Since 1990, the WTS no longer asks directly for money for the publications either from their members or people at the door. Some JWs may say something about donating to the "worldwide work" without suggesting an amount. All the JWs I knew were too embarrassed to ask at the door. At the kingdom hall the JWs donate anonymously into a box in the back of the kingdom hall. Most don't. I know from being married (or closely) related to the men who handled the accounts. Many congregations are behind in their mortgages and utility bills. There are 2 boxes (sometimes 3) in the KH for separate uses 1) local kingdom hall expenses, mortgage and utilities 2) "worldwide work" money collected or donated by the local JWs to send to the headquarters (Bethel) 3) money fund to build kingdom halls in other areas. Most months the money for the worldwide work was low....
Actually, my husband calculated that out of 30 families, only 5 donated each month (he could tell by the checks).
Some money is collected at each assembly/convention from the donations of the local JWs to send to headquarters. The elders decide how much (acutally the CO "suggests" the amount, usually $5 per active JW in that circuit). Some money comes from direct donations or "loans" from JWs seeking a tax break. Some comes just from the millions in the bank that are not yet committed to a building project.
In years past before 1990, there was a steady flow of funds from the local JWs their payment for the publications....but no more. I think the WTS has been having to dip more and more into their cash surplus to support their building complexes. The older they get they more it costs to keep them up. Patterson is a multi-million dollar affair, but even it needs utilities, waste treatment, fire protection (all things the WTS has had to pay for to keep the local municpalities happy about their presence).
Even in the days gone by before 1990, the average JW only broke even if they "placed" all the literature they purchased from the WTS. Only pioneers got their literature at a discount and even that had ended several years before 1990.
So no individual JWs are making any moola from placing their publications. The only ones getting money are the circuit and district overseers and special pioneers and definitely not enough to rent a room and maintain a vehicle.
Blondie (seen it all)