While I will never charge nor accept donations for my sidewalk astronomy sessions, I will accept donations on my web site (although I do not actively encourage it).
Donations to the web site are used to fund a variety of incidental expenses and to support projects and initiatives I have undertaken. For example, I have used donations made to the web site to buy red light flashlights, laminated lunar maps and Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas which were then given to the schools participating in the Scopes for Schools project. Donations may also be used for the purchase of the safe solar viewing glasses I give freely to people who stop at my solar telescopes. Some tools, like the Moon Gazer Guides or the Star-Finders, I pay shipping charges myself.
What donations are not used for is the maintenance or purchase of my astronomy equipment. For example, having a broken high quality eyepiece repaired recently cost me over $200. Batteries, filters, cables, etc. are all private purchases.
As I have recently been asked about issuing a tax receipt for a donation or contribution I must make it perfectly clear that neither the Sidewalk Astronomers of Charlottetown nor I are registered as not-for-profit or charitable entities. Consequently, neither the SAC group nor I can issue a tax receipt for a donation or contribution.
I greatly appreciate any and all donations I receive, which are few mind you, and I can assure any donor their generosity will be put to good use. Public outreach and public astronomy depend upon the good will of many people and this is exemplified in the raffles and telescope sales I organize. The outcome from these events is always for the benefit of the public, and that is how it should be.
So if you really want to make that donation, feel free to do so and know that it will be put to good use. Just don’t expect a tax receipt.