In a nutshell

Micropatronage: The revenge

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.

A second kick at the can

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.

You can read about the two main tasks in this phase, learn how to donate, and learn how you can support this activity at no cost, as by posting banner ads on your site (we’ve got new ones).

Twice is once too many?

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.

The Open & Closed Project

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.

What I need to get this thing going

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.

What your support will mean

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.

Additional facts

There are no door prizes
No trinkets or gifts are provided in return for donations. (However, if you donate to my fund, the Tea Makers will send you a desktop wallpaper image on request.)
There is no money-back guarantee
If you don’t like the way I’ve spent your contribution, you don’t get your money back.
Donors will not be identified
Donor lists will not be published. This doesn’t prevent anyone from talking about it on their own sites. Everyone gets a thank-you note.
There will be regular updates
I will publish regular updates on the micropatronage drive, the Open & Closed Project, and what I’m doing in general. You can subscribe to an RSS feed (XML) devoted solely to such news.
You can show support without donating
If you don’t want to donate, or cannot do so, no problem. You can show support by running our amusing banner ads. You can also plug this project on your site and on community sites.

How can you help?

Donate if you wish. You can also post on your site one of the numerous banner ads that are available (cleverly written by me, nicely designed by Antonio Cavedoni). ¶ Questions?