Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Reader question: "Why do some bloggers ask for donations?"


I got that question from a reader yesterday.  He wondered, "Do you have to pay to blog - is that why bloggers ask for donations?"

My answer, "In 99.9% of the cases, the answer is no.  Most bloggers do not pay for their blogs - it is usually a free service." 

So why do they ask for donations?  Here are a few reasons why I think some bloggers aren't too proud to beg:

  • Intellectual property rights - you read what they write.  They write therefore they are writers - writers get paid.  They just want to get paid.

  • They think they deserve to be supported by others.  (And don't forget to thank them for their services either.)

  • They are out of work and they are begging without looking like it... taking advantage of other people's generosity.

  • They know there is 'great gain in religion' and they are not 'satisfied with a sufficiency'.

  • They need to get to NYC and London more often.

  • They are professional students enjoying la dolce vita.

  • They are very devout Catholics doing the Lord's work.

  • They are going to enter a monastery.

  • They are a monastery.

  • They are going to school to get a better job and can't even pay off their student debt from the first old college try.

  • They are closet freeloaders.

  • They are married with children and their Kmart job doesn't pay enough for them to go to Rome on vacation.

  • They are greedy.

Otherwise I'm not really sure why bloggers ask for donations - I suppose they do it because they can - there's an app for that. 


  1. Oh S***!
    If I asked for any kind of remuneration, I'd be sadly, well....anyway.
    If anyone deserves some kind of compensation, it is you, Mr. Terry.
    For all the crap you have to deal with.
    From all of us.
    All of us.
    Mystic Monk Coffee...well, let's see how FAR that goes (no passive-aggressive stuff here...I'll be absolutely AGGRESSIVE if anybody wants to hear my freakin' side of the story:-)!)
    Mr. Terry. You do us all proud.
    Don't you dare prostitute yourself with Mystic Monk Coffee....I mean it:-)!--I'll sick Miss Cathy and Ray on you...not a pretty picture...uh, no!

  2. +JMJ+

    Meanwhile, in an unapologetically profit-driven corner of the blogosphere . . .

    One really fun thing about book blogs is all the contests for books and swag. Book bloggers give away a chance to win free stuff all the time, in exchange for bigger follower counts, comments, tweets, sidebar promotion, button exchanges . . . you name it! Some even use it for fund raising, when there is a cause particularly dear to them: like Live Aid for Africa!!! (You remember 1985, don't you Terry? Duran Duran!)

    In such a culture of exchange, those little apps that let readers give back on occasion don't seem so out of place. Some book bloggers even become "associates" of online vendors, so that if you buy something from the vendor after clicking on the bloggers' link to that product, the bloggers get a small cut. Not that anyone has ever been able to fund a trip to Europe on these earnings. And many book bloggers state that all donations received will be funneled back into the blog, so that they can afford to send out more free books to lucky contest entrants. It's more than business--it's an ecosystem!

    Granted, if you're giving nothing but your writing, it can seem a little weird to ask for money. (I mean, do you really think your writing is that good?) And I honestly don't think you'd get any if that was all you had to trade. (But I could be wrong . . .) I think that's why it looks like begging or self-entitlement when a Catholic blog does it.

    I'm now "following" dozens of blogs whose reviews I have absolutely no interest in. But they have some cool contests, so I'm in. And you know what? They like the high but meaningless follower count, so our loveless, opportunistic hookup works for them, too. Can you imagine something like this working out in the Catholic blogosphere?

  3. "Intellectual property rights - you read what they write. They write therefore they are writers - writers get paid. They just want to get paid."
    As the daughter of one writer, and the mom of another, this is the reason I understand the best. However I think most professional writers who have a blog use it for a self promotional device, kind of an "infomercial" to sell their real products, which would be books and articles. I wish my Mom had lived to experience the online thing, she would have had a blast.
    I also understand the one, "You are a monastery"; a blog is a good fund raising tool for religious orders (such as Father N.P.'s group!)
    'Fraid the rest of them need a day job (which are scarce these days; that's part of the problem.)
    The things Embretheliel is describing sound like a lot of fun; but I haven't had time to explore them. Got to go get ready for my day job (thank you, God, that I have it!)

  4. I bet someone paid you to write this...

    And I laughed out loud for the "there's an app for that" comment.

  5. I am just so impressed with the quality of the blogs out there. It takes me hours to write just one guest post for my blog buddies. I truly envy the gift of being able to dash off something beautiful, informative, or uplifting every day. I think blogs provide a tidal wave of grace for the Church.

    The blogs I read really comfort and edify me. I can't help but feel grateful to the people who write them and would be happy to give them a donation for their time and effort. (I'd bake them cookies if I knew where to send them!)

  6. I am TOTALLY and LOUDLY laughing out loud and can't stop about your comment "They need to get to NYC and London more often" because I totally know what/who you are talking about and I have sooooo wanted to write a blog post about it.


  7. Protestants that collect money to support their heretical Churches are in effect raping Holy Mother Church.

    People with Catholic blogs and websites should not ask for donations unless they are Priests and Nuns; doesn’t matter, Monastery, Convent, so on.

    We should, with vigor, support the Church. No money? Take out the trash. Vacuum the Priory. Clean the Church pews. Serve coffee in the Parish Hall after Mass.

    I had a DVD given to me by a Priest about the apparition of Our Lady at Quito, Ecuador. He stated that it is urgent the message get out. I placed it on my web site and was quickly notified by the copy right holder I must take it down, as it is his property. His exact words:

    I'm the producer of the DVD, "Our Lady of Good Success: History, Miracles & Prophecies." It is copyright 2008 by XXXXX Media. It was uploaded to Vimeo without permission. Please remove it immediately.

    I wrote back to this convert, who upon conversion automatically became an expert Catholic, and applied to Charity for souls. Here is his answer:

    Marcos - I appreciate and share your concern for souls. If you visit my website www.XXXXXXX.org you will find that I travel the country giving a multi-media presentation on Our Lady of Good Success for free. I also do an EWTN Radio program likewise, gratis. However, I am the father of six homeschooled children and the sale of my CDs and DVDs is our sole means of support. Please remove my video from Vimeo. God bless you for your prompt attention to this matter. (Have you ever been to a ‘Free’ anything?)

    This man has a spiritual advisor. That advisor must be a Protestant. No one should feed their family in this manner.

    When the King of England took over the monasteries, those friends of his he gave the properties to no longer had wives that could bare children. Their bloodlines ended. They are dead in the dirt.

    We should pray for converts that in their ignorance they not go from the ignorance of heresy to the ignorance of Charity.

    Pray for this man and his family.

    I have a web site and a blog.

    My web site is really big, worldwide.

    Only once has someone communicated a desire to donate for the free Rosary audio. I put her in contact with the Mother Superior of those Poor Clares.

    Please say a Hail Mary for that gracious woman.

    She is kinda like the Sinner. She not only thanked Christ, she actually repented. The only one to do so in the whole of the New Testament.

    God bless that woman and others like her.


  8. I've always given it away - that is why I'm poor.

  9. ck - if I send you my address, will you send me cookies?

  10. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Terry - but do you sell your art? Would you?

    Can you make a list of why artists sell their creations instead of just giving them away - beautifying the world for free?


  11. Clare Krishan9:39 AM

    Is blogging not the contemporary version of Journal writers in the demure halcyon days of Jane Austen et al? Samuel Johnson was always in a tight straight until the government of his day recognized he was a national asset and awarded him a pension (way before 20thC universal social welfare). He was worried about accepting it, for fear that it implied a "quid pro quo" of some sort...
    "When Johnson questioned if the pension would force him to promote a political agenda or support various officials, he was told by Bute that the pension "is not given you for anything you are to do, but for what you have done"."

    Seems fair to me - voluntary charity is can only be charity (ie unconditional love) if it is voluntary (ie no strings attached). Reciprocity for a writer's free will offering (her blog) is best shown be readers mutual giving of a free will offering, no? Social commerce isn't tarnished by such exchange, only by imposition of coercive conditions upon such association.

  12. Clare Krishan9:41 AM

    oops, mea culpa, missing citation:

  13. +JMJ+

    Oh, wow. It's "Lisa" again! (Remember the good old days when she was "Ellen M"?)

    Terry, you can't write a perfectly reasonable post about bloggers and donations without her taking it personally and trying to hit you where (she thinks) it hurts.

  14. Lisa - yes I do sell my art. I have also given very much of it away for next to nothing or for free.

    I think many artists would rather give their work gratis - but they have to buy materials - which are very expensive, they also need food, clothing and shelter, and when they get old they need medication to keep them alive. Many do not have health or dental insurance.

    But if you are really interested in purchasing something,you can email me with your question - my email address is in my profile.

  15. LOL! E - that's 'your' girl? So funny! And I gave her a serious answer.

    Look how naive I am - I thought she was being polite - sometimes I never know when I'm being set up.

  16. +JMJ+

    Yeah, she's "my" girl! =P But now that I've given up Catholic blogging, she can be yours! The next time someone demands how much money you make from your canvases, you'll know who it is.

  17. Anonymous10:05 AM

    I don't know who E or Ellen M are.

    I also don't know why I was attacked.

    I don't blog nor do I contribute to bloggers. Don't have the money too. I'm not demanding anything of Terry. I was just curious about the difference between a writer and a visual artist and why it's bad for one to ask for money - if he chooses - and it's okay for another.

    I find it weird for bloggers to ask for money. I don't like priests asking for money to feed their birds. But on a most basic level of principle I don't see the difference between a blogger asking for a donation for the time they spend on writing and someone selling a rosary they made on Etsy.

    Just trying to understand that's all.

    But I guess that's not allowed here. Sorry to intrude on the club.


  18. I apologize Lisa - I was just having fun here - but obviously this is very serious for many people. I don't care if people ask for donations or sell their work, online or on the street. My post was meant as a fun response to a friend's question.

    Not a big deal.

  19. +JMJ+

    I'm sure Terry doesn't know why he was attacked by you, either, Lisa.

    I'll expect your usual barrage of hatemail tonight to confirm that this is, indeed, "Ellen M" (aka "Janice Wilson"). ;-)

    But you're not going to send it after this, are you?

  20. There is one more reason people ask for donations that TN did not mention - some blogs have very high traffic and exceed the free bandwidth limits of any provider, and have to pay for their bandwidth. Some of these guys have pretty elaborate hardware setups to keep their blogs running, and that can run into quite a bit of money, too. I used to be part of a forum whose bandwidth cost about $3000 per year. It was user supported, and we all ponied up from time to time.

  21. Ah Terry,
    all these people asking you things.

    You and others commenting can read, ignore, berate or support my reason by reading this page donate for the record, no one has given a dime since I put it up.

    Yes, and I am out of work again too, for the umpteenth time since converting but shouldn't be anyone's concern for donating and I don't make it one.

    There y'be.

  22. Is there really something wrong when someone sells books and/or DVDs about religious topics to support their families and themselves?

    I mean, this includes so many writers and teachers, from the von Hildebrands to Peter Kreeft to Scott Hahn, to Mark Shea, etc. These people are not getting filthy rich, but are using their God-given talents to support themselves and their families and to glorify God.

    So no one except religious are allowed to write or produce movies on religious topics? Huh?

    If I start teaching religion at a high school, am I not allowed to have a salary? [sarcastic]

  23. I'm just pushing random buttons here folks. Owen - if I had extra cash - actually if I had cash - I'd be your patron. Mercury - I'd buy anthing you are selling. I just have no money. I'd support everyone if I was rich.

  24. I'm just pushing buttons back.

  25. Hahaha - I'm not selling anything, just taking up for writers I admire.

    But I do think some bloggers who are also authors depend on donations to support their families because they work full time as authors.

    I don't like the idea of asking for cash on blogs, but I can't see a difference between that and writing a book and selling it (if it's a well-researched and well-written blog).

    Terry, you could write a "Mass Chat" book, with that cigarette-smoking prelate n the cover ...

  26. I was also replying to posts seeming to equate the writing of religious books and the producing of religious movies by laypeople as a means of earning a livelihood as somehow sinful against charity. That's a heady charge, indeed.

    Is the implication that all people who have a talent, whether for writing, for art, for movie production, for teaching - this should all be done free of charge? This would be making quite a judgment on several laypeople doing a great service.

    They are certainly not "raping the church".

  27. Ah, the cynic knows the price of everything...

    Artists and bloggers are analogous, some are talented, others not and very occasionally, talented artists are remunerated for their created efforts, but more often than not, they die in relative obscurity, like Gaudi.

  28. Yes - Gaudi is rather obscure... his masterpiece consecrated by a reigning pontif and his cause for beatification going forward.

  29. 4mercy10:21 AM

    So I guess I am the only one who charges for my facebook statuses???

    To the one commenter...really? You are having trouble seeing the difference between paying a blogger and paying for art? The writer deserves to get paid for his/her work if he writes a book, play, movie, etc. He/she should not get paid for mere passing thoughts he randomly types down.
    An artist deserves to be paid for his paintings, sculptures, statues etc...He/she does not sell his doodles on the side of a memo pad near the phone.
    Not really that confusing. That said, I too am astonished at some bloggers ability to write something new and inspirational daily! They are a great gift to the Church.

  30. Terry, please enlighten me about that sculpture illustrated in the photo. When I first saw it, I thought, wow, what a wonderful contemporary version of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It must be Purgatory because it has those Georgia O'Keeffe-sized flowers growing in it.

  31. Eve - I grabbed the photo without attribution - I'm sorry - I'll try to find the source. It is a cool purgatory image too - but it was about asking for donations.

  32. +JMJ+


    Well, to be fair, there's a story about a woman coming up to Picasso and asking him to "doodle" something on a napkin for her. He did--and when she tried to take it, he charged her a huge amount of money. She was stunned, saying, "That took you only a few minutes!" He replied, "No, it took me ____ years!"

    The impact of that anecdote falls flat because I can't remember the exact number of years in that one-liner. (I'm a lay person when it comes to art, so Picasso's reply really floored me, but I'll leave it to artists like Terry and Paul Stilwell to say whether Picasso knew his own worth or was just being an ass.)

    And I don't think there's anything wrong with bloggers asking for donations, either. (See my PayPal button on my own blog!) But calling Terry a hypocrite for this random "blog doodle" is hysterical.

  33. It goes "that took me 80 years and 15 minutes..."

    http://goo.gl/95INM I keep it in my file of ready quotes though it doesn't seem to matter for my little drawings and my donate button but then it could be argued I am not Picasso and I would have nothing to day in my defense.

  34. 4mercy

    I didn't mean bloggers where people just put up random comments. I meant those who post long, well-researched material (to be fair, most of these kinds of guys, like Dave Armstrong or Jimmy Akin, do sell much of their material as books).

    I don't mean guys who just write random thoughts. Like I said, I'm uncomfortable with it, but I see how it can in some cases make sense.

  35. "Yes - Gaudi is rather obscure... his masterpiece consecrated by a reigning pontif and his cause for beatification going forward."

    He's not obscure at all, today, but during his life, he was regarded with a little bit of contempt and lived a life of poverty. When he was run over by a tram while crossing the street, they took him to a beggar's hospital. Upon discovering that it was Gaudi, ashamed, the people of Barcelona tried to move Gaudi to a better hospital and regret, sadness, pity and sympathy poured down on the great man who didn't think his Cathedral would be finished, ever, if not for another hundred years and more.


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