Hello! I'm quite new player, but the main disadvantage for me is.. server lag and response to my commands. I can't fight, when I receive combat output messages with huge lag, I stay and I even don't know whether I am hit or no, then receive messages about death. Same with walking through locations. Maybe it's slow, because I play from Europe and your server is in the US, but I don't have such problem with other American-based muds.
So, what do I suggest:
1st step. ) Change concept and take little donations from player, e.g. 2-5 bucks / month and spend it on good connection. I think it won't be problem for players who already play for a long time and for new as well.
2nd step. ) Try crowdfunding on the Kickstarter for the new server and sell there some sponsored packs + show interest from donations.
Don't hesitate to experiment, game is really interesting and with future. I wish I could invest much time more, but I am not ready to spend my time on lags, it's easier for me to donate/pay for a good connection, save time and earn money in real life.