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Why can't I donate? What's going on?

Long story.

So as you might know, I just moved from the UK to the USA to marry my girlfriend and live happily ever after. That part is going great, thank you for asking. But it puts me in a bit of an awkward position finances-wise, and Island-wise.

You see, as of right now, I'm not allowed to work or earn money. Not until I get my green card, which could take a while - round about three months, perhaps. This means that I have to stop accepting donations beyond the Island's server costs, so for the next little while, I'm gonna be living the Ramen life. But that's the least of my problems!

The real problem is what to do with you lot! I can't very well open the server to donations for one day a month and then shut the donations gate as soon as enough to cover the server rolls in, can I? Then only a few people would have the opportunity to get any Donator Points at all, and it'd be kind of unfair! Another big problem is that donations are pretty thoroughly tied into the game's economy by this point - simply turning off the Donate link altogether would be catastrophic for the Island.

So, after a lot of mulling it over, Emily and I have figured out that the only way to keep Improbable Island open for the next three months is to redirect all the donations to a charity of some sort.

The game and PayPal will talk to each other regardless of what E-mail address donations go to, which means that changing it over while still retaining the Donator Point functionality should be easy. BUT! Most of the charities to whom we'd want to donate won't accept PayPal. I have no idea why - maybe they have some deal with the credit card companies, I don't know. But this means that I can't just replace the game's donations E-mail address with the one for Doctors Without Borders (or whoever we end up going with), because there is no such address.

SO! The best - hell, the only way to do this would be to route the money through a trusted third party. Donations go from you to this trusted third party, then at the end they pull the money out of their account and give it to the charity. Preferably on an oversized novelty cheque, with a big silly grin. But this third party has to be someone who doesn't know me in real life, otherwise the DHS are likely to think I'm up to something dodgy. The problem of how to find someone who you don't know, but who you can trust with a large amount of money, is a tricky one - and I think the best way to overcome it is by making it someone famous.

With a famous person, trust can go both ways. Folks are more likely to donate to someone who they know from their deeds to be a good person, a famous person has built up a reputation that isn't worth squandering for the sake of a little money, and nobody would be dumb enough to try to scam a famous person and not expect angry-mob consequences. Also, the spotlight tends to encourage transparency for all involved, which is what we want.

It's still early days, and we're still figuring out which charities to donate to, but it'd be nice if we could pick several charities (and ideally several people to hold the money for us) and then rotate between them.

The tricky part is going to be persuading someone famous (ideally several folks, so each one can have a charity assigned to them to keep things simple bookkeeping-wise) to run with us on this, because quite frankly it's a ridiculous situation and it sounds exactly like some sort of elaborate Nigerian 409 scam in reverse. Thankfully Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics just kind of grinned and said something about my crazy circumstances being so very crazy and said yeah he'd do it. So that's one famous person!

Your Donate link - your way to get lovely lovely Donator Points - will come back soon, all shiny and new and charitable! Until then, I'll keep you updated - check the Enquirer!

This page last updated 7th December 2009, about four in the afternoon. If we have big updates, I'll edit this page - check the Enquirer for little incremental updates.

Current favourite charities:
Doctors Without Borders
One Laptop Per Child
Child's Play

Current confirmed trusted-third-parties:
Ryan North