I have tried nearly 100 minecraft factions servers, and I have not found a single one that is not completely pay to win. Back when I began playing this game, this wasn't an issue, but nowadays factions is just unplayable. Does anybody know of a server that doesn't give donators absurdly overpowered gear, or is this hopeless?
Not many factions servers are not pay to win, i would advise going to towny war, most servers in that genre are not pay to win and only give donators minor perks, a good one to check out is civwars, releasing next month. Discord link for it is here: https://discord.gg/Kjx2A8Z
I do know that there are nations or interesting mish-mash servers that only have cosmetics and donations rather than pay-to-win. Some such as Recrafted Civilizations or Twilightcraft don't involve themselves in pay-to-win, which I adore. Feel free to also check out The Atlas Project, it's online right now and might fit the bill for you on some aspects.