Charities and micropayments

One of the great joys of having an iPod I have found is podcasts. I listen to several but one has been a regular, This American Life put out by Chicago Public Radio. At regular intervals, the host starts the podcast with an appeal for donations because of the bandwidth cost of distributing the podcast. It is clearly worthwhile and they really only require about $1 from each subscriber per year to cover their costs. But here is the problem: I’m usually in the car when I hear this and so I rarely remember to make a donation. By the way, when you get to the site, the minimum donation (without writing it in) is $20 which is less of a ‘click and forget’ type thing.

It is clear that there are several things they could do to make this easier. For one, they should have separate iTunes subscriptions for new episodes as opposed to repeats. About a third are repeats so they could avoid a ton of bandwidth costs by just excluding them from iTunes subscriptions.

But more importantly, why don’t they just offer various paid subscriptions alongside the free ones? So if you choose to subscribe rather than just download an episode, you get the ‘pitch’ right then and can make an easy payment through iTunes (with an emailed receipt for tax purposes). I would imagine that they would get their required donations very quickly. (Oh yes, to those thinking why would anyone pay when you can get it for free, this is about making donating easier). Here is a situation where it is the ease of iTunes micropayments that should be taken advantage of. There must be many more.

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