I have this project, where I'm about to create a political debate website. The election time in my country has just passed so there are quite a few people with questions for the politicians, and it would be good for the political system as a whole to have some debates running for the full cycle of the particular government. So the question is:
Where do I draw the line between non-profit and a regular project? I have though about this a lot. It would be somewhat detrimental to the sites popularity, if the were advertisements on the pages, and the site would become more prone to manipulation by political forces.
On the other hand, this would bring in a lot of money if executed right. The people are still worked up about this, and the amount of visitors would be huge.
So, what should I do?
I can't speak for your country, but in the U.S. the term non-profit is really just a tax classification.
In the U.S. non-profit organizations are allowed to make a profit, just like any other business. The only difference is that non-profit organizations must spend all of their profits by the end of the year. So if through out the tax year, a non-profit made $100,000 in profits, they must spend that $100,000 before the end of the tax year. Whereas a for profit business can elect to keep that $100,000 in the bank to reinvest in the business the following tax year.
So, in your case, you can have ads on your website even if you are a non-profit. You can also charge for the service even if you are non-profit. You will have expenses, so it's only fair that you at least recoup those costs to breakeven.
I would say that you need to make it non-partisan instead of non-profit. It's perfectly fine to make a profit if you provide a valuable service to the community. You could even donate some of your profits to causes that support open and fair elections or whatever.
The trick with these types of sites is your credibility. If there is a sense that you are being bought off, then that will crater your idea quickly.
You don't need to put ads on your page per se or you could have people sponsor your site (as long as they are neutral).
I draw the line heavy on the profit side. about 1% on the non profit side, and 99% on the profit.