*Brainstorm!* How do we get more regular donors?

During the lead up to the launch of the COBOL track, and inspired by the GoBridge thing, I made a couple of informal representations to members of COBOL vendors/trainers. It might have made more impact at the time if it had been more formal and with the backing Exercism itself.

@rhinotastic 's idea has legs. I’ve been mentoring some COBOL students recently and there’s definitely skill out there. That said, one doesn’t want Exercism to become a pawn/mouthpiece of MicroFocus or IBM, but @iHiD has done a great job of maintaining independence so far.

Hi there - this topic caught my eye as a member of GoBridge, where we work to provide donations to the Go track. I’m still reading through these ideas. But wanted to share a few ideas as well. Apologies in advance for any duplicates or previously attempted ideas.

@iHiD you don’t have to share the exact details but I am curious about the goal when you say “In the next 12 months, we need to get to 2,500 active monthly donors to survive.” Is this a goal to get to a particular monetary value you need to hit? Or do you need the 2500 donors to donate X dollars on a monthly basis?

A few ideas I have based of my interactions with Exercism and meetup groups.

  • @rhinotastic idea about reaching out to other foundations to sponsor a track relevant to their foundation or technology is a good one. Just want to double down on that one :smile:

  • I notice the donate call to action is hidden under the more drop down in the nav bar. Have you considered adding it directly to the nav-bar to grow awareness?
    Exercism is a great learning platform and I’ve come across many users who talk about its usage to level up and train members of their team. Having the donate option visible may help.

  • Related to the donation page, maybe adjusting the pre-selected donation amounts on the donation page to $1, $5, $16, $32 could help draw users to donate to the cause.
    I have no proof on this but I think that having the pre-selected value set so high can make a small contribution like $1 or $5 seem insignificant. A recurring $16 a month is no easy feat but $1 may be a bit more doable.

  • Have a monthly or quarterly sponsored track where an organization or individual who really likes the platform can donate and have their logo and short bio show up on the track.

  • Does the funding work to cover the cost of infrastructure running the Exercism platform? If so, would some cloud providers be willing to provide compute resources and funding for the platform. This is a nice story to hear about Company X providing resources for the Exercism learning platform.

Job listings might indeed be an idea to get another source of funding.
There are plenty of examples where this worked (StackOverflow, HackerRank, PragmaticEngineer Newsletter, etc.

New user here. +1 to price-pointing, and multiple tiers of it.

Apparently, there is no easy way to setup recurring donations without also subscribing to Insiders. (>=$10)

What I tried:

  1. Click on “Enjoying Exercism? We need your help to survive…”
  2. The only option there is “Donate to Exercism to access Insiders”
  3. Click that (try anyways), and input $5. The submission button is ghosted out, and you will get error:
Please note: The minimum donation amount for Insiders Access is $10.00. Thank you for your kind support!

I don’t need/want Insiders, I have some life stuff that discourages going to $10, and I already donate $5 to FCC. (Maybe when I get further along, or if/when Insiders offers something I want, I can reconsider)


  1. So If there’s a way to input $5 somewhere, please show me.
  2. UPDATE/EDIT: Point the “Enjoying Exercism? We need your help to survive…”* link to page that offers you a choice between becoming an Insider, or just making a non-Insider donation… the link iHid provided below…
  3. Add a “Support us” link under the Contribute menu.
  4. Consider adding to Insiders: Team projects.
    ((I’d pay more for that! :slight_smile: Offer simple 2-person projects with a division of labor… then grow it as far as you like… a backend project with someone else doing front-end. Or tracks grow to include Ansible, OpenFAAS, mobile development, partner with OpenMetal for project hosting, etc.))
    TL;DR: this idea could be a simple bite-sized feature, or a whole direction of features and tracks…

cheers, love the site.

1 Like

Here :blue_heart:

Here :blue_heart:

…and, done! :smile:


One more data point: My use of Exercism is very sporadic. That is, I will go weeks/months without doing anything on it, and then I’ll have some free time (or motivation) and will spend some time doing exercises.

The reason this is significant is that I have a huge mental block around paying a monthly subscription for something I don’t use consistently. (This goes for all subscription services, which I guess may explain why I don’t subscribe to a whole lot of things.)

I think what would help would be a more detailed understanding what Exercism needs. “2500 active monthly donors” is a great start and kudos for being so transparent with the funding goals, but for folks who won’t/can’t purchase a recurring subscription, what’s the equivalent? Have you broken out that 2500 number into “people who buy a subscription” and “ad hoc donations”? If so, what does that breakdown look like in terms of people and dollars (pounds)?