The rise and fall of donations to various programs is one of those things that I have to admit keeps me awake at night. One things I've noticed is that donations beget donations, so that a program that is getting a lot of money keeps getting more and more. At the same time, a lack of donations begets a lack of donations.
Audience size matters, but isn't the dominant factor.
Awesomeness of the content matters, but again, it isn't the dominant factor.
There is simply a tipping point where lots of people donate to something and then everyone
wants to say "Hey, I donated to that" and in come the donations.
One of the greatest examples of this is the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Back in 2009, when it launched as part of the International Year of Astronomy, it had donors jumping forward to donate to almost everyday, and the program occasionally had multiple people wanting the same day. It is now 2014. It is now 2014, and 365 Days of Astronomy is now a Beyond International Year of Astronomy project. The audience is larger than it has ever been, and the daily content is a really good and diverse mix from all across astronomy. That said - donations are less than they have every been. Now that it isn't 2009... donating to an IYA project just isn't trendy. Listening... People listen. They download the app. Astronomy learning is going strong. They just don't donate.
Filed under: #ThingsIdontunderstand