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The thing that brought this to mind was a post on Slashdot, titled, “How To Get Open Source Projects To Take Our Money?” The questioner on Slashdot wrote,
“Last financial year, we had an underspend at work, and it was suggested and agreed that we should give some cash away — $20k to be exact — to open source projects. Four projects were selected. A management catch was that it could not appear to be a donation and it had to be for something we had notionally received in the current financial year. At that time it was early June, our financial year finishes at the end of June. The four projects were emailed using the most relevant looking contact address on their website. Often this was ‘Finance’ or ‘Donations’ contact. What do you know, none of the projects that were contacted could work out a way to accept our money. We were unable to give a cent of the twenty grand away, not even a cent. All somebody needed to do was invoice us for something (perhaps ‘support’ or whatever) and they’d have received $5000. Of the projects contacted, two never replied to our mail — perhaps they thought it a scam? The other two contacted couldn’t work out what to invoice and just went away. Is open source too rich to need the money? Have you got a funny donation story? Better still, do you have a way this can be streamlined when we have our next underspend? The goal was not to have a funny (sad) story, but to support the projects that support our business.”
The Slashdotter’s company wanted to get billed for a service rather than donate the money. They would not be able to write off a donation to a person or company that was for profit. They apparently could take a tax deduction for a purchased service.
This points out, however, that if you provide a service, even something for free, an electronic “Tip” jar might be a good idea. It is fairly easy to implement. Paypal gives you the code to add a Donations button on your web page.
And you should be flexible. As mentioned on Slashdot, the open source projects they wanted to support missed out on $5,000 each because they didn’t have a way to bill the company. Of course you do have to watch out for scams that may say they want to send you money for a service. Never send money to someone you don’t know on the internet.
Have you ever tried paying for something and found that you couldn’t?