Open source micropayments/donations

(Data Shovel) #1

This is in regards to a Tweet from Ben Milne reaching out in a discussion regarding Open source micropayments / donations and how it’s (until now) always been a hurdle, and that he’s interested in discussing possibility of creating a solution that works well for the community.


I, like many, don’t think lack of donations is an issue of people not wanting to make a difference. I think it’s more an issue of the right workflows and backend logic to ensure making micropayments doesn’t interfere with a user’s daily workflow. I firmly believe the fewer decisions a user has to make about micropayments, and the smoother we can make the experience (without compromising security, etc) the better. For a while I have kicked this problem around in my head to the point that I think I understand the problem well enough (as developer and as donor) that I can offer a basic proposal for how a system like this would (should?) work.

I’ve created a basic summary of the proposal here:

That’s not to say that I think I have everything figured out. After review, you may be able to provide some reasons why the proposal won’t work (as drafted). I’m happy to engage in discussion to work through those issues to see if we can’t create something the entire open source community (and its users) can embrace, which could help sustain open source and even make it thrive beyond what it’s capable of today.


(Gordon Zheng) #2

Hey Cameron!

Thanks for getting in touch. I think your idea has a lot of potential. It could definitely be achieved on our platform.

Coincidentally, Gratipay (formerly Gittip) provides a similar service to what you describe, with minimal fees, and they’re considering integrating with Dwolla. Have you heard of them before? They rock, and they’re an open source project.

Anyway, if you’re looking to build something similar, I’d be happy to help you figure out how to leverage Dwolla.

(Data Shovel) #3

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for the reply. I have heard of Gratipay. I actually (for at least 1 year) have been making weekly donations. I think my account is in some “hiatus” mode right now though because of the switch. I haven’t seen any deductions come through on my bank account for a while come to think of it. Part of the problem in my mind is each time a certain amount of my donation goes to the card network. This seems to make micro payments unsustainable (it really doesn’t make sense to micro-pay $0.25 if Visa also receives $0.25+3%). If required, I could probably come up with 100-200 different targets I’d like to contribute a fraction of my overall contribution to, but given the relatively labor-intensive process I’d need to go through I pretty much have settled on a handful of targets for my donations. Separately I do send checks to companies (such as Apache Foundation, FreeBSD, etc) which of course is no cost, but I can’t imagine how large / unmanageable my list of checks would be if I had to set up a separate check for each donation manually and then re-calculate every time I came across another project I’d like to contribute to.

Anyway, I’m happy to hear you’re interested in working with me to leverage Dwolla for this project. I actually just purchased a domain name and SSL cert, and will be putting together something (given opportunity, hopefully within the next few weeks).

It’s probably going to be “in development” for a bit, but you may be able to see a snapshot of my progress as I go at:

(I may not go to the trouble of building out a full pipeline [ie. dev, staging, prod] until it’s a proven concept and has real users, so you may end up seeing “in-progress” snapshots in varying stages of chaos depending on if / when you click the link)


(Craig Jon Anderson) #4

There is a solution available today, OrgHunter, Inc. combined with Make My Donation, Inc., These two companies are organized and partnered to work together to make it possible for a person to choose and donate online to any of the 1.5 million IRS sanctioned US charities.

The specific issue at this juncture in time is to determine which Dwolla API endpoints will yield the Dwolla equivalent of a “reconciliation statement” that Make My Donation can use to verify deposits (amounts, EIN, partner, any fees, donor ID, etc.) intended for destination charities.

The OrgHunter/Make My Donation solution needs this so that Make My Donation can comply with IRS regulation, issue grants in the correct amounts to the correct destination charities, satisfy accounting and audit requirements, and generally employ sound fiduciary practices.