliminary expense budget:

Hookers $10,000.00
Blow $ 4,900.01
Elysium Ass Tattoo $ 99.99

If the new icon isn't a golden magic sparkle pony, I will be sorely disappointed.

Sounds great!

FeralMonkey wrote:

If the new icon isn't a golden magic sparkle pony, I will be sorely disappointed.

That also needs to be the tattoo.

Copingsaw wrote:

Can somebody (or has somebody already done this in another thread) summarize each icon and how many years it represents? I can't keep track.

All I could find was the 2010 post.

Elysium wrote:

First time donors get a golden key. If this is your second year donating you get a gold watch. Three years earns the iconic weiner bomb, four years gets you a company car, five years a company jet, six years a fancy yacht. Seven years is your very own Corporate Companion Cube, and for the elite few who have been with us since day one and donated to the site for all eight drives ... well, let's just say our next icon is ready to really bind you to the site.

So what were 8 and 9?

Maybe this year I'll actually get an icon?

Minarchist wrote:
trichy wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Actual monetary goal and progress bar? We'll probably destroy that.

If we double the goal, Elysium has to get a tattoo. If we triple it, we get to vote on where he gets it. Quadruple, we get to vote on what he gets. In other words, $60k and he's strolling down the sidewalk with a dragon humping a car on his forehead.

For anyone else, that'd be a great choice, but I think for him I'd choose a screen-grab of The World Ends With You. Doesn't have as much play with the random passer-by, is that really what matters here?

I'll gladly double my donation from last year to help out with this.

Maybe this year I'll actually get an icon?

Egad! Went back and checked my records. You should have an icon.

I definitely don't like the idea of having a "final" icon.

I don't know if that's written in stone. Your idea of a prestige icon has merit.

If we double the goal, Elysium has to get a tattoo. If we triple it, we get to vote on where he gets it. Quadruple, we get to vote on what he gets. In other words, $60k and he's strolling down the sidewalk with a dragon humping a car on his forehead.

What an interesting idea. Interesting and terrible. You're idea is bad and you should feel bad.

Now, a shaving my beard stretch goal may have merit. Or maybe a goal where I livestream drinking a 12 pack of Corona. Or maybe a stretch goal where I just drink a 12 pack of Corona. hmmmmm

Garden Ninja wrote:
Article wrote:

the reason people were donating was because they genuinely wanted to support this site and this community; not because of the giveaways.

That's certainly what it is for me. The raffle was kind of neat in theory, but it was beside the point.

Also, might as well get this out there right away.

IMAGE(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8lqlwrrfE1r4zff2o2_500.jpg)

+1

Sounds good to me.
I won't be getting the 10th year icon....
But how about my own custom icon?
I really want this one :
IMAGE(http://img855.imageshack.us/img855/6718/donatefirefly.jpg)

Kurrelgyre wrote:

All I could find was the 2010 post.

Elysium wrote:

First time donors get a golden key. If this is your second year donating you get a gold watch. Three years earns the iconic weiner bomb, four years gets you a company car, five years a company jet, six years a fancy yacht. Seven years is your very own Corporate Companion Cube, and for the elite few who have been with us since day one and donated to the site for all eight drives ... well, let's just say our next icon is ready to really bind you to the site.

So what were 8 and 9?

8 was handcuffs. 9 is a parachute.

Elysium wrote:

Egad! Went back and checked my records. You should have an icon.

I was secretly wondering how long it would take you guys to notice

Now, a shaving my beard stretch goal may have merit. Or maybe a goal where I livestream drinking a 12 pack of Corona. Or maybe a stretch goal where I just drink a 12 pack of Corona. hmmmmm

What's in it for us?

How about a stretch goal to build that combat arena that was suggested months back?

Elysium wrote:

What an interesting idea. Interesting and terrible. You're idea is bad and you should feel bad.

PAX East is 6 months away. Just sayin'

Kurrelgyre wrote:
Copingsaw wrote:

Can somebody (or has somebody already done this in another thread) summarize each icon and how many years it represents? I can't keep track.

All I could find was the 2010 post.

Elysium wrote:

First time donors get a golden key. If this is your second year donating you get a gold watch. Three years earns the iconic weiner bomb, four years gets you a company car, five years a company jet, six years a fancy yacht. Seven years is your very own Corporate Companion Cube, and for the elite few who have been with us since day one and donated to the site for all eight drives ... well, let's just say our next icon is ready to really bind you to the site.

So what were 8 and 9?

8 - Golden handcuffs (which I suppose now should be in 50 shades of grey...)
9 - Golden parachute

Sparhawk wrote:

I really want this one :
IMAGE(http://img855.imageshack.us/img855/6718/donatefirefly.jpg)

As cool as that would be, everytime Firefly gets brought up the conversation tends to fall into a discussion of the anatomy of someone who was a guest on the show twice. The icon could just be:

( . Y . )
Elysium wrote:

Now, a shaving my beard stretch goal may have merit. Or maybe a goal where I livestream drinking a 12 pack of Corona. Or maybe a stretch goal where I just drink a 12 pack of Corona. hmmmmm

How about taking a photo of yourself dumping a Corona on your mechanical keyboard while sobbing?

I've always thought of my donation as a yearly subscription fee. Having stretch goals and extra incentives may get me to go past my usual donation though.

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