Here are a few remarks on the SWDb's funding situation, my goals for 2016 and some suggestions and notes on how the SWDb can best be supported.
How is the SWDb structured?
It is no legal entity, but a personal (hobby) project by @Admin. That means for example that bigger donations are not tax-deductible, it also means it's not a non-profit or foundation in the legal sense that could employ people, have bookkeeping and all that.
How is the SWDb currently financed?
Most costs are covered by an unsteady flow of commissions paid by Amazon. It works like this: if someone uses our Amazon links on the SWDb and then makes a purchase, we earn a commission fee. This sort of revenue is unpredictable, subject to ups and downs. It helps cover most of the regular cost, like hosting and domains. Since @Admin also runs Tarantino.info, the GCDb, and a few other sites on the same Amazon account, it's not a precise science. The other major revenue would be donations. There is preciously little of them. All the work that goes into the SWDb, not just by Sebastian but all the other voluntary contributors is of course unpaid. Same goes for larger investments, upgrades, marketing, etc. which Sebastian pays out of pocket.
What about Sponsorship?
I have tried again and again to find companies willing to dish out a fixed sum for a logo placement or something, but most of the relevant companies just don't do that kind of marketing spending for activities that don't return a clear, measurable success. And the banners we currently have do not work so well either. It would still be very ideal, since it would introduce a kind of reliance and steadiness into our funding.
An example calculation for donations
Our Facebook page has a bit over 20.000 followers. If only 5% of them (that is 1000 people) donated just 1 Euro/Dollar, the SWDb would be comfortably financed for an entire year at least. If only 1% of them (that is 200 people) donated just 5 EUR, that would work just as well. So just in numbers, one would think it shouldn't be so hard to make the SWDb more sustainable, but so far last year's fundraising drive (early 2015) helped a lot, but there is not nearly a steady stream of small donations, which are far better than very few big ones.
Where do we stand?
Now, just to make it clear, I think the SWDb is good to go as it is right now, it's just not a very "safe" or sustainable model in the long run, as it would always have to fall back on my personal finances to make up for any shortfalls. It would be so much better if we'd be set for at least a year ahead, that would also give us room for investments in infrastructure, design, outreach, new things, maybe travel funding, some marketing, prices for great reviews, I don't know.
I've been considering a few things. Once would be to actually incorporate the SWDb as a non-profit corporation, or a non-profit association or even a foundation. But all of that would require a decent amount of people putting in committments and in the case of the corporation or foundation also money. It would come with costs attached (mostly legal fees and red tape) and would require untangling the SWDb from my other web endeavors, which to some degree might have covered shortfalls, so once we untangle, the financial unsustainability might become a lot clearer, and of course then the tax man would have a closer look.
Another option would be to turn to outside help and maybe hand the SWDb over, for example to something like a national cinema foundation (one in Italy, or something like the BFI in the UK, etc). That would mean loss of control over this project that is more our "child" than just a plain hobby.
Another option along these lines is to ask well-off individuals if they would be interested in becoming benefactors or maecenas. Tarantino, Frayling, living Spaghetti Western actors, directors or producers come to mind, etc.
How can non-financial support look like?
The best support has two faces: One, personal contributions on the SWDb (additions in text, pictures, links, videos etc) or activity in the forum. The SWDb just needs to get better, that support is worth a lot more than money. Two, spreading the word. The more people use the SWDb, the more famous it gets, the more it establishes itself, the better Amazon commission revenue will be, the more likely it is that fundraising drives work, and the more attractive it becomes for sponsors.
How can you donate?
You can visit the Donate page, linked on top of the SWDb Forum and main site, or just PayPal something directly to email@example.com
So, I wrote these lines just to get some ideas out and maybe trigger a debate around other ideas that you might have, or maybe some of you weren't really clear about how this looks like from my end. I have tons of ideas for 2016 and beyond, we've already accomplished so much!
2015 saw major redesigns and upgrades on a technical and visual level that have already made a huge step for us. I think there is more in it for this great community. I welcome your feedback, criticism, ideas, laudations, etc...