LFGSS survives by donations

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  • Background

    LFGSS is huge, it's one of the largest cycling websites on the internet. We serve over 240,000 users per month, and over 1 million visits/sessions by those users. In total, we serve in excess of 1 million web pages per week, send 50,000 emails per month (notifications of new comments, replies) and push more than 1TB of web traffic per month. LFGSS is huge.

    LFGSS is also influential, being key to many people involved in cycling, bring people together, changing lives, and campaigning for better cycle infrastructure and investment.

    LFGSS is also fun, enabling people to do things they never would, inspiring them, or just giving giggles on grey days.

    All of this is done for free, for no profit.

    The costs

    It costs over £530 (£690 as of October 2016 due to massive change in USD currency exchange rates and the addition of a new authentication system) per month to run LFGSS. For what is achieved with this money, the size and popularity of the site, this is extraordinarily cheap. But due to currency exchange rates and the sheer size of the forum, the costs to run LFGSS are rising.

    How LFGSS is funded

    Most of our costs are covered by donations, approximately 2/3 of all costs are covered by people like you who find value in the forum and choose to give a little money to help the forum survive.

    The other 1/3 of our money comes from affiliates. These are shops and services whom are talked about in comments, and when someone visits a site like Chain Reaction Cycles and buys something as a consequence of clicking a link on LFGSS, then in some cases Chain Reaction Cycles will give LFGSS 1-3% of the revenue. Affiliate revenue used to be better, and used to pay for nearly all of the forum (even when it was more expensive to run), but it is increasingly unpredictable and cannot be relied upon month to month. Some months are good, some are terrible.


    The very best way to fund LFGSS is through donations.

    Not one-off large donations by a few people, but by a very large number of people giving a little. Revenue needs to be predictable and stable month-to-month, so a regular small monthly donation is far better in the long-term than a one-off larger donation. It gives peace of mind.

    A lot of people make money off of the classifieds, a lot of people find a lot of joy in the forum. If you find value in the forum, consider giving back.

    How to donate

    The recommended way is to use PayPal to create a recurring donation:


    Be sure to click the checkbox to make it a recurring monthly donation.

    Otherwise it is trivial to make a one-off donation:


    If you have trouble with that and want to do a one-off donation, then the PayPal email is: paypal@lfgss.com .

    If 200 people are giving a small amount every month, and we can get to the point that we can fully cover costs just from regular donations, then this will provide a lot of stability for the site.

    If that happens, we can use the less predictable affiliate revenue to fund events, support for people participating in events, and just use that money to do extra things to support cycling.

    The key message remains the same:

    You don't have to donate, the forum is free to use. But if you can afford to, and value the forum accordingly, regular donations are the best way to help support it long-term.


    David Kitchen
    Owner/founder/admin of LFGSS.

    Managing a recurring donation

    If you have opted to donate on a regular basis (a subscription) then you can manage this via PayPal on their My pre-approved payments page. Once you visit that page, filter the list to show just the "Active" subscriptions.

    Note that there should only be one active subscription for LFGSS at most, but I have found out that PayPal enabled it such that you could set up more than one, if this has occurred please do cancel the ones that you consider the duplicate and get in touch for refunds if you would like that. I will refund duplicates for as long as I have complete records in PayPal.

  • will start a monthly in the next week or so..

  • Set up a monthly donation, I certainly do spend a lot of time on here...

  • Thanks.

    It really is appreciated. I loathe doing donation drives, and have been so bad at it the last three years that most subscriptions had long expired.

    Big shout to the 50+ people who have been donating for years. You've been the rock of support that has seen LFGSS survive.

  • This site is a fantastic resource, as well as being a very pleasant place to kill some time. If you spend a few hours on it each month, set up a regular payment ffs :)

  • (from the old thread)

    the approx' 100 donors we have today.

    Really shocked by this. C'mon people, donate!
    Btw @Velocio the old regular payments had frequency in the name (every month, ever 3 months etc). The more recent ones don't, are they all monthly?

  • Yes, the new ones are all monthly.

    And the 100 or so donors is simply because there is attrition over time... cards expire, paypal accounts empty, backup funding sources go out of date.

    There was a time when the forum cost well over £1k each month to run, served fewer people, and far more people donated. But that was 4+ years ago and I've done no concerted donation drive since then.

    Instead I focused on new tech, cutting costs, more efficiencies. Those have been greatly beneficial, we run at half the cost, and do far more, than 4 years ago.

    And over 4 years, every day or two I'd get an email saying "{someone}'s subscription has expired" or "been cancelled". So the number of donors did used to be higher, and it was more visible too (those gold stars). But it's less visible, and time has reduced the numbers.

    So this is the donation drive... to get us back to a comfort zone.

  • Done. For all the time I spend on here, and all the advice/ knowledge I've gained, worth it.

  • Done... I cancelled my monthly donation when I left the UK but I still seem to spend far too much time on here... 😘

  • Done - was lagging behind - don't take this for granted folks.

  • done.

  • Done

  • Small monthly donation put through.

  • I loathe doing donation drives

    No need. I'm sure people on here appreciate the forum. In fact for many it's helped them through dark times. Did for me. Ask and they will donate happily coz people forget if not asked.

  • Donated for a while 😃

    Indra reminded me about it ages ago :)
    Only the sun rises for free!

  • Done

  • Ha, since I left the UK I have spent way more time here.... Must get job.

    I normally donate every time I sell something here but I'll setup a monthly one. My pounds left in the UK arent worth much over here. Now so may as well use them!

  • same, cheers.

  • Worth my two monthly donations for so many reasons. So many characters on here, made some sales through here and have saved so much otherwise wasted cash through chatting about mechanics etc. LLLFGSS

  • I loathe doing donation drives, and have been so bad at it the last three years that most subscriptions had long expired.

    Only just read this topic, now set up a monthly donation, not much but it's something I hope.

  • For those wondering... having this message up for 4 days means that we are fine. We've received over £300 in donations, which when the rest of the month and affiliates are taken into account means we are back in the comfort zone.

    But... about £150 of that were larger one-off donations, £10 or over, with a £50 one in there too.

    I'm going to leave this conversation pinned to the front page for a week or so longer, because what we really need is to restore a stable income, which means encouraging people to donate as little as £2 every month.

    Small regular donations are the best.

    Each time we've been in trouble (when I've thrown things on my credit card and the site was effectively in debt) it's been because the spiky nature of revenue... some months £100-£200 over budget, some months £200-£250 under budget... means that when we've fallen short in the past I've said, "This is normal, next month will be an up because this one was a down"... and then another down comes, and another down, and then I panic.

    Our outgoings are stable, if our income was stable this place would just run itself.

    So I'm not asking for one-off donations... just small monthly ones if you can afford to, want to, and aren't doing so already. One-offs aren't needed, just tiny regular ones.

  • About to donate now. Couple of thoughts:
    You mention email costs are one of the biggest - I'm not sure what the default setting is, but I only have email notifications for new Private Messages. Would it be worth changing the default email notification settings for new users in an attempt to reduce email costs?

    Also, I never see the donate button, as my main bookmark is the 'Today' page. Could a discrete donate button be placed somewhere in the header?

  • You mention email costs are one of the biggest - I'm not sure what the default setting is, but I only have email notifications for new Private Messages. Would it be worth changing the default email notification settings for new users in an attempt to reduce email costs?

    Our costs are actually low for what we do, so email is disproportionately a larger portion of them (28.9% of our monthly bill). Per-email it is very very cheap, the largest part of our email cost is just ensuring we are not classified as spam, which means paying for an IP address that is exclusively assigned to us and used by us.

    Our email costs split over a number of tools too:

    1. Mailgun (transactional emails and IP address)
    2. MailJet (bulk emails and IP address)
    3. Dmarcian (configuration and reputation tracking)
    4. Google Apps (trivially small cost to make sure I can send and receive email for our domains, I think this is £2.75 per month, one of the very few GBP bills)

    Mailgun is the biggest of those, and the IP address is by far the biggest chunk of that.

    It can be done cheaper, but it's not a "send more or less mail" issue... it's a "do we end up in everyone's inbox, or their spam folder?" issue.

    We basically pay to make sure that when we do send email, it really gets there.

    So if you are selling something on LFGSS, and someone PMs you... the difference between you getting that email notification or not is whether we pay for email or not.

    The volume of email is not the issue.

    PS: And yes, it can be done cheaper. Amazon email prices look awesome, but would require me to write code to change lots to use it, and then test deliverability, and slowly migrate to it, etc. I think of things like this, but ultimately the cost isn't the end of the world, our costs are low and predictable and we run cheaper than any other site I know of at this scale, so really it's all just about making revenue as stable and predictable as outgoings.

  • just signed up for a very small monthly, will increase when I can.

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LFGSS survives by donations

Posted by Avatar for Velocio @Velocio