iOverlander is a nonprofit project. We are almost completely volunteer run. Thousands of hours have gone into building, upgrading, maintaining and moderating our places and our apps. If you enjoy our app, if it has saved you some time, or petrol, or cash, please consider giving back.
For those of you that want the full story:
Despite our amazing team of volunteers, it does still cost money to host and run a site and apps. As of early 2019 our expenses exceed $500 per month. For the last 4 years donations have failed to cover our costs and the excess has been personally funded by iOverlander founders, Sam & Jessica. We don’t tell you this to feel guilty, in fact both of us have been completely willing to front these costs to keep our apps going (let’s just say, we believe in this little app!)
But to be honest, the momentous amount of work we spend maintaining our site, combined with the debt it puts us in, is getting a bit too much to bear. Yes, our site and apps are successful, and used and loved by overlanders worldwide. We are incredibly proud of this. We didn’t start iOverlander to make a profit, and we stand by that today. But we also didn’t start iOverlander to lose all our free time and still go into debt.
We are considering many options to solve our funding problems. I’ve included some details below, because many of our awesome users give us feedback on how we could earn enough to pay these expenses. Unfortunately, this problem is much more complex than it seems.
First, let’s go over how we get to +$500/month:
As of 2019, our estimated reoccurring expenses per year are:
- $200-300 / month for hosting and bandwidth fees for the app and database
- $200-350 / month for map tile hosting and bandwidth (some from Google, some from MapTiler)
- $99 / year for iOS developer program subscription
- $85 / year for DNS registration
- $200 / year for other software licensing
- $75 / year for business licensing
Add all that up and round it out, and you get to $563/month.
Note that our bandwidth fees for our apps and for the mapping varies month to month, but one thing is certain, these amounts are steadily increasing. In early 2018 our fees were half what they are now. We have done a lot to try to reduce these. You may have noticed our website change to OSM (MapTiler) maps, which was an attempt to reduce our costs.
Are you convinced yet? Here’s that button again in case you missed it:
Ok, so now to answer some FAQ:
If OSM is free, why are you paying for maps?
OSM is not free. The map data is free, but the API that generates the map tiles and the server that hosts those tiles is NOT. As of mid-2018 Google maps are also no longer free. We pay based on the type of map we are loading (static image vs dynamic map) and also per number of map tiles that are loaded.
Why don’t you just charge for the app?
Two reasons: #1 we made a commitment when we launched this app years ago to always keep a free version going. We don’t plan to go back on that promise. #2. Charging for our app complicates our business exponentially. We have to provide technical support, we have to pay taxes, we have to hand 30% of our income over to apple/google. The amount we would need to charge to pay to maintain this means that iOverlander has to become a full-blown business, and that means that we will have to earn exponentially more to cover our operational costs.
However, let me be clear, just because we want to have a free version of the app, it does NOT mean that we won’t ever charge for an app “upgrade”. There is a good possibility we will release a pro version of the app so that we can pay our expenses, but also use that income to add new features (like favorites, and offline maps!) These bonus features would only be available on the upgrade version.
Why don’t you just put up ads?
Several reasons. Mostly, because ads suck. You hate them. I hate them. Everyone hates them. They don’t earn very much money especially since many of our users are offline. No internet, no ads, no income. Unfortunately, if we fail to raise more donations in the next few months, our next step is to put ads on our app and website. We don’t like it, but we gotta pay the rent somehow.
FAQ break for that button again. I know you want to push it this time!
Is my donation tax deductible?
No. We are not a registered non-profit. The complexity and costs in registering and maintaining a non-profit business are substantial (over $500/year). It is not worth it to us to add this extra cost. Most of our donations are small, and we don’t feel that offering a tax deduction would increase them substantially.
If other travelers are doing all the work to add places, why should I give you money?
Our contributors and our volunteers are incredible people for whom iOverlander has great appreciation for. And when you meet a famous iOverlander contributor, or a moderator on the road, you should buy them excessive amounts of beer, or tacos, or both! However, the places in our database are only a part of what makes iOverlander work. We built these apps and website from the ground up. We moderate every single new place that comes in. And we pay the bills to Amazon, Google, MapTiler to keep this going. Even though our data comes from our users, the cost to display it, maintain it, and package it in a way that you can view, is NOT free.
What happens with my donation?
A small percent (2-3%) is lost to PayPal. Everything else goes straight into the iOverlander bank account. That money is used to pay the expenses listed above. Donation income will never be used pay salaries to owners, or profit draws. If there ever is a time where donations exceed our expenses, one of two things will happen: 1. We will roll the excess to pay for future years of hosting. 2. We will use the excess to build new features for the app (to pay a developer that can do this for us.)
If a time comes when iOverlander finds a way to make money from a different means (ads, or a paid upgrade, or any other way), then we’ll take this page down, and stop asking. I can’t wait for that day!
Why don’t you <ENTER IDEA HERE> to earn more money?
I promise we have considered every possible funding method you can think of, so please understand that we love your suggestions, but what often seems like a very simple solution generally is not so simple. I’m saying this while working full time and spending every other possible minute of the day figuring this out. And Sam would be doing the same but he’s too busy doing something with Linux and servers and generally making sure this shit stays online so ya’ll can find a place to sleep tonight. The easiest way to solve our funding problems is if even a small percent of our users decides we’re worth a donation of a few bucks. It doesn’t require any more time, or management, or other fees. It’s just easy.
Questions? Comments? Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.