Proposal for donation link in Thunderbird 31

Axel Grude (Axel) axel.grude at
Tue Nov 19 09:52:44 UTC 2013

On 18/11/2013 21:49, Kent James wrote:
> (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).
I am definitely for this, and would further propose a yearly repetition (or whenever 
majorVer changes, whatever comes first).

One tricky point: Also, these donations should probably (or at least initially) be 
framed in a way to not weaken the non-profit status of projects - I would 
like some more opinions on this. My understanding is that if Tb was openly 
"for-profit" Mozilla would have a problem with hosting it. In any case, hold on to the 
brand name (Thunderbird).

We definitely should point out these points to our users:

1) Mozilla doesn't support Thunderbird with full-time development effort

2) However Mozilla still is interested in hosting and helping with security issues

3) Most [all?] major innovation, and a lot of the bugfixes [show count of fixes since 
last major Version] have been made by contributors

4) point out that Thunderbird is one of the few mail clients that supports a 
persistent tabbed interface (remembers tabs) plus Addons support, and in this respect 
is on par with Firefox.

5) Show the users that more innovation is necessary, and planned. E.g. [point to 3 

Obviously also offer one-time donation (with >10$ values). Details to be discussed.

> 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.
IMO a subscription service would be a great move. I would hope we could piggyback 
Addons subscriptions at a later stage.

> 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 think Lightning development should benefit from the money taken in as it is now 
part of the mail client(?). Other core Addons that are bundled during installation 
(CompactHeader?) possibly could as well.
> 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.
+1  !
> 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.
+1, but I agree early days.

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