In November 2006, I put out a call for micropatronage donations. The purpose was to pay for my time to separately fundraise for my accessibility research project, the Open & Closed Project. I made sure there were zero-cost options available. Over 250 donors contributed nearly $6,000. It really helped while I worked on raising money for the Project. I filed more applications for funding than I anticipated.
And nothing happened.
So I’m trying something else. And this time it’s personal.
Now, in October ’07, I’m putting out a second call for support – again with options for people who do not wish to contribute, and with new plans.
The proposition is the same: If you’d like to donate, you’re paying for my time while I work on setting up the Open & Closed Project. But now what I’ll be doing falls more in the realms of lobbying and policy than simple fundraising.
Micropatronage as a concept is still rather new. It hasn’t been attempted too many times. My case is one of the few that is a flat-out success. Nonetheless, micropatronage is another way of asking for money, or, viewed more harshly, begging for it. The advantage of micropatronage is that it makes small donations unembarrassing. (You can’t really hand your friend five bucks in the real world. Yet you can PayPal five bucks no problem.) But serial micropatronage can result in its own embarrassment.
In recognition of this, here you are encouraged to donate if and only if:
In other words, I am setting up a higher threshold for inconvenience. If donating is even slightly inconvenient, don’t! But please do consider posting a message or a banner ad on your site. I appreciate support from anyone, but only people who can really afford it should donate.
If this turns out to be one micropatronage drive too many, I’ll accept that. But that will be up to you to decide.
I’ve been working for four years to set up the Open & Closed Project, which will do a couple of rather big things:
This will be an independent research project that will, to the extent possible, avoid government funding. We also won’t be under the thumb of industry; while we will seek industry funding, they won’t control the agenda (yet again unlike Web accessibility).
The Project has been discussed in public several times – see documentation. We’ve also received support letters from companies and organizations in four countries. And – crucially – we have an agreement in place (verbal at this point) with a university who will work as a research partner.
You may be aware that I have published original accessibility research already, with more such projects up my sleeve. I also have the largest accessibility clipping file in the country.
About $7 million Canadian over the life of the project. First-year startup costs are about $500,000. In the grand scheme of things, these are small figures. But raising even that pittance of money hasn’t been going very well thus far. With all the distractions involved in keeping a “consulting” business afloat, I have not had a solid block of time to devote to fundraising for the Project.
If you make a donation to this micropatronage project, you are supporting me and my plans. The only thing you need to believe about the Open & Closed Project is that it is a good enough idea to pay me to try to make it happen. You have a chance to provide me with moral support (no less important than money) and small-scale financial support (also important). Either of those would constitute a significant vote of confidence.