Timely topic @rgilmour. I donate for truly exceptional content, pertinent to me. I would pay more frequently, to support a more viable long-term funding model.
Slightly re-directing the answer to @rgilmour’s question -
Podcasters could offer a choice -1. podcasts with tasteful unobtrusive ads, or 2. podcasts with no ads, available for a subscription fee (not a donation). In either case, podcasts (and podcast apps) should not track listeners or collect or sell listeners’ data.
I gladly pay for apps with similar choices. Example - the excellent Overcast app. The business model is: “Small, tasteful ads in the app for free users, and an option to disable the ads with an inexpensive annual subscription.” Perfect. Give the listener a choice.
The above seems more straightforward and workable in the long run than the donation model, which would include ads anyway, Consipuous example: NPR - Originally they were portrayed as above the fray, providing quality broadcasting free from commercial interests in return for constantly begging - excuse me, soliciting - for donations. Today their TV/cable programming seems to have as many ads (including the “donation requests”) as commercial TV. Little-known fact: NPR has become the largest podcast producer. Now beholden to large advertisers, NPR is heavily promoting RAD, a podcast analytics standard for podcasters and podcast client apps that would be intrusive, rob listeners’ privacy through data collection and probable eventual tracking. (Details discussed elsewhere in this forum, won’t repeat here)
Not a good track record for donations as a funding model.
Podcasting is in a good place, a bright star in today’s internet-based entertainment space. Lots of choices, not (yet) ruined by commercial interests and tacky, intrusive advertising or creepy data collection (lookin’ at you, Facebook). Consider all of the services that have been ruined by tacky, creepy or intrusive commercial interests: Email is full of spam, phone calls are replete with malicious or fraudulent calls, commercial television is hard to watch because of all the ads, Facebook is downright creepy. Now even NPR is headed in the wrong direction.
Support the “good guys” - the MPU podcasters and many others, and the “good guy” podcast apps. I hope they will choose the best funding source. It may not be donations, if the NPR example is followed.