"none of them are offering to do the necessary work"? How can a user do the work of not breaking something! Only the developers can do that.
Your answer drips with disdain. If the development effort breaks a feature, then of course you will find few users of that feature when you look around for them later. If you allow konqueror to rot, then of course by the time chrome comes around people will switch out of necessity.
Me, I thought that konqueror was indeed one of the killer features of KDE back in the day. I switched to chrome, recently, only because the web itself has changed and konqueror didn't keep pace with it.
You suggest that users should sponsor developer time to keep a feature from being broken in the next release ... how would one even know this was necessary? Before it breaks, how are the users to know it will break? And even after something breaks, unless you publicize that developer resources are the limiting factor in that particular breakage, how would we know to offer, or lobby for, support? For instance, will we ever see Kprinter again? It was promised real soon now through the early versions of 4.x; now it seems to have dropped off the TODO list altogether. Would offers of developer support bring it back? Where can I sign up? If sufficient user-generated underwriting is promised, is there a promise of a working and supported KDE print interface in return?
Bitter? Me? Not really - I still prefer KDE to the alternatives. In fact version 4.recent is very nice, barring the lack of a print tool. But I sure wish the the developers in both the gnome and KDE camps would get a clue about the importance of not breaking things. There is a substantial group of users who would restate your prioritization to read: if the project has a limited budget to work with, paying someone to develop eye candy rather than to keep the core components working is a waste of scarce resources.
So here's to KDE - a toast to 15 years. May it continue to thrive. Like many teen-agers, it's family suffered a bit during a period of adolescent trauma, but we hope that's now behind us.