Forum maintenance cost

I have a created a very small discourse forum for my little no profit gaming community.
(it’s a 20 years old community once in ezboard and later in vbulletin the later content was imported in discourse)
50.000 consolidated pageviews yearly - 4000 posts a year.

Traffic is more or less stable, but expenses are growing…

Digitial ocean droplet had some little increases over the years and now is around 14$
Mailgun once free now costs me 1$ once in while
in particular AWS has grown from 4$ last genuary to 8$ this year…

being a non profit community keeping down costs is essential and every once in a while some members suggest to move to free solution like discord (that I think are far from ideal for our purposes)

any idea on how to spare a few bucks? (without too headaches in migrations)
and any hints on why AWS costs are increasing so much?

Ty in advance for any support!


That is the easy part: because of Amazon and it has nothing to do with situation of the world. They know leaving AWS is harder that can be expected — for smaller players anyway.

Everything else… You can compare prices and spare a buck there and another here, but

  • when a site needs resources, and
  • everyone increases prizes

there isn’t too many options.

Don’t use CND. That isn’t that important, opposite to hype. CDNs are more or less just expensive backup :wink: Keep your server as close to 100 % levels as possible — anything isn’t as expensive than unused RAM, or cores.

Try to monetize. Everyone hates ads, but… we have learned to live with those.

But if you find a good solution, please and share it — you aren’t the only one fighting with this.


Do you or have you considered having your members an option to Donate?

I can understand not wanting to switch to something like Discord as it is more of an Online chat than a messaging board. Plus with Discourse Chat plugin not a lot of need for a Discord server.

As mentioned tge Ad plugin can be a good fit. There is also the Amazon Affliates plugin. You would likely need to rebake posts to have ir adjust older posts with Amazon links.

Chat plugin could even for example be offered as a ViP option for users whom donate say something like $20/year along with other perks. Humble bundles for example you could give a free game code every say 3 ir 4 months. Just purchase a few packages…


Which one do you use (if it’s on the list)? Droplet Pricing | DigitalOcean

Amazon SES is really cheap. Harder to configure though.

This highly depends on your community, but this is the way I went for two forums I’m an admin of.

Example on


Giving badges to those who donate is such an obvious but great idea that I wish I had thought about it earlier. Thank you!


I think it was indeed a good idea to use the badge feature for this. :smiley_cat:

I first thought about having three donator badges (bronze, silver, gold), but my philosophy is that a 1€ donation is equally fair as a 100$ one. Each user does what they want and what they can and I didn’t want to differentiate users based on the amount of money they were willing or able to spend, hence the unique golden badge.


That is also a great way of eliminating the stigma of “I donate, but not as much as others.” Everyone will feel comfortable with what they could donate and they’re all shown as “equals.” :+1:


I’m the same way, but the users on my forums wanted different colored badges so I compromised with them: We have all our donation methods setup so that there are 3 variants. The users can pay what they want and can get the badge color they want.


How do you keep tabs on who supports your forum, and when someone stops supporting? Or do they get and keep a badge once they support forever?


On mine, we grant the donor badges on group memberships and our integrations call a webhook on our push notification server that records the date of the donation and an expiration date that is 32 days after the donation date.

If they don’t renew before the expiration date then we have a script that runs hourly that removes expired subscribers from the groups which revokes the badges.

If they do renew, it updates the start and end dates.


Ty all for your feedback! Much appreciated!


They keep the badge forever, regardless of the amount or times they donated. :slight_smile:


I’m still hosting my own site for around $15 a year for a domain. It’s relatively small, so SendInBlue’s free plan works fine. We have a dedicated server for it, and don’t need much else.


This was how we did things originally, but our users requested we change it to the current system.


@Discoursecurious we are also a small not-for-profit community with no organized income source. Right now, we are simply relying on donations from certain users who have volunteered to donate and are powerfully vested in our success. I find it likely that at some point soon we will also need to solicit donations from the community, so I am curious what you end up deciding to do, how you do it, and how it goes.

I honestly thought about something as simple as BuyMeACoffee or just setting up a dedicated venmo/paypal for the group.

What would really be awesome is if Discourse had a donation plug-in that could facilitate contributions from community members directly into that community’s account with Discourse. This would maintain anonymity and remove any individual modmin from the responsibility and scrutiny of accounting. And it would be easy to track. #FeatureRequest


well right now I’m waiting.

Being a gaming community we used to rise money for a Gaming server. I didn’t participate to that and took care of website and forum.

Now we are letting go the server so I’m thinking to set up donations for forum maintenance but haven’t set up anything yet!


On my forum, it’s the third year that we asked for donations. I noticed that every year, the donations are more spaced in time. It causes no trouble so far. The forum’s activity hasn’t changed and the fees are still met quickly, but people who donated in one year may be less inclined to donate in the following years, and the community is pretty much static. There are not a lot of newcomers.

I’m sure it differs from a community to another, but this may be something to keep an eye on over time :slight_smile:


I find that reminding the community to redonate can help, but do not like to do this often.

If you give someone a badge, should you take it away if their donation was prior to a specific period?

Perhaps that scheme is better served by a ‘membership plan’.


Yeah, I don’t want to be pushy.
The topic is pinned until the fees are met, but the best solution would be a progress bar between the header and the forum’s content I think. It’s not something that I can achieve with my current system since donations are made on ko-fi, unless…

:eyes: :grey_question:


On the other hand couldn’t one just create a badging tier system?