In order to raise money I ask for donations -- I'll explain what they're for further down.
When a member joins they don't have many privileges -- certain parts of the forum are restricted for safety reasons, but after 5 posts these restrictions start to lift. By the time someone has made 40 posts they have the same access as everyone else.
- If a new member makes a donation, we have a paper trail -- we can verify their authenticity and, while not foolproof, get a degree of security about their intentions. Therefore this allows them to bypass the restriction early.
- If an established member makes a donation, nothing happens -- I just relax a bit and feel grateful to be supported. I don't want your financial means to be an advantage to using the site -- money isn't what this is about, even though we clearly need it.
So, if you are new and wondering why you can't access everything -- you are welcome to keep posting to increase your access level. It doesn't take long, but you do have the option to hurry things along.
You don't have to contribute financially; it's up to you.
The current cost of this website is as follows:
£432 a year for hosting on a cloud server - this includes VAT and is now lower than the price we used to pay. Due to database pressure, any server with lower power crashes the website.
Roughly £20 a year for the ukhippy.com domain name (domain prices went up last year).
Roughly £40 a year for a couple of other domain names to protect the site integrity and name.
Estimate of £100 a year for software updates etc. (depending on how much we raise and what is needed).
Sometimes, more whimsical improvements just come out of my own pocket (and time).
For example. last month (September) we raised about £60, so after paying £36 hosting I paid £20 for an addon to automatically resize attachment images, thus making the site easier for phone users.
Later this (and next) year I'll do other site updates so long as we stay afloat -- I continually look for new improvements and try to stay ahead of technology -- but the importance of these will depend on balancing other bills and finances.
I also have a couple of embedded affiliate linking systems that don't really give me much at all -- as most of the "in your face" adverts vanish once people get past a handful of posts.
Over the last 4 years years I've earned less than £18 from Amazon (and yet to reach their payment threshold). I also get about £7-12 a month from Ebay (sometimes less), and have raised about £60 total from Google Adsense since 2011. So, not very much.
The site still owes me money from investments I made years ago, but sod it -- I'm letting go of all that now and moving forwards.
So, donations welcome, but only according to your means and your willingness -- If you don't have money I really don't want you to miss out.
Disclaimer: because of the ongoing costs, and the nature of people's memories and whatnot, I apologise in advance for all future nagging and reminders.