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When I started blogging, I put up a “donation” page. I did because I had seen them on many of the blogs I frequented.

Although I still have mixed feelings about donations on blogs. my “donate” page sits quietly in my header.

Close to my one year anniversary of blogging, I received my first donation, which, in turn, inspired this post topic.

Today’s Lesson

As bloggers hop from site to site, changing themes, and/or adding plugins, we often encounter a donate button with a short quote stating “Please feel free to donate if you enjoyed this…”

Although most bloggers start blogging not expecting donations, the subject of donations usually surfaces, and can initiate an internal conversation.

This subject of donations may fall into one of the following arguments:

1) Some will argue that no one else charges for information on the internet, so if you don’t want to give it for free, then put it in the form of a book (or e-book).

2) Many bloggers happily share all they have learned with others in hopes it changes a life (or two), and a simple thank you is sufficient.

3) Some may resist adding a donate button, thinking it looks like they are being greedy, it goes against why they started blogging, or it contradicts the message of their blog.

4) Blogs are often an extension/addition to a business website, and the author’s goal is to promote their business. A donation button may cheapen the entire site, and take away from the professionalism of the business.

5) If a blogger is seeing revenues from the monetization of their blog(s), donations may not interest them.

6) Some blog authors will tap into all income streams and aggressively promote donating.

Is there one right answer? Probably not.

For those who want to add a “donate” page, it’s actually quite easy.

I first created a new page and named it “Donate” (or use a page title that suits you).

I then set up a business account with PayPal,so I can receive credit card payments.

Paypal will supply you with the necessary code to insert into your page.

After you have inserted the code and saved/published it, test the donate button. If you’re not seeing the correct output, check to make sure the code was entered properly You may have to reenter it.

When donations are received, they are automatically transferred into your PayPal account, and from there can be transferred to your preferred bank account. PayPal will also send you an email notifying you of the donation.

Adding the code and a message to your sidebar can be done by modifying your sidebar php. file(s)

A plugin, by the name of “Buy Me A Beer” (which also has a “coffee cup” option), is another option. It will need to be linked to your chosen collection service (PayPal,, or other).

For those who want to accept checks or money orders, a valid address will need to be posted.

Personally, I don’t expect my readers to donate. Nor do I want them to feel guilty if they don’t. I freely share with others what I have learned. If someone is moved to donate, I am forever grateful.

Today’s Assignment

What are your thoughts on donations?

Do you currently use a donate button, or are you thinking of adding one?


Thank you Sherief Mursyidi for the “Buy Me A Beer” plugin.
Photo Credit: zzzack’s photostream

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Look Who's Talking
  1. David LanoNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    I have been thinking about adding a donate option to my blog for a while now. The arguments mentioned in your post are good things to keep in mind. Thanks for bundling them together. πŸ™‚

    How do you recommend setting up a donate page? I am familiar with PayPal and getting the necessary code for creating the button/image, but are their specific things one should mention when creating a donate page? (Ex. Author Info, Explanation for why author asks for donations, etc)

    David Lano’s last blog post..The Gift Economy, And Why It’s Refreshing

  2. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    No, I don’t use a donate button and I don’t forsee doing so in the future. I still need to get the ads on my site.

    I never realized you had a donate button. I’ve only seen a donate button on one blog I subscribe to. It’s for freelance writing jobs. She collects job listings and puts them in one place. Right now I haven’t pursued anything. The freelance is on the backburner for a little bit, but I’m doing the background for when I do pursue it more actively. I have to admit I was a little taken aback when I first saw it. I’ve not donated. Maybe I will if her site starts paying off for me. I have to say I probably fall in the 1-3 range on this issue. At least for the moment.

    If I’m going to ask others for money, I’d prefer to ask them to support a charity. I don’t mind if people put the donate button on their blog. Nothing says I have to donate and it never hurts to ask.

    Debbie Yost’s last blog post..A Quiet Evening

  3. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t use a donate button. Generally, I don’t think they work. The only way that I would do that would be if I created something unique and useful, which is not likely.

    I, too, don’t mind if others ask for donations. However, it’s not likely that I would ever donate — I’m much more likely to click on an ad than a donate button.

    Mike Goad’s last blog post..Road to the Ranch

  4. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    What are your thoughts on donations? I usually donate when someone offers a free software and then may ask for a small donation. If I’m using something, I’m more likely to donate.

    Do you currently use a donate button, or are you thinking of adding one? I don’t have one on my blog, but I do on my website. I don’t take it seriously though, if someone were to donate, I’d be surprise, but if their heart moves them to do so, then the button is there.

    Natural’s last blog post..Malicious Comment

  5. Ian DennyNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve actually got some sympathy for donate pages, but suspect they aren’t often successful.

    The motivations are often honourable – e.g. get rid of ads so the site is crisp and the focus is therefore on the content. And a donate option is useful if the reader wants to thank the author and encourage them to continue.

    I read about that last year in a book on blogging. And I seem to remember tha author suggesting that donate pages can be taken down for most of the time, and just run marathon time-limited events where the authors sets their target and does effectively a fund-raising campaign for short periods to cover their hosting fees, costs AND their time.

    Then afterwards, switch it back off again, or demote it completely.

    With so many competitors out there – almost regardless of topic – the same information is available without cost or the guilt of reading without donating.

    I don’t have one. Nor ads at the moment.

    But I certainly don’t object to anyone using ads, donations or whatever to make a living. The content and personality of the blog is the most important thing.

    And I have purchased from ads on blogs, reviews by the authors etc. From memory, I’ve never clicked on adsense ads. But I have clicked on AdWords through Google searches.

    I think you become blind to adverts after a while!

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..How Awful Is My First Attempt At An E-Book? Tell Me The Brutal Truth

  6. I don’t have a problem with a donate option…I mean you are providing a service that is available to those that need it for free. If someone finds your service particularly valuable to them then maybe they want to say thank you…

    I will eventually have a donate option on my blog but it will be for my charity organization that provides alternative medicine care for underserved populations. The success of my blog will predict how soon I can get that put together.

    But heck if someone wants to buy you a beer…I say let them buy you a beer!!

    Dr. Nicole Sundene’s last blog post..Welcome

  7. Barbara,

    Donation may be a good stream of revenue if I have one of the most popular blogs. For example, Leo’s Zen Habits or Steve Pavlina’s blog. Both have donation button and I am sure that it is worthwhile effort for them otherwise they’d have used that space as an ad spot.

    For me while I am growing my blog, I’d not bother with donation as it may not produce any income and it may hamper my growth by creating negative impression.

    Just my opinion.

    Thanks
    Shilpan

  8. Donate buttons don’t bother me, though so far I haven’t made any donations. I don’t know if I’ll ever add a donate button. Since I plan to have ebooks for sale at some point, I figure that people who want to make a donation might as well buy an ebook so they get something in return for their contribution.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Synchronicities: Just Coincidence, Or Signs From The Universe?

  9. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I’ve seen them before, but I’m not sure whether they would be right for my blog or not. Mind you, if all else fails I will certainly try it.

    You know, I never noticed your donate button before either. I think that when we visit a blog often, we begin to become immune to anything other than the words we are reading. I’m wondering if your donate button would attract more attention at the end of each post?

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..The Dangers Of The E-Myth

  10. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi David,

    When setting up my donate page, I just made it real simple, but when you’re online and see others, you may look at what they did too. Some say they’re trying to recoup some of their web hosting costs, etc…

    Hi Debbie,

    Like I said, mine does sit in the header and I never have attempted to draw any attention to it.

    Hi Mike,

    Good to see you here again.

    I wonder how well they do work. I think I read on Steve Pavlina’s site that he gets over $100 a month in donations, but he aggressively promotes his.

    Hi Natural,

    Great answers! Another “A” πŸ™‚

    Hi Ian,

    I do agree, as bloggers we do become blind to ads. I think the same holds true for donate buttons.

    Hi Dr. Nicole,

    I like your idea of having a “donate” button for a favorite charity. Yours sounds like it is a good one. I’m guessing you will have great success with it.

    Hi Shilpan,

    Welcome to the BWAB community!

    You brought up a good point about a donate button taking up your blog’s “real estate”. Bloggers would have to determine how the space is best used.

    Hi Hunter,

    E-books are a great way to generate additional revenue for a blog. Like you say, they would get something for their money.

    Hi Cath,

    What have you got to lose? With the great business advice you provide, some may be willing to donate a few bucks.

    Last year I used the “Buy Me A Coffee” button on the bottom of my posts, but I really wasn’t getting enough traffic for it to make a difference. I may try it again.

  11. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    I have a donation button but have only had one donate. In Blogger I haven’t figured out how to create a separate page for the donation information so I just have the information at the bottom of my blog and the donation button at the end of my posts. I don’t know how to link the 2 together.

    I think it gives people the opportunity to say thank you if they want to and show their support. Sometimes, you really like what someone wrote or the information they provided and you wanted to give them something in return for their efforts. This gives them a way to do it.

    Pat R’s last blog post..Learning How to Awaken

  12. MindBloggerNo Gravatar says:

    I do not use a donate button in my blog. But I certainly do respect other people’s decision to do so. Sometimes, when people enjoy my posts, they leave me a tip at the “Scratch Back” widget where they buy a link off my site paying a fee. This had been very effective for me since it’s a win/win situation for both me and my donors.
    Cheers!

    MindBlogger’s last blog post..4 common misconceptions of the blogosphere that will RUIN your blogging

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Pat,

    I agree it gives readers the option to donate, if they so desire. For some, written words hold ton of value, and a monetary donation is their way of saying thank you.

    Hi MindBlogger,

    Welcome to the BWAB community.

    I just left your great site. I didn’t notice your widget, but will go back and check it out.

    BTW: I enjoy your content and the spin you put on the different blogging topics. It’s wonderful to find another blogger who’s willing to share what they’ve learned about blogging too.

  14. MindBloggerNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Barbara. About th widget, it’s the first one on the the rightmost sidebar. Titled “Get into my Top Spots”.

    MindBlogger’s last blog post..4 common misconceptions of the blogosphere that will RUIN your blogging

  15. JoanneNo Gravatar says:

    I go back and forth on this a lot. I still haven’t decided what to do on my blog(s). On one hand, I do monitize my blog so why not ask for donations also. But then, I feel like it’s the ‘asking” that bothers me. When I put up ads, I’m not actively asking anyone to click on them or buy something through one of my links.

    Joanne’s last blog post..Blogs and Sites That Linked To Us

  16. I hope it’s okay if I out myself as the one who gave you your first donation Barbara!

    I was very surprised to hear that I was the first to donate to you, to be honest. Why? Because you did me a great service – you made my blog your blog of the week – a very generous boost you gave me – sending your fans to my blog.

    You helped me – and asked for nothing in return. I wanted to pay you back somehow. So I gave you energy in the form of money. It wasn’t a lot, but it was something – it made me feel great to do it.

    Marianne Williamson lectured for years for free, asking for a “suggested donation”. She gave a lot of spiritual guidence to people, and they responded.

    I have a donation button on my blog. My hope is that if something I say dramatically impacts somebody’s life, they’ll send me some energy back in the form of money. I see no problem with that.

    I might consider having a “donation fundraiser” at some point. I don’t like asking for money, but at the same time, I find it takes a ton of time and energy to produce great content that helps people. To do it for free forever might not be the best strategy.

    Just yesterday I spent $140 to fix a computer issue that was my blog hosts’ fault, not mine. The blog is costing me! But I love it, and I’m enjoying the responses and the community I’m building.

    I also donated to Internet Business Mastery because they taught me so much (for free!). We have to keep the circulation flowing! It’s good karma! πŸ™‚

    Mark – Creative Journey Cafe’s last blog post..The Story of My Gratitude Pen

  17. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi MindBlogger,

    When I went back, I found it.

    That’s the first time I’ve seen that feature.

  18. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Joanne,

    The BWAB community welcomes you!

    It is a tough call whether to have one or not, and then where ti put a donate button, and you should promote donations aggressively.

    Since no one is obligated to donate, it appears consensus is “why not?”

  19. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Mark,

    I contemplated saying it was you, but I also know some people who make donations prefer to remain anonymous, and not wanting to disrespect your wishes (not knowing what they were), I didn’t include your name. Now I can say, Thank you again! πŸ™‚

    You do bring up a good point. We can gather tons of information from the internet, for free. Without the internet, we could potentially spend hundreds (or more) on books, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. Some of the information we gather saves up time, money and/or teaches us. With it being difficult to put a price on some of what we gain, leaving a donation does become a great way to say “thank you”, and create good karma.

  20. Ian DennyNo Gravatar says:

    Does anyone have cable or satellite TV that they pay for?

    One way to look at blogging is that the fees we end up paying for hosting etc is paid in return for entertainment.

    I find blogging – whether it’s me posting stuff or reading/commenting on others – is entertaining and fun.

    So I don’t find it hard to justify the money I have spent experimenting with blogs.

    My personal blog – the identity I mostly choose to use as my comment URL – is free so I don’t have the conscience wrangle.

    I have in the past spent money on it while I was learning, and if I wanted to spend more time on it, I wouldn’t object to paying, even if there was no return.

    My company site/blog however is easy to justify – it’s helping our business grow. And the cost (c.Β£2000 or $4000) has been far outweighed by over Β£100K ($200K) in sales.

    If you have a real-world small business – even in a local community and specialist sector, there are ways of using a site/blog to help generate sales.

    None of them have been “click and buy” sales. They have generated enquiries which have led to business.

    The challenge though is creating the conversation. I don’t think we’ve even begun to tap it’s potential.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Your Feedback Resulted In These E-Book Changes

  21. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ian,

    You bring up great points.

    I especially agree that that subject of creating conversation in blogs is a feature millions are not aware of.

  22. Babara,

    I’d rather put a button indicating to donate a referral subscription than money. So, idea is to refer to a friend for potential subscription if you like the content of my blog. I may call it “Buy me a referral ?” πŸ™‚

    Shilpan

    Shilpan | successsoul.com’s last blog post..3 Steps to Develop a Personal Vision for the Life

  23. hey Barbara!

    I have absolutely nothing against a donate button. I don’t think anything of the blogger bc of it and hey, if I love the site and the option is there, why not?

    I am not against monetizing sites UNLESS its in those distracting, obnoxious ads that get in the way of reading too much.. those sites I simply just leave

    no about my site – nah, I don’t use a donate button – the only one I’ve thought of thus far is not for me but for organizations or whatever that can use the help – for instant the march of dimes donation thing I have up for my friend Misty on my page right now

    I choose not to use donation buttons because I monetize my site a diff. way – through an ad network

    In fact, people’s readership literally “donate” something to me πŸ™‚ If someone feels so inclined, the best way they can give JEMi anything is by telling a friend to stop by the site lol

    btw – I NEVER realized you had a donate button up there!

    that blogger blindness’ll getcha!

    JEMi @ InMyHeels’s last blog post..Half-Assed: Becoming Half Your Size

  24. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Shilpan,

    I like the originality of your “contribution” idea. It’s a concept I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s a good one

  25. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi JEMi,

    The last time I visited you I saw your March of Dimes campaign. That is a superb idea. You’re helping a good cause and with the exposure your blog gets, it’s apt to bring in some money for a good organization.

    Readership is priceless, isn’t it?

  26. Ellen WilsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I like sharing, but money is nice too! I am going to add a button, I think. I would rather add $5 or $10 to a bloggers site if I have been going there awhile and find it enjoyable and informative.

    There is a way to add these on paypal, now, without the code. I think I downloaded the button? I’ll have to check and get back with you.

    Ellen

    Ellen Wilsons last blog post..Archetypes and Symbols are for Everyone

  27. Ellen WilsonNo Gravatar says:

    Oh how exciting! I just went to the paypal site copied the code, pasted it in a text widget, and voila! It appears. Nothing could be simpler. I just had to share.

    I think my last comment was eaten by akismet because of the link I added.

    Ellen

    Ellen Wilsons last blog post..Archetypes and Symbols are for Everyone

  28. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ellen

    I do agree, since we write for free, it’s nice when someone rewards with a donation.

    Thanks for supplying the link to the Paypal button/widget. I fished it out of my spam folder. πŸ™‚