I've only been on BPL for 39 days and a member for 38 days, but I'm more likely to use Gearswap to buy or sell since it is within a more cloistered group. That's not to say that 98% of non-members aren't on the up and up, and we recently saw that gear going between members can go awry as well, but, for me, I'm more likely to use Gearswap with the new policy in place.
I wonder if the BPL owners have some blindspots for being in the thick of it:
People like me, who have a paycheck and diposable income are MORE likely to join/donate just because it seems like the right thing to do but feel LESS need to use Gearswap because a few bucks is just a few bucks. While college students and wage slaves are LESS likely to join in part because of their perceived poverty but also because of a generational experience of bytes and pixels being free while being MORE in need of Gearswap to save a few bucks. There's also the idealism of the young, a certain feeling of entitlement to anything that once was free, and IMO a cluelessness about the downsides of the alternatives: higher prices and higher transaction costs on eBay, lots of flakes on Craigslist, a poorly targeted market anywhere else, etc. If eBay let you sell unlimited stuff with no transaction cost to vetted customers for only $20/year, that would be a huge bargain and would reduce their income so much, they'd go under.
Who's your market for memberships? People who pony up for something they see as valuable? Or people who whine that everything in the world isn't free for them?
I think you probably haven't and won't bring in much membership money with this change, but it makes Gearswap more attractive to me as a member.