As the cost of living increases and the nation becomes more shrewd with its spending habits, we’re looking at how charities might be able to maintain and even grow their regular giving through this challenging period.

A great way to help increase regular giving is by offering a subscription or membership to your supporters. We’ve seen a growing trend from charities as we come out of the pandemic of creating new digital subscription products. The idea of these subscriptions or memberships is to encourage a regular monthly gift by giving something of value back to the subscriber.

This is particularly popular with the health and well-being sector. We have worked with the British Heart Foundation to launch their MyBHF membership and Prostate Cancer UK to launch their Move for Men monthly membership. Both charities offer their members regular, tailored content based on their users’ interests that is ‘gated’ behind the subscription, which is then exclusive to subscribers.

We helped Parkinson’s UK build its Team Parkinson’s, a membership area on their site that helps its subscribers by giving them ideas and assistance for fundraising activities, as well as providing updates and information about the charity to them.

But membership and subscriptions aren’t restricted to health and wellbeing. YMCA have a popular sponsorship programme where supporters can become a ‘Roomsponsor’ to help transform the lives of young people. The YMCA provides its ‘Roomsponsor’ with a welcome pack, thank you gift and regular feedback from the young people who are turning their lives around thanks to the charity’s support.

And we have also recently worked on, and launched, the NMRN (National Museum of the Royal Navy) membership site, where the museum provides members with exclusive content that showcases the history and collections of the Royal Navy as well as offers on days out to various sites and exhibitions.

Why offer a subscription or membership?

As personal budgets are getting tighter and getting your charity voice heard harder, thinking of different ways to stand out in the crowd is becoming more important.

By offering something in return for a supporter’s regular giving, you can considerably increase your engagement with potential supporters, and the benefits of your subscription can offer an alternative angle to promote regular support for your charity.

What are the benefits to your charity offering a subscription option?

By having a subscription service you can;

  • build a more dependable channel of recurring income,
  • create relationships and supporter loyalty,
  • build a community and
  • exponentially grow your supporter base without additional resource.
What benefits can your charity offer to subscribers?

You can give supporters meaningful value through the subscription, which can include resources such as;

  • additional education about the charity and the cause it’s supporting,
  • exclusive information that they can’t find anywhere else,
  • materials they can use in their day-to-day lives to help them improve in some way,
  • encouragement that drives members toward achieving their own goals and
  • an accessible community of like-minded people.
What’s your subscription idea?

By understanding its supporter audience, Team Parkinson’s has a short but inspired line in its subscription area;

We don’t want cost to stop anyone from being able to join. Just chip in whatever you can, even if that’s nothing right now.”

Although they don’t highlight this line, it shows their aim is to promote active involvement by their supporters rather than just income generation. They understand helping their supporters’ desire to actively support is engaging to them, but appreciate not all their supporters may be able to afford a paid subscription.

However, it’s key to note the subscription creates a commitment to the charity, with the probability that the subscriber will be more likely to donate / re-subscribe with a donation when they can.

So think about what you are looking to offer your subscriber and how. goDonate works with charities to offer brainstorming workshops to work through both the aim, activity and audience definition for a subscription offering, as well as the technical ‘mechanics’.

Content is key

High quality content is what matters. Nobody’s going to subscribe to something they don’t value. What can you offer that nobody else in your area does? To develop this, it’s essential to be testing and validating ideas, and gathering as much feedback and data as possible from your supporters.

Exclusive content could include;

  • organisation news and updates,
  • advice articles,
  • discussion podcasts,
  • how-to videos,
  • webinars,
  • dates for diary,
  • discount vouchers etc.

It is vital to keep content and offerings fresh and regular. When paying for it, supporters will expect a high level of service. And as you build a community you will gain valuable feedback and insight for future content planning and progression.

Considering a subscription or membership service

The initial three key considerations to think about before embarking on a subscription or membership area for your charity are:

The content

To create a meaningful subscription proposition and its ongoing content you will need to know who your target supporters are and what you want to give them. Offering exclusive advice and information on ‘training for a marathon’ may not be so relevant if your target supporters are over 70 (possibly!)

The resource

Not just financial budget but people power – what can you realistically provide as a membership or sponsorship? What additional resource is involved to get up and running, and keep on delivering the exclusive benefits of subscription that you’re offering? Eg. a membership with discounted prices to venues or exhibits might require both human and tech resource to process, whereas a monthly subscription of a newsletter / exclusive information may only take a couple of hours out of the week for a colleague to set-up and automate the despatch.

The tech

What tech / mechanics are involved in creating the membership or subscription area? How are new registrations going to be taken, how will the recurring fees be processed and keep the data secure? Will you use a third-party to implement the area or in-house? Can you use a plug-in to your existing website, or will a micro-site be needed? goDonate can provide a seamless platform to work with your existing website, where transactional processes and security safeguards are in place. As experts in the field, we at goDonate also understand the challenges of integrating with CRMs, payment systems and email platforms that are required for a frictionless user experience.

In Conclusion

Content is key. Tech is vital!

Where content exists, that people value, a subscription or membership programme for your charity will inevitably grow revenue and support for your organisation.

There are a number of tools to help create a subscription / membership area on your site; but remember to seriously consider which tools will be right for you and your website, the tech knowledge your organisation has internally and the resource to manage the area, to ultimately ensure the highest quality user experience for your supporter members.

Contact us at goDonate to see how we can help you define and develop a subscription offering for your supporters:

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