So I have a problem I'd like to ask some opinions about. I'll probably also post a news article directing here, since few people read these forums anymore.
This year, the shipping expenses on the random bag of fun were unusually high and the number of people sending Paypal money was unusually low. Specifically, four people sent $20 each and two people sent $5 with their gifts for a total of $90 cash. The total shipping (through USPS) was about $92.
Normally, the cash donors shoulder the burden of shipping to everyone. I figured that's fair, since the people who send in gifts have put in more effort and also paid one leg of shipping already. So, I tended to buy, on average, ~$15 gifts for the cash donors, and the rest would balance out the total shipping. But it didn't work out this year. The gifts I bought on behalf of the four cash donors were about $15-$20 each, leaving me about $60-$80 in the hole (plus money for wrapping paper, tape, etc). I have a good job, so I don't mind so much, but I'd rather this not continue in future years especially since I don't make money off of Nukees anymore.
One of the issues was a higher international/domestic ratio. Now, the guilty truth is that the random bag isn't *completely* random. I usually avoid sending very heavy things out of the country to save on shipping. Another issue may be that USPS raised their rates this year because of recession-related funding issues. That's just speculation, though. Also, I haven't raised the cash donation amount since Year 1 for inflation.
So what do you guys think would be acceptable solutions for future years? Should I require people who donate gifts to also send in $5? Should I require international participants to pay more? Should I raise the cash donor rate to something very significantly higher, like $30-$40 (but still buy $15-$20 gifts)? Would UPS or FedEx be cheaper for heavy international deliveries? Would any of these things preclude you from participating?
What do you guys think?
Darren "Gav" Bleuel
, an atomic comic)