Proposal for donation link in Thunderbird 31

Kent James rkent at
Mon Nov 18 21:49:29 UTC 2013

(This is a resend after earlier copies seemed to fail)

As many of you know, I am a firm believer that Thunderbird needs sources 
of income to ensure its future.

I would like to propose that for Thunderbird 31, we add a donation user 
interface and mechanism that requests an annual donation of $10 from 
users. This should be something that appears prominently once after the 
upgrade, and users have a choice to act/postpone/or ignore (until next 
major release).

My own recent experience with ExQuilla is that there are plenty of users 
who are quite happy to pay $10 per year for email functionality. I 
believe that we could design a tasteful donation mechanism to capture 
this willingness from users that would be acceptable to the vast 
majority of users, and generate substantial income. I would guess that 
Thunderbird would earn several hundred thousand dollars per year this way.

The question will arise, what do we need income for? That deserves a 
separate thread, but here are some quick comments on that.

1) I don't think that we can assume that Mozilla will continue to 
subsidize Thunderbird for the foreseeable future, as the nature of 
Thunderbird does not mesh with their core mission of making everything 
an HTML app. Thunderbird operations takes substantial funds to support.

2) There are many ways that we could provide more substantial support to 
core contributors that are short of providing income for living. That 
would include providing equipment, or travel expenses to conferences.

3) I believe that the major Thunderbird contributors should get together 
at least annually for an event that is part work and part play.

4) Certain important but non-development functions are difficult to 
support with volunteers. There might be a role for contractors in some 
of those areas, if there was income available.

5) I of course am not opposed to finding mechanisms for core developers 
to earn a living at their Thunderbird work, should the project learn to 
develop enough income that such a mechanism was ever possible. But we 
are far from that now.

Could I have some comments on this?


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