As the Awards Manager for the (much smaller than SOTA and localised on the English Lake District) Wainwrights On The Air (WOTA)Programme, I can comment here on how our system works.
A PDF certificate is available free of charge and every WOTA Award claimant receives one of these certificates automatically once a claim is confirmed. In addition some claimants choose to support the WOTA Programme by purchasing a professionally produced laser printed certificate on quality 200 gsm silk card. These are mailed out in the same way as the SOTA Certificates are. These certificates cost £5 each inclusive of the carded envelope and postage. If more than one certificate is claimed and ordered at the same time extra certificates cost £2 each. As with SOTA the small sums raised pay for the running of the WOTA Website ISP services.
So how popular is paying for certificates when they can be obtained free of charge?
Our programme has been running since 2009. I have issued exactly 50 Awards since we started, so it is quite small scale compared to SOTA.
But how popular is paying for certificates?
Out of the 50 certificates issued to activators and chasers. In 9 instances operators have chosen not to purchase a printed posted certificate and so have just used the free pdf which was sent. In the remaining 41 instances WOTA Claimants have opted to receive a printed certificate and support the scheme financially.
WOTA Awards Manager & SOTA Chaser/Activator