[R] Supporting R/Membership

Ben Bolker bbolker at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 01:50:14 CEST 2011

Spencer Graves <spencer.graves <at> structuremonitoring.com> writes:

> On 9/25/2011 9:57 AM, Berend Hasselman wrote:
> > Joshua Wiley-2 wrote:
> >> So we have at least three people interested, maybe not call for a
> >> totally new system.  What about a PDF form that could be filled out
> >> digitally, saved, encrypted using the R Foundation's public key, and
> >> emailed?  GPG keys are free, and I can make a fillable PDF.  Is that
> >> sufficiently secure?  Are there risks I am missing?  In fact, attached
> >> is a sample of how the form could work.  For the overall signature,
> >> you could just retype your name, but for the credit card, the field is
> >> a digital signature.
> >>
> >> I know what you mean about being uncomfortable sending credit card
> >> details by mail---I'd almost just as well send it in plain text via
> >> email as plain text via post.
> >>
> >> Anymore thoughts?  I did check out Paypal again, even for a nonprofit,
> >> there is a 2.2% transaction fee + additional fees for currency
> >> conversion + international fees.
>        Just brainstorming:
>              1.  What are the charges for alternative methods of 
> payment?  Josh said Paypal charges 2.2 percent.  What about various 
> credit and debit card clearing services plus paper checks and electronic 
> funds transfers?
>              2.  In which locations and currencies does the R Project 
> incur costs?
>              3.  Answers to these two questions could help us design a 
> system that makes it easy for people to contribute while also maximizing 
> the portion of the money contributed that actually supports the R 
> Project (minimizing losses to bank charges).  [Getting this information 
> is not easy, because financial institutions have innovated to increase 
> the complexity of the services they offer, because this makes it easy 
> for them to charge higher fees then they could if consumers could more 
> easily compare what are essentially commodity services.  See, e.g., 
> Stiglitz 2010 Freefall, Norton, esp. ch. 6.]
>        My biases are to avoid if possibly the large multinational banks, 
> because the evidence I've seen (e.g., from Stiglitz and others) is that 
> the largest banks are primary drivers of political corruption and 
> instability in the global financial markets.  My biases tend toward 
> credit unions, at least some and perhaps all of which are officially 
> owned by their customers and are legally constrained in their lending 
> practices to avoid the most risky and destabilizing types of 
> investments.  However, those are issues largely independent of what the 
> R Project can do to maximize revenue from contributions and ease of 
> managing its finances while minimizing losses to bank charges.
>        Best Wishes,
>        Spencer
> >>
> >> Josh
> >>
> > I would also be interested.
> > A similar pdf form for donations could also be considered.
> >
> > It's most likely I would want to transfer money directly into the R bank
> > account.
> >
> > Berend
> >
> >
> > --

  Just a few cents on this topic. By extrapolation from previous
conversations with one R-core member and general observation of the R
scene, and at the risk of putting words in their mouths (they can
always speak up if they disagree), R-core are not tremendously
interested in increasing the stream of donations. They would be
unlikely to object, but because almost any major expansion of revenue
would mean a lot more time doing R administration (i.e. figuring out
how to spend the money and spending it), my impression is that they feel that
getting lots more money would be more trouble than it's worth. 

Of course, anyone else could set up an "R bank" (they could then send
the money to the R foundation, or alternatively disburse it in some
sensible way as specified in advance or requested by the donor --
e.g. administering a bounty system, giving grants, etc.)  -- if people
trusted them not to run off with the money. But then whoever it was
would have to deal with all the administration, establish non-profit
status to avoid tax burden, etc ...

  http://www.r-project.org/foundation/donations.html states that the R
foundation is not registered as a non-profit organization in the US,
which might make it difficult to get Paypal non-profit rates (I don't
know how they go about deciding on the status of a foreign non-profit

  My own personal feeling is that if anyone can figure out how to do
this, even a 2 or 3% banking overhead would be worth it -- 97% of
something is a lot more than 99% or 100% of nothing!

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