Is it a good idea to run a donation/"Pay what you want" SaaS application?

I shared my side-project Email This here some time ago. I have been thinking of letting the app be free to use but asking members to contribute $1+/mo if they find continued utility in the product.

I have also quickly hacked together a “pay what you want” page for it here.

Does anyone have any suggestions or insights regarding a donation-based SaaS?

It is a good idea or should I stick with a regular Free (“save xx articles per month”) vs Premium (“save unlimited articles per month”, “save to Slack” etc) model?


“Is it a good idea to run a donation/”Pay what you want” SaaS application?”



Only if you are doing it for free. Most people will just take the free.

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Feels like more troubles than profit.

P.S. It looks like a nice implementation, but do not expect people paying for that. At all. Maybe you should just make it free and append ads to sent texts. (Don’t expect any money from that one, too - but at least it is not asking for money, but attempting to make money.)

Hmm…Thanks for your input.
I thought starting with a pay what you want model might help me validate if someone is actually willing to pay for this or not.

Thanks, that seems like a nice idea. Maybe I can show a small one-line text ad saying “Sponsored by: …”. I have seen Pocket do the same thing.

I doubt it would validate anything.

I’m using Firefox and Eclipse for years, and I would pay for both of them - but they only ask for donations, and so I do not.

(Well, once I did, for Mozilla Foundation - in days when NSA and Google spying became a focus - and I felt a gratitude to have an alternative. That was an emotion-based action, not an economics-based one.)

Only people who depend on your solution may pay. Who are them? Researchers? Journalists? I don’t know, but to make them pay you need to provide some special features in paid version only. What could those be? I have no idea :confused:

That should make sense to the sponsor, and that requires you to get some user base, and not just user base, but a user base that is interesting to the sponsor.

Adding context-specific ads seems a more straight-forward thing - there should be APIs on ads networks that allow to submit the article text and get the relevant ads.