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(also donateware)

Donationware definition

Donationware falls under the category of freeware. It is a software distribution model where users can obtain the software without any cost, but the author urges them to donate to assist in its development.

Distributing donationware software follows a method similar to shareware but with a distinct licensing approach. Users are typically required to pay a fee to continue using shareware software after a trial period. In contrast, donationware software has no trial period, allowing users to utilize it indefinitely for free. Nevertheless, donationware authors encourage users to contribute donations to support the software's progress. However, a donation is not mandatory.

There are various reasons why developers opt to distribute their software as donationware. One motive is to ensure the availability of their software to a wide range of individuals, regardless of their financial circumstances. Another reason is cultivating a community of users keen on backing the software's development.

See also: proprietary software, software package

Examples of donationware

  • WinRAR. Technically shareware, WinRAR's licensing model has been so lenient that many users treat it like donationware.
  • Paint.NET. Originally developed as a replacement for Microsoft Paint, Paint.NET grew in functionality and, for a time, employed a donationware model.
  • Wikipedia. A website that operates on a similar principle as donationware software. It is free to access, but the Wikimedia Foundation periodically runs donation drives to cover costs and ensure the website remains advertisement-free.
  • VideoLAN – VLC media player. VLC is a free and open-source cross-platform multimedia player. Although it's completely free, the project accepts donations to support development.