I was busy earlier and never got the chance for a long write-up of follow up statements about the initial post.
I could probably make a second post for this but I'll just say... Sorry, this reply might be a little long.
While I agree with the idea of being able to trade pins in for RD and LD, I have some reservations about this system. First off, for anyone that is just straight up donating for RD or LD pins, is the price of these pins going to be $400 and $1000, respectively?
Now to get into some issues I foresee with this system being implemented. I'd like to point out that I do not have access to any data that involves donations and how often people buy pins. That being said, I have been logging in consistently and its only every few days that I see a new name in game. I'm confident in saying that I believe that generally the same people are logging into the game and those people, for the most part, have some tier of donator status already. People will always continue to donate for pins to at least some degree in my opinion. However, I believe that the demand for actually donating for pins will plummet if new players requiring pins to actual get access to DI and DIE do not join the server. This point will hopefully be irrelevant when we start advertising because there should be at least some degree of an influx in players.
This actually leads me into my second point which is directly related to the proposed new system for exchanging pins for an RD or LD rank. I believe that the two higher tier donator ranks should be obtainable both through the current method and the proposed method and here's why. If people are not donating for large amounts of pins due to the lack of any benefits to having a large total donation amount, then the proposed system won't work since people will not have anything to actually exchange.
I don't know if I'm supposed to bring up other versions of Near Reality, but the one I am about to mention has long since died off. On Drax's version of Near Reality, once a player donated enough to achieve Respected Donator (the highest donator rank on said server), a button in the store would appear along the lines of "Apply Respected Donator" and would lead the player to an area where they would select which of their in game accounts it would be applied to (multiple in game accounts could be linked to the same forums accounts, which is a feature I would like to see on here but that's for another day).
The same server also added a feature towards the end of its life that allowed players to donate for other players using a middleman. In the store there was an option to type in a player's name and then go through the whole donation process. The intended player would receive in store points and would have given items or money to a staff middleman for the trade. Once the points had appeared in the buyer's store balance, then the middleman would trade the items over to the donator. This concept helps to encourage people to donate to the server itself in exchange for NRGP at around the same cost effectiveness as buying OSRS gold and buying pins then selling pins for NRGP.
This next bit correlates to the paragraph directly above but will involve a little bit of math to show how the idea I proposed will somewhat pan out. All of the prices will be in USD
On every version of NR, it has always been more cost-effective to purchase RuneScape gold and buy pins with it than actually donating to the server itself. Currently, donating for a single DI pin costs $15. A player can then sell this pin for around 5-6B in the current economy. That being said, with the same $15 a player can go to an OSRS gold selling website and get around 18M gp. In the current economy, pins are being sold for 4M OSRS gp and with 10% middleman fees that makes it 4.4M per pin. The same player can get 4 pins for the price of 1 through NR. This means that for $15 a player can get 20-24B on NR instead of 5-6B. The whole reason I bring this up is for an idea that I have brushed on briefly early and will try to delve more into now.
The proposed system of being able to exchange donator pins for higher ranks needs to exist WITH the current method of achieving RD and LD through total donation amount. Players looking to achieve a high donator rank just through donating will still be able to do so, but also allows a method for people who, for example, do not have the income to donate to achieve the ranks as well. Currently, buying 27 and 67 pins will net the player the RD and LD ranks, respectively. I propose that this new proposed exchange system require a larger number of pins to achieve said ranks (will encourage more donations imo). Just off the top of my head, exchanging 45 pins for RD and maybe 100 for LD? The concept of "Donating for others" also comes into effect here. I'm going to use myself as an example as I have donated exactly $400 and obviously need $600 to go if I wanted LD through the current method. A player I wanted to make a deal with could donate however much and I could offer to pay the right price for the donation towards my account in terms of a $/M of OSRS value to an NRGP value that I talked about earlier. This would mean that if I found someone to donate $600 in one go for me, I would receive 7150 store points (based on current store prices) and I would then trade the donator 240-288B NRGP based on current pin prices. This helps to encourage people to donate to our server rather than buying OSRS gold, buying pins for OSRS gold, then selling pins for NRGP.
Obviously, every idea has its flaws and I'm sure people can find many in my ideas, but this is just some stuff I thought of off the top of my head. The one biggest flaw I see is that $/M OSRS prices fluctuate and also vary depending on the gold selling site, so we would need to figure out which website to base my idea off of in terms of prices.