As I stated in the previous post, Clarkesworld Magazine has been accepting donations from readers since our first issue. In that time, we’ve received some, but not many, donations. I had simply inserted this box at the bottom of each story:

Much to my surprise, people weren’t noticing it.  I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s plain.  It’s boring.  Why would you read that box?  If you look at our donations page, you’ll see that I made another mistake.  I preset the donation buttons to $1, $2, and $5. Basically, I told people not to give more than $5.  Even if no one would have given more, it’s a silly restriction to put in place.  The amount should be open-ended and will be in the next update.

If there is one organization that knows how to raise money, it’s PBS.  A few weeks ago, I realized that we should be taking a page from their book.  It fits right in with the FREE STUFF concept.  PBS gives you gifts for various levels of giving.  $50 gets you a book, $100 gets you the DVD, etc…

In my other career, I’ve written grants for schools and pulled in nearly $2 million dollars for my employers. One of the primary rules that I’ve learned from the people who do this for a living is that you NEVER get something unless you ask for it.  You can’t be timid. Politely make your case, ask and you may get want you need. When they do give you money, make sure they find out how you spent it and thank them. You’re trying to cultivate a culture of giving.

Back to PBS.  They’re smart.  You donate $50 and a few months later you have that book.  Each time you see that book, you are reminded that you gave PBS money.  You have a sign of their appreciation and FREE STUFF to make you feel warm and fuzzy… and that’s how you want your donors to feel. 

Clarkesworld will embark on building a PBS model donation page.  The big question is what to give away.  Obviously, I have the stuff we’re doing through Wyrm Publishing, but I can take this a lot further.  I need to talk to our authors and arrange to have some books signed or inscribed.  I think Baen’s Universe had a program where authors tuckerized (had characters/places/things in stories named after them) major supporters.  I’m not sure I could convince someone to do that, but if they offered, I certainly wouldn’t turn them away.  I can also talk to my artists and see about having mousepads, t-shirts, or mugs featuring their covers.  There are many possibilities and I’ve only touched on a handful of them. 

I’m hoping that some of you can add to this list.