At some point maybe, Bill, but not as things are and have been. When people paid us for tickets for the big celebrity-dinner events we ran, they got a great night out. They benefitted right away. They got their money's-worth. The same, to a large extent anyway, with our supporters' clubs. We've held upwards of 65 club events for them, they have been able to see what we're doing at first hand, so there's been a payback for them.
But someone donating gets nothing. The time our project has taken, and is taking, means that people just straight-donating don't get sufficient payback - at least, that's how I view it - so I'd not feel comfortable about taking people's money on that basis.
When the boat's ready to run, it may well be a different matter. Then donators would be contributing to something more tangible.
I don't doubt that the BBP benefits greatly from donations, and that donators get a warm feeling. Every day, you can show photos of your progress. We can't do that. It's proved to be a tough old slog for us, with little or nothing to show, often-times, for our efforts, and so I'm glad we never had a 'Donate' button.
Crowdfunding or something - maybe. But only when it's going to give a tangible boost to what we're doing and the people doing the donating can see a clear-cut benefit for themselves.
Merchandising was a different matter. In our case it was a team-branded range of clothing that looked great and was good-quality product. You can sell something to someone and that person walks away with the goods. It's a payback situation for them, so it's a good thing. But in our case our supplier was letting us down, messing us about, and when that happens you start letting your customers down. The volumes weren't high enough in the first place to make it worth the work, and so I stopped it. Then the Inspirations book came along. I sell them by hand. You take £10 off someone, hand over a book with a signature in it, and it's done. It's an easy transaction, we make money and the buyer gets a nice book to either read himself or give as a gift. So that works, because they're happy and we're happy. And there's no supplier to worry about, because I produced the book myself and the stock is sitting there, so there's no quality-control or supply concerns to queer the pitch.