Long time followers of MathOverflow will know that as well as the website, hosted by StackExchange, and moderated by the moderation team with all of your help, there is an independent 501(c)(3) organization called MathOverflow, whose primary role is to ensure the long term success of the website. In particular, “MathOverflow Inc” has a legal agreement with StackExchange that allows us to separate amicably if the need arises, in particular taking the complete data and name, and allowing us to find our own hosting arrangements. While we certainly hope this won’t ever need to happen, and we’re very happy with all the help and support StackExchange provides us, it’s important that MathOverflow in this sense “belongs to the mathematicians”, held in trust by this legal body.

The board members of “MathOverflow Inc” are Anton Geraschenko, Ben Webster, David Zureick-Brown, François Dorais, Scott Morrison, Todd Trimble, Scott Carnahan, Mariano Suárez-Alvarez and Ravi Vakil. We meet (virtually) every year, and discuss long term issues around MathOverflow. In particular, projects such as obtaining a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, generating trackbacks to the arXiv, and implementing the “citation search” feature on MathOverflow, supported by a Zentralblatt backend, have been overseen by the board. We’ve also done a small amount of work ensuring we know approximately what we’d do in the event of needing to leave StackExchange.

There are some minor expenses involved in making all this happen. There are the legal costs of starting and maintaining 501(c)(3) status, there have been some hosting costs for generating trackbacks and supporting the citation search feature (although due to Zentralblatt’s support these are now fairly minimal) and of course in order to be able to do those things we need a MathOverflow bank account, etc. During the development of the citation search feature we paid a MathOverflow user for some coding work for a demo.

So far, this has all been funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and kind donations from a small number of generous donors (in fact, from amongst the board members). It’s time, however, to ask for a little more help, and this post serves to announce the existence of a link allowing you to donate to MathOverflow! We’re not looking for much at this point — really just enough to ensure we have the minor legal and hosting costs covered, and to reach the minimum balance on the bank account to avoid fees!


If PayPal is impractical for you and you still want to make a donation, you can send a check drawn from a US bank or an international money order in US dollars to: MathOverflow, c/o Department of Mathematics, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305. Send an email to [email protected] if you have questions.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, donations and other contributions to MathOverflow are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I didn't even hesitate to do this, but the PayPal website is a pain in the neck, and I just can't deal with it anymore. Is there any other way that I can wire some money? Perhaps with less bells and whistles, but maybe with a website that actually tells me what the problem is, and not just require me to "fix my phone number" and re-type my banking details ten times, including various CAPTCHA that may or may not actually show up? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Oct 29, 2017 at 23:16
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: If you (or anyone else) really can't use PayPal, then contact [email protected] and the treasurer (currently me) will find something more convenient. $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2017 at 23:26
  • 15
    $\begingroup$ Will there be some survey of how much money was donated, and how is it going to be used? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Oct 30, 2017 at 14:23
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ It is mentioned here that MO "belongs to the mathematicians". What is the definition of "mathematician" here - is each user of MO considered a mathematicion ? Namely, can I feel co-owner of MO as well ? Regards, $\endgroup$
    – user21230
    Oct 30, 2017 at 15:42
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @MarekMitros: Yes, you should feel like a co-owner. The whole reason why the MathOverflow NPO exists is to protect and preserve this wonderful tool for current and future mathematicians. Also see this old faq: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/969/who-owns-mathoverflow $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2017 at 21:23
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: As a 501(c)(3), we are required to provide that information. Right now, because our revenues and expenses are considered minimal by the IRS (less than 50K annually) our disclosure requirements are basically nil (i.e., we don't make enough to hire an accountant to produce official annual disclosures). However, we are happy to share any financial information! (Before this post, besides one rather generous donation to set up our bank account, our expenses were very minimal and were paid out-of-pocket by board members.) $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2017 at 21:33
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Nearly 72 hours into the donations, may I ask how much money was donated so far? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 1, 2017 at 14:14
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ There's some disagreement amongst the board on this question still, so we decided not to announce a specific target. Everyone's suggested goal was over $3000, however. $\endgroup$ Nov 2, 2017 at 22:17
  • 34
    $\begingroup$ typically, fundraising efforts like this work best if there is some feedback: like the total amount raised and the amount of individual donations (anonymously); a target also helps to create a sense of how we're doing. $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2017 at 23:07
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I definitely agree with @Carlo, and I think that having some sort of "goal" and "progress" available could be helpful. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 6, 2017 at 12:37
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ So, another week passed. How are we doing? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 9, 2017 at 2:34
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ We're now at \$817.82 USD. Thanks everyone who's contributed so far. We've had all sorts of donations from \$5 up to \$100. $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2017 at 0:34
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ For anyone keeping track, we have just passed \$1000 in donations. Thanks everyone who has contributed. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2017 at 0:25
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I think we're only a tiny bit past my update 5 days ago, that we passed \$1000. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2017 at 0:32
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ So, a slightly different question, do you have a deadline for donations in this campaign, or is this open season all year long for donating? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 30, 2017 at 7:51


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