Alright, we have big news: there is now a "donate" page on Tatoeba. The link is still shyly hiding in the footer of the website, because we're not yet making any sort of campain, but it's there :)
What we would need donations for?
On various occasions people have been wondering why doesn't Tatoeba have a donate button somewhere, or why don't we ask for donations. We never really gave an official reply to this, but to make it short: it's because we never really needed it.
I wouldn't say we really need it now (the project is not going to die without donations), but it seems to me that it is not going to grow much more without a financial boost, and that is for two main things: a new a server, and hiring people.
About the server
You may or may not know this, but we never really paid for hosting.
The website currently runs (since April 2010) on a server provided by the FSF France. They host us for free (on the obvious condition that we only run free software on their servers).
Before this, it was hosted for free by an acquaintance of Trang who was paying for a server but didn't use much of it, so he was fine letting some other website run on it. Later on we donated him back some money as a thank you for hosting the project for something like two years.
Even before, it was hosted on a server from Trang's university, again for free.
And even before, it was hosted on the free webspace provided by Sourceforge when you opened a project on their platform. I'm not sure if they still provide this service, maybe Tatoeba's prototype is still accessible somewhere, from some obscure URL.
It's clear however that to fulfill the growing needs of the project, we will have to move to our own dedicated server at some point in a very near future.
We haven't decided on a host yet, but it would probably cost something around 60€/months, and it is something we will do with or without donations. Donations will still be welcome (since this is not a negligeable cost) to cover the expenses and to ensure that Tatoeba will have enough funds to pay for a dedicated server for at least the next few years. For you to get an idea, based on 60€/month, it would cost close to 1500€ to secure 2 years of hosting.
About hiring people
This is more of a long term goal.
The fact is, we do currently have 4 students working on Tatoeba related projects as part of the Google Summer of Code program (3 months during which students are coding on an open source project). You could say they do it as a job more than just a hobby, since they will receive $5500 from Google for completing successfully their projects.
A few years back, sysko had also did a 3 months internship within Tatoeba, as part of his senior year's project. The internship was funded from part of a grant that Tatoeba received from Mozilla. Although, to be honest, I wouldn't count these 3 months as sysko working on Tatoeba as a job, because he would have probably worked just as much on Tatoeba if he had 3 months of vacations instead.
Anyway, trying to get the financial resources through grants or by participating to programs such as Google Summer of Code requires a lot of time. It can also have some limitations. Google Summer of Code takes place only during the summer for instance. What if we just want one person to spend one day a week on maintenance tasks?
Hiring people will definitely cost more than paying for a dedicated server. It depends on the kind of skills and the kind of tasks we would need to be done, but I do not expect Tatoeba to raise enough money through donations to actually have people working on the project as a job anytime soon. I still wanted to mention that if we happen to receive more money than needed to pay for the server, it will be kept in the hope that someday we won't have to rely on volunteer work to get things done.
Tatoeba now accepts donations (woohoo~). We will use the money donated to pay for a new server at first, and if we can raise enough, to pay for people to work on the project.