WHERE WILL FUNDS GO?
-- We are considering a considerable hosting upgrade which will hopefully relieve us of those pesky outages. Without going into details, our current host has changed their support policies internally (I have been told) which makes "recovering" from the outages much longer and far more frustrating to get their "approvals". With the new hosting package, we aim to eliminate this and have enough BW and processing power for possibly other features (e.g. IMs) that we were forced to abandon previously. Our goal is get enough contributions to fund this, which right now is looking at around $60 per month
-- Some of the collected funds (overflow hopefully) will go into our reserves to use in case the contributions drop off so much they do not cover the monthly costs. I currently pay for the monthly hosting but I simply cannot pay for a higher hosting package on a regular basis. Having a reserve will help cover losses -- in the short term if the contributions dry up.
-- The rest of the contributions -- if we have a windfall -- will be used for a content bucket that I will use for prizes for "workshop winners" or "hired content". Rather than commissioning artists for the workshop winner's prize, we'll probably elect to give out cash prizes via paypal. In addition, I want to run some "themed galleries" like I did at SGI. This would require getting artists to "buy-in" and participate, and to do this, we need to make the prizes attractive. Otherwise, artists see contests as simply a ploy to get free commissions (which I understand). However, if the prize is enough (e.g. $150), it might be worth their time. My hope is we get some great ubergirl artists to participate. I've been talking with some members who regularly commission artwork (e.g. TwiceonThursday) and they they have been a great help and resource and will help (hopefully) to recruit artists via their contacts. Keep in mind, it might take months to build up the reserves enough to do this, so I see this happening maybe twice a year (subject to change though). Other content ideas we might use the money for are audio stories or maybe video content we publicly commission.
-- To reiterate, 100% of the money collected goes to the site. Whether it be hosting, software costs, commissioning, or something else. None of us are getting "paid" with money we collect for our time
-- To also reiterate, 100% of the site will be open to users whether they contribute or not. Commissioned content will be made available for everyone, not just the contributing members. We see SWM as a community and, as such, are hoping we all share the contributions and burden$ to some extent.
For anyone wanting to read the discussion on the subject, here is a forum topic, explaining it in a little more detail: here