K-9 Mail is looking for funding

This is the comment thread for the blog post “K-9 Mail is looking for funding”.


You might also consider making a paid version on the Play Store and Amazon App Store (could be exactly the same as the free version, only giving people the option to pay) and you could consider support contracts or licenses outside the apps stores. See Patio11’s comments about this on a different project: We don't *donate* to OSS software which we use, because we're legally not allowe... | Hacker News

Thank you for k9mail.

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Hello !

Few years ago I wrote an article to promote this semantic of the email address : greeting@name

The major challenge is about maintaining a good federated protocol by maintaining a good ecosystem of Internet hosting service. It also empowers users by helping them to keep control on their social relations and not be locked by big monopoly hosting services (on over 4 billion email account, Gmail manage 1.5 billions of the them).

It could interest you to promote this semantic because you could become a domain name registrar or reseller and sell a hosting service. It will give you a stable income thanks to annual renewal and so finance the development of K9 Mail.

Managing DNS records is difficult, particularly for email, thus common users shouldn’t have to do it manually on their own. While common users must own their domain name so as not to be locked in by big monopoly hosting services.

For example Gandi, a French registrar, offers good services for domain name resellers : Domain name reseller services – Gandi.net
If as reseller you purchased for 5000€ to Gandi, you get the D rates and for example the .name domain is at 8€/year including an email hosting service.

You could keep on proposing K9 Mail as a software totally unlinked to any hosting service and propose another version of K9 Mail linked to your hosting service for automatic and easy on boarding, thus helping common users to get easily their own DNS name and their own email address. Your users can easily leave your hosting services without losing their email address and continue to use the version of K9 not linked to your hosting service. It is a sane relation.

You could also broad your hosting services to other federated protocol such as XMPP and ActivityPub which would also be empowered by the semantic of conversation address greeting@name

For example when installing the app connected to your services, the user could have the choice between :

  • 15€/year : get your own email address hello@username.name
  • 20€/year : get your own email address hello@username.name + XMPP hosting service + a blog (linked to Fediverse using Mastodon or Plume or Writefreely or Pixelfed ?)

Yearly you would return 7€ per user so you would need only 8 000 users to reach your goal.

I understand that it’s difficult for companies to donate money to open source projects. But I don’t think offering a paid version is the right way to go. As soon as you do that you’re dealing with “customers” rather than users of an open source project. I’d rather not go there.

The hope is that enough (private) users find K-9 Mail important enough to donate money. So far it also looks like the average donation would make for a very premium price tag if it was on a paid app.


So why exactly did many of us buy Kaufen Mail Pro, the paid Version of K9 Mail back in the paar? Well in order to support Development, but that didn’t happen. Instead both versions drifted apart and never integrated ActiveSync as a modern protocol or improved the GUI.
I switched to the paid app Nine / Nine Mail out of frustration but never felt 100% comfortable as it isn’t open source.
Still I’m willing to give you and K-9 another chance, please don’t disappoint us.

A lot of the development on K-9 Mail during that time was paid for by money made from Kaiten Mail. It’s true that not all features of Kaiten have been merged into K-9 Mail. But that’s mainly because they were flawed.
Cross-financing the open source app with a paid app wasn’t a great fit. A lot of time was spent on support and doing things that didn’t benefit the open source app.


Consider multiple streams on how users can give…

  • Brave browser’s BAT could be donated when surfing to this site if you register as a creator
  • Paypal and Venmo are super easy for US folks
  • Patreon and similar sites
  • WeChat, Alipay, etc for China
  • New menu in app, between About and Settings, “Donate!”, with details and links on how to give
  • Annual one time pop up in the app, usually in December, and could be the Donate! new screen mentioned just above
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Maybe the blog post should include an actual link to k9mail's profile - Liberapay?

The post contains a ‘donate’ button. However, some browser extensions seem to block it. I updated the post to not use JavaScript for the button.

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some thoughts from my side. This is also what I always recommend people who write mobile apps for the Free Software projects I’m involved in.

Free Software doesn’t mean “gratis software”. Free Software developers deserve to earn money with their work the same way people who develop proprietary software do.

Therefore I always recommend people to offer their app on the Google or Apple app store for some money. 0.99€, 1,99€… Something like this. Not super expensive but a price everyone can pay easily and roughly on the same level people pay for similar proprietary apps. At the same time publish the app on F-Droid and maybe even the APK on your webpage for free. The gratis version should contain a donation button/link.

The reasoning is simple: People who want to have the convenience to install stuff from the regular app store should pay you some money the same way they pay for many other apps as well. Often this are also people who don’t know that much about Free Software and are not used to a “donation culture”. People who use F-Droid (or download the app directly at you homepage) are typically more connected to the Free Software community and might be more open for donation. So ask them for donations in return for your great app which they can use for free.

This way you get the best out of both worlds. According to the play store, K9Mail has +5Mio installations. Let’s assume only half of them would buy it for 1€, this would leave you with 2,5Mio € (minus taxes and what google gets). Still, probably a nice amount of money. Plus the donations from some of the F-Droid users.

On a education level it teaches people that Free Software doesn’t mean gratis software and that the freedom respecting, add-free and privacy respecting software they get should be worth at least as much as what they pay for way worse apps.

Therefore I would say: Don’t be afraid of asking for money and also take the easy money. Buying a app with one click is for many people way easier (and it is what they are used to) than creating a LiberaPay account and setup a regular donations. Some “hard core” fans might do it but only a few regular users will do so.

I hope you will get enough money to continue to work on the app. I don’t know what I would do without k9! :slight_smile:


I believe the Play Store displays the number of users who have downloaded the app over all of the app’s lifetime. The current number of users is around 600k.

Making K-9 Mail a paid app on Google Play is more of a thought exercise rather than an actual option. You can’t switch over a free app to a paid app. We’d have to publish a separate app.
I get the idea behind the suggestion. But I’m quite happy with giving the app away for free everywhere. It reaches a wider audience. And I believe people using the app without paying is better than them using a closed source app that is free.

I am fairly confident that enough users of K-9 Mail will donate so the funding goal will be reached. At the very least the donations so far are paying for development until the end of March :smiley:


Please consider adding a Paypal donation option, for us old farts that don’t want to sign up to a new site just to make a donation :blush:

For alternative donation options see: Become a sponsor
Just be aware that this is giving to me directly (please add a note mentioning K-9 Mail, so it can be counted towards funding K-9 Mail, not me personally). If we ever change who’s getting paid to work on K-9 Mail you’ll have to manually adjust your donations (not an issue for one-time donations).

In other news: “k9mail receives €506.29 per week from 688 patrons. Goal: €1,000.00
So half of the weekly funding goal has been reached :partying_face:

The total amount of money received so far in 2021:

  • Liberapay: €16,256.08, $298.46, CA$116.44, £142.90, and MX$294.83
  • Other channels: €25

How can a common user find out your project is open for donations and that you ARE working on a new version???
(Almost) nobody knows about!
Go inform every current user about now. Friendly, short, once. Perhaps via update in the Play Store.

Give me a PayPal link and I will give you money.

I sent my first email in 1982 and have been a daily Internet user since 1984. Yes, before the Web. I have learned the hard way to value reliability and privacy. My password list is huge and my information is spread around the globe. I am trying to minimize that, not increase it.

Like it or not, a great many of your potential donors have a PayPal account. Take advantage of that rather than forcing us to create yet another account on another payment site that we may not have heard of and which just adds another point of vulnerability for our financial information.

And, like someone else suggested earlier, send an annual plea to all of your users. Wikipedia does it and they are pretty successful as far as I can see.

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How about K-9 mail joining Open Collective?
Accept donations and sponsorships, celebrate your supporters, pay expenses, and keep everyone up to date — all in one place.

How about K-9 mail join Bountysource?

What is Bountysource?

Bountysource is the funding platform for open-source software. Users can improve the open-source projects they love by creating/collecting bounties and pledging to fundraisers.

What types of projects are allowed on Bountysource?

Any type of Open-Source or Free Software (as in speech) projects are allowed. Generally speaking, any software licenses approved by either the Open Source Initiative or the Free Software Foundation are acceptable.

I always make donations to free software that I use frequently. I don’t have any expectancy other than the software continues to be useful to me.

Thank you for developing and supporting this product. And yes, I’d happily pay for what I use.
As I gather you are based in France and look for funding in EUR, could you please post an IBAN for me to make a donation. Or send it to my e-mail that you have on file. Krgds HC