Welcome to the forums!
Yes, you are right. I started this website in 2005 and I got an email from a gentleman that wanted to donate to the site in 2006 or so. I thought that was really generous but didn't think others would donate. However, I added a donation button and before long, the site was pretty much supported via donations.
Out of gratitude, I wanted to offer something special to those that had donated (even though they were donating out of gratitude, I guess.) I had the Little Town cards and thought those would make a nice thank you gift. But, the cards are really useful and I didn't want to lock them up. I also realize some people don't have the means or would rather not donate. So, I display them on the website and also have them as a motivational tool to get people join in on the forums.
The forums are a great place for me to interact with site visitors, meet some of the people who visit, hear how they use MES resources, and learn from their ideas. Having the forums has really been good for me as I continue to work on the site.
Anyway, I hope to read more about what you are doing there and about any ideas or questions you may have.