The Fundraising Month Finale October 5, 2020 11:25 AM   Subscribe

You’ve donated for it. You’ve waited for it. You’ve (hopefully not, really) dreamed about it. Now you can do it. You can… cortex get his hair cut!

For a total of $480 in additional monthly contributions in the month of September, cortex, in accordance with the pact, has agreed to cut off 9.5 inches of his fabulous mane. It is done. Watch it here.

And this is far from all we did in September! Thanks to your participation, we had a whole month of themed posts, commissioned posts, and chatfilter posts. In addition to the recurring contributions, we raised approximately $4600 in one-time contributions. Thank you all so much! And in case you missed the fun...

Thanks to those who contributed a dream-themed post or engaged with the awesome posts! If you missed it, take a peek at Redstart’s post on lucid dreams and brainwane’s thread featuring a spectacular short story. Check those out, and others using the tag #dreamweek. Theme weeks aren't just a fundraiser-month activity - we're looking forward to doing more soon! If you have any suggestions or theme requests, send them our way via the contact form.

As of 10/4, Jessamyn has made 27 posts on topics suggested by MeFites ranging from small bio posts on people like wunderkind gymnast defector Nadia Comăneci and misunderstood mogul Hettie Green to non-Tuvan throat singing, slime molds and chicken wings!

Chatfilter! Mefites suggested and then voted (with money) on some extremely rare and precious chatfilter topics to be posted to the front page each week. Taz led this effort and Mefites filled the resulting threads with their insights, chatting like champs. Here are the four front-page chatfilter threads in case you missed them:
- cereal confessions
- bathroom ways
- share your recipes
- cat performance reviews

While this was not specifically part of our fundraising goals in September, thank you to all the generous contributors to the BIPOC Advisory Board honorarium fund so far. This helps us to continue to pay honoraria to each board member for each meeting they attend. If you want to help with this, you can do that via the Funding Page. Just send a message via the Contact Form or to and let us know to earmark your contribution for that purpose. Also, here’s a brief update on the first advisory board meeting. More to come!

Thank you to everyone! The money from these fundraising efforts goes to pay site costs like hosting and (primarily) moderation staffing. We very much appreciate folks helping out to keep a site they enjoy alive, both by contributing money and by making posts, comments, and helping build the community.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 11:25 AM (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

"Fierce chin bob" would be a really good user name.
posted by JanetLand at 11:34 AM on October 5, 2020

I'm aware I still have a few posts to go so aniola, majick and taff, thanks for your patience.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

posted by Rhaomi at 12:14 PM on October 5, 2020 [18 favorites]

Prince Valiant for Halloween
posted by rhizome at 12:43 PM on October 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

I dunno, rhizome. I was kind of thinking this guy.

Thanks for being such a good sport about it, Cortex. I think it looks awesome.
posted by angiep at 1:04 PM on October 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Given that those who participate in the BIPOC board will be given a $50 honorarium per meeting, the target board is 10 people per meeting, and the current BIPOC board funds are only $700, will some of the recently raised funds go to making sure the honorarium is available going forward?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2020 [7 favorites]

I dunno, rhizome. I was kind of thinking this guy.

That's pretty good, but what about this, carrying around a plate of french fries?
posted by rhizome at 2:57 PM on October 5, 2020

I was ... hoping? ... wishing? ... expecting secretariat to suddenly fire up a chainsaw behind cortex's back.
posted by terrapin at 4:15 PM on October 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

That haircut moves cortex toward full-on Emo Phillips territory.
posted by hippybear at 4:56 PM on October 5, 2020 [7 favorites]

Also, no offering of dollar totals for amounts raised? I'd be interested to know how much this month-long effort created for the community.

Edit: never mind, I missed it in the FPP. Carry on.
posted by hippybear at 4:57 PM on October 5, 2020

That haircut moves cortex toward full-on Emo Phillips territory.

"Flag.....IT! And mooooOOOVE OOnnn-nuh."
posted by rhizome at 5:56 PM on October 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

That was a fun vid! I watched it mainly to get a good look at the guy who made me cool stuff for a Secret Quonsar gift.
I was not disappointed. You totally look like someone who likes making cool stuff.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:04 PM on October 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'd like to echo filthylightthief's call for more info on the BIPOC advisory board, which seems underfunded as of now. Could you project, through, say the end of 2020, how many meetings you can hold, how many participants, a good honorarium for each participant, and identify that total, and then let us know what the funding gap looks like? Or, did you plan to fund it via the recent donations or new recurring donations?
posted by Miko at 7:52 AM on October 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

I've never seen cortex IRL. My first thought when the video fired up was "wait... is that Steve Aoki?"

New cut looks great, and HOORAY for MeFi funding bumps!
posted by hanov3r at 9:22 AM on October 7, 2020

Following up on the requests which are really center around more transparency about the BIPOC advisory board: who is on the board? I've only served on a few boards (Women's Network, Diversity & Inclusion, etc.) where the composition was public so I assumed that was the norm.
posted by lemon_icing at 10:36 PM on October 7, 2020

A lot of the detailed board stuff is going to be discussed at the second board meeting so we'll talk about it more once we have a few more things nailed down, especially around the degree of confidentiality the board members are comfortable with. (This isn't a board of directors or an internal employee advisory board, so it is going to behave a little differently than a lot of things that people are more familiar with.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:12 AM on October 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

There are a lot of models we’re familiar with, and not just from workplaces but from every kind of human venue doing this sort of work, so I just think we’d appreciate knowing more about the specifics of this one, while certainly understanding if confidentiality of participant identity is what is preferred.

In particular, i think the fundraising could be more productive, and honoraria higher, if a specific and transparent target for that were set. The funds you have described here don’t seem like they will go very far.
posted by Miko at 9:25 PM on October 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this is the best place to bring up, but since the bi-weekly threads have comments closed I don't see any other place to bring it up:

What became of the idea for greater transparency in Metafilter's fundraising? I don't just mean the idea of donating separately for a BIPOC board, I mean the idea of giving supporters options for what projects at the site they wanted to fund, as in:

"We need $XXXX to fund the BIPOC board for a year, and so far we have raised XX%"
"We would need $XXXX to fast track development of tools that allow users to anonymize or fully delete their own posts"
"We are hiring attorneys to nuke the assholes on Twitter who targeted users and mods, estimated fees are $XXXX"

Also, there was also earlier a discussion of ownership models, and how the current single-owner, for-profit structure affected the site's ability to fundraise. Thus there was going to be an internal discussion of alternate modes, for example MeFi as an employee-owned organization, as a community owned-organization, or as a not-for-profit. Was that discussion ever held?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:24 AM on October 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Developing the tech for multiple-bucket fundraising is still ongoing; it's proving to be much more annoying to set up on the Stripe end than just setting up the page would be. Right now the only bucket we'd have would be the BIPOC board project - everything else needs to go to salaries, at our current funding levels - but it's a tool we'd really like to have for future use too.

Cortex has talked to an attorney about alternative ownership models (I feel like there was a MetaTalk comment somewhere about it in the last year or two, but I'm not turning it up) and the short version is that there aren't any that provide enough of an upside to spend our time/effort/lawyer-dollars on right now, even for the ones that are legally possible. It's something we can revisit down the line, if it makes sense to, but right now doing that would delay some much more necessary work that we need to focus on.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:32 AM on October 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

You don't need a technical solution to have fundraising buckets. You just need line item budgeting. Since this is all operating funds anyway, all you need to be able to do is record donor intent connected to the amount. If Stripe's "products" function doesn't do it, Excel can. Even right now, the Donation page callls out the BIPOC Board as a fundable specific project, and says "You can make these and other new projects possible by contributing below and contacting us to let us know how you want us to use your contribution."

It just seems weird that you all haven't set a budget for this and can't or won't give a simple answer about it that might build people's good faith in giving to it. I feel like if its intent is for it to be successful, it would have a robust budget that is as clear to create and as simple to communicate as (number of meetings x number of seats x amount of honorarium), for some time-limited span you could call "Phase I."
posted by Miko at 5:17 PM on October 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

I agree with Miko, and no disrespect to r_n, but I really feel that the financial updates have been very vague. We're just coming off a month with an unprecedented push for donations, with barely any inside look as to what this money is doing for the site.

To be constructive, here are some questions that I think the users deserve clear, numerical answers to:

1) What exactly is the yearly operating expense for the site in total? Even roughly speaking, is it a five digit number? Low six digit? High six digit? How much -- expressed as an amount, not a percentage -- would this site need to raise in donations to say "Our operating budget for the year has been met, we can now discuss additional projects"?

2) For how many months is the BIPOC Board fully funded, assuming bi-monthly meetings? Three months? Six months? A year? If not, how much do you need in order to say "We can now solicit donations for other projects"?

Now, moving away from numerical questions:

Miko is correct above, if I can send you $20 and then shoot an e-mail saying "Earmark this money for the BIPOC Board" why can't I send money and send an email saying "Earmark this for [public moderation log/user deletion controls/unlimited breadsticks]"? Why does Stripe enter into it, when I'm already giving you the benefit of the doubt w/r/t earmarking for the BIPOC Board? You are literally saying on the donation page "You can make these and other new projects possible by contributing below and contacting us to let us know how you want us to use your contribution."

Other. New. Projects.

What other user-requested projects are you considering? Is there a poll circulating? Would it be useful to begin with an estimate of how much other user-requested projects would cost?

I can't pledge any money to this site without a clear understanding of (a) where the money is needed, (b) how much money is needed, and (c) what the money can do once basic "keeping the lights on" fees are met. I really hope these questions are answered either before or during the next financial update.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 6:36 PM on October 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

The answer is dead simple, The Pluto Gangsta. Right now every dollar that we get in donations that *isn't* earmarked for the BIPOC board is going to keep the lights on. Any projects we undertake are being accomplished with current staffing and resources. We're a long way from having a surplus that we could set up as a user-selected project resource.

I want to be very clear - Metafilter isn't a charity, and we're not asking for donations. We're a for-profit business whose current funding model is a mix of ad revenue and "pay what you want" user funding. If you're using and enjoying the services the business provides, we very much appreciate you deciding to pay for them. We'll continue to try to improve the services we offer and broaden our customer base, and we're committed to continuing to offer those services to everyone regardless of means. If ultimately the services we're offering don't bring in the revenue necessary to pay for them, then we'll have to adapt. This is the situation basically every service on the internet that used to be funded by ample ad revenue is facing.

In the past, we've made several rounds of appeals to the community of the "do us a favor, bail us out of this hole" variety, and it's my considered opinion that we've stretched that as far as it will go. It's my goal to move our fundraising to the "hey you like this place and use it a lot, remember? So it'd be cool if you paid for it if you can, thanks" model. So I don't see a very strong business case for treating it like a nonprofit and exposing all our financials to justify a fundraiser. The justification is that we're providing a service that people are using. If they're happy with that service, we make the case that (in this capitalist hellscape) the right thing to do is to support it financially. If they're not happy, then our job is to concentrate on improving the service.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:27 AM on October 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

So it'd be cool if you paid for it if you can, thanks" model. So I don't see a very strong business case for treating it like a nonprofit and exposing all our financials to justify a fundraiser.

The case is that I'm not going to give to a non-transparent cause. I'm seeing and hearing that you don't have enough to actually sustainably fund this BIPOC.advisory board. You'd like more. But you won't say how much is needed or how close you are. And that, to me, is selling that board and its intent pretty short.

I'm not sure why the big secrecy is necessary, but the secrecy alone is the reason I'm not a giver. I understand you don't want to become a nonprofit, but you don't need to be a nonprofit to say "the budget of our business is X and we need Y% of that to come from user support."

It's also just not quite the right ring to talk about "the services we provide" when actually it is the users contributing the value, and the services exist to enable the users to do that. Is the "service" online publishing? That's not rare any more. If the "service" is really a community, transparency builds community. It's always been true. If you're finding community members peeling off, and taking their support with them, this is a big reason why.
posted by Miko at 7:29 PM on October 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

« Older brainwane for MVP   |   *Comic Book Store Guy voice* "Ooh, I've wasted my... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments