HandBrakeBatch becomes Charityware

Since I launched HandBrakeBatch, several people have asked to make donations. Until now I have always refused, mainly because I do not want to feel the obligation to maintain the application. I enjoy working on it once in a while, when I have time, and I’d like to keep it that way.

This being said, while I did not want the money for myself, I have always been intrigued by the idea of redirecting donations to charity; in this way I would help people while doing something that I like, what could I ask more? The only problem was that I could not find a good and easy way to do it. What I wanted is quite simple:

  • Allow the donor to choose among some charities, without imposing a single one;
  • Track and show the total amount collected through the application;
  • Possibly have a nice workflow to push the donations forward and get the details (success / failure of the operation, exact amount);
  • Optionally, collect the names and email addresses of the donors, to send a "thank you" message. I want to stress on the “optionality” of this: it should be up to the donors to decide whether they want to disclose this to OSOMac or not, I would not refuse a donation if a donor prefers minimum disclosure. Thus, I expect from a donation service to handle all sensitive information about the donor for me (mainly to process the payments, but also to do the necessary security verifications).

I have been thinking about this for a while, and finally I am comfortable enough with web development to do something. I have developed a very simple service for “charity-ware” applications. On the back-end I use JustGiving, which provides a nice API to get the details of a donation. It only accepts donations in British Pounds as far as I can see, but it’s the best I could find and I don’t think it’s such a big deal in a time of credit cards and PayPal. Please let me know if this is a problem for you! I have considered more “global” alternatives, and for a while I was leaning towards Globalgiving; finally I decided not to use the service for the following reasons:

  • Globalgiving’s API requires the user (i.e. OSOMac) to collect the donor’s personal and credit card details, and I expect this to be an issue for a lot of people: after all, why should you trust me or OSOMac? JustGiving allows me to nicely redirect the donor to their pages for the donation, and the API just returns me the confirmation and the donated amount;
  • Globalgiving’s fee is 15%, while JustGiving’s is 10%;
  • Globalgiving has a minimum donation of $10 (or £5), while I do not want to impose a minimum;
  • JustGiving has a partnership with Globalgiving, so I can select charities from Globalgiving, while retaining the advantages of JustGiving.

The service is almost ready and I will probably release it in a couple of weeks or so. It’s going to be extremely simple and plain, but if other developers want to use it I can quite easily add an authentication module and allow them to configure their apps, select their charities, and start accepting donations.

[titled_box title="Fellow developers" variation="orange"]If you want to use the donation platform (using your own domain name), let me know.

If you want to contribute to the web service (development or design), I have no problems in sharing the source: it's done in Ruby on Rails 3.2, using Bootstrap for the presentation.[/titled_box]