There are fewer barriers than ever before for those who wish to build something on the web, whether an online journal, a website with tools for teaching, or a digitized collection of rare and unique materials. Yet, no matter who creates these resources or how they were initially funded, there are substantial costs involved in keeping digital resources up and running for the long term while continuing to deliver value to those who use them.

With the support of the Jisc-led Strategic Content Alliance (SCA), Ithaka S+R has developed A Guide to the Best Revenue Models and Funding Sources for your Digital Resources to support those who are actively maintaining digital projects and are seeking to develop funding models that will permit them to continue investing in their projects, for the benefit of their users, over time.

This report updates Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources (2008) in two major ways.  First, we have expanded the list of revenue models covered in order to take into account emerging models, highlighting those methods that are compatible with open access. Second, the report places the notion of “revenue generation” in the context of the fuller range of funding activities we have observed in higher education and the cultural sector. In addition to practices more often seen in the commercial world like advertising and corporate sponsorships, the report devotes time to discussions of a range of philanthropic sources of support as well as support offered by host institutions.

For each revenue model and funding source covered in the guide, we provide an overview, case studies, and current trends. The guide also explores which types of projects are best suited to specific models, allowing project leaders to quickly determine which methods fit with their needs. We hope that the greatest value of this guide and its articles will be as a framework, a starting point to encourage project leaders to develop new ideas for supporting their work, before gathering the most current data and actively testing these ideas against the specific circumstances of their projects and their audiences.

Models Covered:

Author (or Contributor) Pays
Consulting and Other Services
Corporate Sponsorship
Freemium Models
Host Institution Support
Membership Models
Licensing of Content and Software
Purchase or pay-per-use