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Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:59:32 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: Funding musl development via Patreon

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 10:51:06AM +0100, Szabolcs Nagy wrote:
> * Rich Felker <> [2014-11-18 15:44:33 -0500]:
> > So if you're using musl and want to help musl keep getting better,
> > please consider becoming a sponsor. The average donation through the
> > Patreon platform is $5-$10/month, but even a dollar shows you care,
> > and lots of little donations add up.
> > 
> i think the transaction cost is important to note:

Thanks for your concern. I'll try to explain why I'm not concerned
about any of this and don't think donors should be either.

> "
> Patreon takes 5% and the creators cover the credit card transaction fees
> which are generally 4% across the site.

I look at it this way:

The 4% is roughly what the card fees come out to when dealing with
such small transactions. This is the price paid for being able to
effectively make use of a lot of small donations rather than being
tied down to a few large donors who can compromise the independence of
a project. My understanding is that it can and will come out to much
less than 4% (asymptotically, 2.1%) for large donations as long as
the sponsor isn't using Paypal.

The 5% is the cost of having someone else handle all of the pledge
tracking, automated monthly charging, etc. The alternatives -- doing
that completely manually, or developing an in-house system to do it --
would be completely impractical, and thus would just preclude this
kind of fundraising altogether.

Having worked with businesses processing credit cards, I can say with
some confidence that credit cards (even with their processing fees)
are the way you want to get paid. Any other system (e.g. cash, checks,
bank transfers, etc.) costs a lot more just in terms of time/labor to
process them. Even if you have an employee working at something like
$10/hr handling getting these kinds of payments into your bank
account, you're still spending more than you would be spending on card
fees. And if I were trying to manage donations myself, it would be a
net drain from the musl project, not a benefit.

For those suggesting bitcoin, even bitcoin seems like it would cost
more to process -- the cost of developing and hosting the system, or
of constantly manually exchanging bitcoins. It would also preclude
this kind of fundraising model, since you can't do recurring charges
on bitcoin without either entrusting your wallet to a third party
that's responsible for doing it (and we've seen what a bad idea this
is countless times) or having donors run a client that knows to make
recurring payments.

> Our billing partners charge the following fees for pledges:
> Paypal $0.05 + 5%* per transaction Stripe $0.30 + 2.1%* per transaction
> Patreon also has a 5% fee to cover our operating costs*

I think this means large donors should prefer Stripe if possible, and
small donors should prefer Paypal. But really it's best to leave it to
what an individual wants to do. Worrying about how to save a couple %
just leads to getting nothing.

> Transferring funds from your Patreon account Our partners charge the
> following fees to transfer funds to your personal accounts: Direct Deposit
> (US only) $0.25 fee per transfer Payoneer (US & International) $3.00 fee
> per transfer PayPal USA 2% capped at $1.00 fee per transfer PayPal
> International 0.5% - 2% fee of amount transferred

This is a non-issue for me, being US-based with direct deposit.

> (i'd not recommend sending $1 over such a system: for credit card
> transfer the overhead is $0.37 as far as i can see not counting

I think this can be made as small as $0.10 by using Paypal. But small
donations like $1 probably make more sense when you're already using
Patreon to support other projects/people, and want to spread your
giving out among multiple recipients while keeping the total small.
The $0.05+5% or $0.30+2.1% are taken out of your total payment to
Patreon, not the portion going to one particular project.

> the conversion costs when sending from outside the us and the
> patreon->dalias transaction (which hopefully will have amortized
> costs) and i would not recommend paypal for reliability reasons..
> the micro payment problem is not solved yet)

It might not be solved, but based on the efforts I spent looking into
it, Patreon seems to be the best option we have right now for taking
voluntary recurring payments.


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