DonateWC Aims to Provide Travel Sponsorships to Attend Large WordCamps

DonateWC is a new initiative by Ines van Essen, Happiness Engineer at Automattic, that aims to provide an opportunity for less fortunate people to attend large WordCamps. Essen was inspired to create the non-profit organization after realizing how expensive it was to attend WordCamp US 2015. “As I did not work for a company that could send me there, I had to pay for travel, accommodation, and food/drinks myself,” She said. “All in all, I spent a full month’s worth of income to attend.”

While many WordPress focused businesses purchase and give away WordCamp tickets, DonateWC sponsorships include the following:

  • A WordCamp ticket
  • Door to door transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Food and drink money
  • Internet access

To be eligible for a sponsorship, you can not work for a company that is involved in WordPress or known to sponsor employees to WordCamps. You must be active in the community and either a speaker or volunteer at the WordCamp you’re attending.

Essen has a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundme and is asking for 1,000€. The initial 1,000€ will be used to design a logo, register the non-profit in the Netherlands, customize the theme for the site, and commercial plugins. However, if you can help out with providing any of the above, the savings will go towards sponsoring more people. Once DonateWC officially becomes a non-profit organization, a call for sponsors will go out.

If DonateWC is an initiative you believe in, consider donating to the campaign.

27 Comments


  1. I’m confused. Is DonateWC a philanthropic effort, or primarily another way to expand the WordPress community?

    Whatever DonateWC is, its existence illustrates how complicated and expensive it is to build and maintain proper WordPress sites.

    While many people promote the large “WordPress community” and WordCamps as proof of WordPress’ success, I also see it as proof that if you build and maintain WordPress sites, you’re going to need a ton of never-ending help.

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    1. This initiative has absolutely nothing to do with building and maintaining WordPress sites.

      I hear that you have a strong opinion on that and in many ways I agree that WP underplays complexity and technical responsibility of site ownership.

      However here you are hijacking unrelated topic to talk about your thing.

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      1. It’s always interesting who comments first on the tavern… the haters or the lovers…

        I’ve been guilty of being in the first group more often than I like to admit.

        +1 everything Rarst wrote.

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      2. Re: “This initiative has absolutely nothing to do with building and maintaining WordPress sites.”

        Your comment adds to the confusion.

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  2. Why can’t the folks who can’t attend watch the event on WordPress.tv or livestream? They can attend their local WordCamps/meetups which requires more participation than the so called “Large” WordCamps. Attending “Large” WordCamps are over rated and the folks who can’t afford including me can and should attend WordCamps near home or watch the live stream. This initiative just looks like another shot at attention grabbing.

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    1. Plus, if DonateWC and Automattic are truly concerned about helping “less fortunate people” with websites, they should be focusing their efforts on making WordPress sites much easier to build and maintain.

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    2. Why can’t the folks who can’t attend watch the event on WordPress.tv or livestream?

      Because then we don’t get to meet, hear, and learn from them. WordCamps are very affordable on ticket level. However the overall cost of attendance can still be very high, much more so for people from poorer countries.

      Even attending a local WordCamp within a country can come with a time commitment and travel costs.

      They can attend their local WordCamps/meetups which requires more participation than the so called “Large” WordCamps.

      Not every location has a WordCamp or in position to organize one. As a local organizer myself it took literally years to get our first official WordCamp together and next year it promptly didn’t happen again.

      This initiative just looks like another shot at attention grabbing.

      “Another” ? I know Ines for a while and had been fortunate to meet and talk with her at those very WordCamps. I perceive her attitude to things as that of caring and integrity.

      If your immediate reaction is to try and drag her project down — it says more negative about you than her to me.

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      1. Why don’t you save some honestly earned money and use that to attend a WordCamp like everyone else if you really want to attend one? tell me if this is not a valid argument. Wanting to attend a conference on somebody else’s money sounds sketchy to me. This sort of practice is done by government employees and catholic nuns where I live.

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      2. Why don’t you save some honestly earned money and use that to attend a WordCamp like everyone else if you really want to attend one?

        In my country average monthly paycheck won’t even cover a cost of flight to an international WordCamp.

        I am lucky to be able to attend (and speak at) WordCamps out of my own pocket. For many people that is out of their reach.

        Here is my argument — what is it to you? If someone wants to get people, who cannot afford it, to WordCamps who are you to judge both?

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      3. > Why don’t you save some honestly earned money and use that to attend a WordCamp like everyone else if you really want to attend one?

        Why don’t you check the privilege that allows you to make statements like this?

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    3. Sure this is one of the possibilities. But actually attending at small and large WordCamp’s opens up a whole lot of perspective.

      I worked on several tech projects, within different companies and most of the time the human aspects in these environments is close to zero.

      Since I’m using WordPress this hasn’t changed untill I actually attended at WordPress Meetups and WordCamp’s across the globe(-ish) I found out there are so many awesome, likeminded people you just don’t run into online, or on the streets in a way you will meet them at a WordCamp.

      I really would want anyone within the community to experience this kind of social interaction cause it can open many doors that seemed close and open you up as a person entirely.

      To me the technical “difficulty” has nothing to do with this matter, cause it’s solely meant to expand your horizon on so much more then just building and maintaining a WordPress website.

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  3. >The initial 1,000€ will be used to design a logo, register the non-profit in the Netherlands.

    Looks like Netherlands is an expensive place for this work, You can wrap up an entire site for around 20 bucks with services like fiverr.com.

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    1. Have you checked out donatewc.org? I appreciate minimalist design, but donatewc.org is surprisingly basic for a site built by/for a Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

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      1. These “Happiness Engineers” have access to tons of free themes and still 1000 Euros is solicited which seems scammy..

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      2. The way I see it, this website is just there to tell you more about the initiative. Which, on a side note, looks like an awesome initiative to me.

        The way an informative site like this looks like is off secondary importance, why loose a lot of time on creating the perfect website, while you could use this time to spread the word and excite people on this great initiative?

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      3. but donatewc.org is surprisingly basic for a site built by/for a Happiness Engineer at Automattic

        You had literally just complained that building WP sites is complicated and expensive.

        And two comments down your problem is that someone didn’t make it fancy enough on their own time and resources.

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  4. Whatever DonateWC is, its existence illustrates how complicated and expensive it is to build and maintain proper WordPress sites.

    Plus, if DonateWC and Automattic are truly concerned about helping “less fortunate people” with websites, they should be focusing their efforts on making WordPress sites much easier to build and maintain.

    I think you’re confused Scott – this is about helping people be able to afford to go to a WordCamp. It has nothing to do with building sites.

    Why can’t the folks who can’t attend watch the event on WordPress.tv or livestream?

    I can’t speak for anybody else, particularly Ines, but there’s a huge benefit to visiting a WordCamp in person – the face-to-face networking alone is tremendously beneficial.

    I appreciate minimalist design, but donatewc.org is surprisingly basic for a site built by/for a Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

    These “Happiness Engineers” have access to tons of free themes and still 1000 Euros is solicited which seems scammy..

    This initiative just looks like another shot at attention grabbing.

    Wow. Really. Somebody, off their own back (they may work for Automattic but this isn’t being run by the company) sets up a non-profit to help others get to WordCamps and this is your take-away?

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    1. RE: “I think you’re confused Scott – this is about helping people be able to afford to go to a WordCamp. It has nothing to do with building sites.”

      Who in the world goes to WordCamps who’s not directly involved in building and/or maintaining WordPress websites?

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  5. Scott, Pablo, Diego, just … you know … don’t. Don’t treat this as code, or politics, or a GPL debate. This is not like those other things.

    Do you get sensation out of habitual criticism? Does this seem boring to you? If so, that’s ok. Just don’t make others pay for it. There is neither honour, nor profit in trampling another person’s good intentions for no reason whatsoever.

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  6. There is no replacement for attending WordCamp. WordPress.tv, Slack, local meetups, and other things can give very small pieces of the experience, but can’t even come close to the sum.

    And for MANY people, the cost of traveling to WordCamp and staying someplace is just inconceivable.

    Ines is doing something about that, which is more than what I did. She has my respect for that, and she deserves respect from everyone.

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    1. RE: “‘There is no replacement for attending WordCamp.”

      Sure there is. For Automattic to finally make building and maintaining self-hosted WordPress sites much less complicated and expensive. That would greatly reduce the need for all the time and costs associated with attending WordCamps. But Automattic is mostly concerned with market share (though 75% of website owners still decide not to use WordPress). It’s also pretty amazing how much pushback comes from WordPress designers/developers when someone points out that self-hosted WordPress sites are too complicated and expensive for the majority of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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      1. For Automattic to finally make building and maintaining self-hosted WordPress sites much less complicated and expensive

        Automattic doesn’t make self-hosted WordPress, it makes WordPress.com.

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  7. This is awesome. I’ve personally sponsored a few people over the years and seen a few get corporate sponsorship (not from their employer), great to have a pool for it.

    I’ve heard people griping about fund drives for these types of things for
    years, I’ve been one in some cases. I understand having the feeling of “why can’t you people self-fund”, but at the end of the day no one _needs_ to contribute and no one _needs_ to feel guilty about not contributing to efforts like this. Embrace the positive here.

    I will say, maybe we ought to embrace WordPress based solutions a bit more like GiveWP (which is free with paid addons, although knowing those folks I’d bet they would donate any paid add-ons needed in kind for this).

    Way less of the donations would get eaten up by fees that way… Even GoFuneMe’s 8% is pretty obscene to give away when you don’t need to.

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    1. +1
      Especially if this will be a long-term recurring donations fund/pool.

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  8. @Rarst

    RE: “You had literally just complained that building WP sites is complicated and expensive.”

    Because it’s true. Even Matt Mullenweg agrees. And while you’re obviously entitled to your opinion of websites, so am I. And it is surprising and telling to me that a site by a “Happiness Engineer at Automattic” is so simplistic.

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  9. @cu-mark

    RE: “Automattic doesn’t make self-hosted WordPress, it makes WordPress.com.” But DonateWC is run by a “Happiness Engineer at Automattic.” Plus most people don’t know or care about Automattic’s confusing corporate structure.

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    1. Whether she works at Automattic or not has nothing to do with her initiative. In a follow up post, I clearly explained that Automattic has nothing to do with her initiative although many Automatticians are supportive of the idea.

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