[R] Supporting R/Membership

Joshua Wiley jwiley.psych at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 17:31:25 CEST 2011

Thanks for the insight, Ben.  I can appreciate not wanting the hassle
of administration, and I suppose there are already sufficient funds
for the fixed costs of stuff like the website.

I like the idea of an intermediary that would handle all the issues
related to donations, non-profit, etc.  Then funds could periodically
be transfered to the R Foundation or if there were specific related
community projects (useR and crantastic come to mind), it could also
support those.  I do not see a reasonable solution to the trust issue,
though.  The only people I think the community could get behind as
trustworthy are the developers, which gets right back to R core
dealing with administration.

On Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 4:50 PM, Ben Bolker <bbolker at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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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Joshua Wiley
Ph.D. Student, Health Psychology
Programmer Analyst II, ATS Statistical Consulting Group
University of California, Los Angeles

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