Yet another donation option: Sprinklepenny

By Steve Outing

Whether traditional news publishers believe that user/reader donations represent a viable revenue stream or not, entrepreneurs are hot on the idea, judging by the number of variations of solutions under development for getting people to voluntarily give money to support websites and blogs. I’ve begun using this, my personal blog, to try out the early versions of some of these upcoming and new services.

The latest to add to my list is SprinklePenny, a UK company that’s developed a service that is, frankly, very close to the model of Kachingle (which I’ve profiled previously).

The idea is that a user wishing to support free content made available by a variety of news sites, blogs, and other websites signs up for a $5/month (or a higher amount, if desired) SprinklePenny account, which is auto-billed to a credit card each month. Then whenever said SprinklePenny member visits a site that participates in the network (like this blog), the visit is counted and the $5 is split up at the end of each month depending on how often the member visited various SprinklePenny-enabled sites.

The primary difference between it and Kachingle is subtle, but perhaps important. Kachingle asks that Kachingle paying members click on a “medallion” when they see one on a site they like and wish to financially support. SprinklePenny credits every enabled site with a visit credit, and thus every site that a member visits receives some money from SprinklePenny members who drop by. But if you don’t want to support a site that you visited, you can remove it from the list of sites that receive some of your money.

In other words, Kachingle asks you to “opt-in” to financially supporting a site. SprinklePenny has you by default financially supporting every enabled site you visit, but you can “opt-out” for any visited site that you really don’t want to support.

It will be interesting to see which of these does better than the other. I suspect it will depend on the marketing plan of each company; the one that gets in front of the largest audience of potential members likely will be the winner.

I do see a potential problem with the SprinklePenny approach: Say, I am duped into visiting a site that I find offensive (perhaps by a Twitter recommendation) and it’s a SprinklePenny publisher; then I’ll have to actively turn off my support for that site.

With Kachingle, I’m in control of which sites I financially support; I have to click the Kachingle medallion to support a site. While I like that better, it’s an extra step that I don’t have to take if I’m supporting free content with SprinklePenny. So will I remember to click those medallions are thus start sending my favorite sites money?

Both companies will tell you their approach is the best one. We’ll see in time.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

2 Responses to "Yet another donation option: Sprinklepenny"

  1. John Hunter
    John Hunter 6 years ago .Reply

    I agree with your statement about a problem with defaulting to payment for a site you didn’t like. But, in practice, I really think having to click to donate is a bigger problem. Yes the first problem is worse when it happens. But my guess is it would happen infrequently. But truthfully I would rather a service just take care of seeing how much I use the various sites for me (instead of me having to click).

    I just added sprinklepenny to my site to try it out yesterday. It seems the biggest problem is too small a user base. The actual web site and process was better than flattr or Kachingle for me as a site owner. My guess is it won’t work well – unless they can greatly build up the user base.

  2. John Hunter
    John Hunter 6 years ago .Reply

    Well after a week it didn’t seem to work. Now that it didn’t provide any money I expected (I figured it was something I would have to work at to get people interested…). But the widget appeared on the site but their statistics never showed any visitors and they never replied to any support requests – so I ended my experiment.

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