What Does Donationware Mean?

Donationware is a software product that is offered to the public for free, along with requests for optional donations. Donationware is commonly considered a type of freeware because users can obtain the full product without paying for a license.


Techopedia Explains Donationware

Donationware offers an alternative model for those who want to collect money to offset the cost of creating software products. One way to think about donationware is that a developer or small company can operate on a lean business model where, instead of paying for all of the costs involved in selling software, developers can simply distribute programs for free and ask for donations from users to cover nominal costs. Because the upfront, overhead cost is lower, those who make donationware may be able to recoup costs through donations. Donationware also helps get around the issue of piracy.

Donationware can also be a way to promote a particular design philosophy in IT that could be called collaborative. One example is the Ubuntu Linux product offered by Canonical. The idea is that while users often get involved in the development of software through testing, providing input, or otherwise interacting with software products, they can also assist by effectively crowdfunding a new software product or version.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.