Ep 198 | The Subscription Model and NonProfits

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Monthly giving programs are a great way to support your fundraising efforts and manage cashflow. Plus, your monthly donors are your biggest fans, often giving extra gifts on top of their monthly contributions.

There are so many different ways you can craft your monthly giving campaign – some that are right under your nose. This episode shares some ways you can think about subscription models and your donor program in a new way.

What you'll learn:

→ rethinking season tickets to increase income.
→ adding on donations to monthly fees.
→ make the impact clear and easy.
→ create a premium newsletter

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[5:02] Re-thinking your season tickets. Could you offer bundles instead of 1-2 tickets per show? Maybe you want people to be able to prepay throughout the year instead of a one-time payment for a program or service. 
[7:52] Ask people to give a little extra on their currently monthly payment. If you charge monthly for your service, like music lessons or tuition, make it an option for them to give a little extra on top of it. Be sure to communicate clearly that their tuition covers 75%  of the cost, for example, and that their additional contribution will help fill the gap.
[14:39] Create a premium newsletter. You can generate income from monthly newsletter as well as sell sponsorship by matching up businesses with your list of targeted people. This is a great way to get more visibility all around while making income.


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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, we are kicking off a month all around monthly giving. And I love a good monthly giving program. And I'm sure that you have one or you have an option on your donation form to allow people to do monthly giving. But I'm going to put a little bit of a different twist on it today.

We know that the subscription space, whether it be streaming, whether it be digital, whether it be physical boxes is exploding right now and continues to trend upward, as far as percentages of companies that are adding this as a model to their business, as well as those that are increasing their revenue and increasing their sales from the subscriptions that they already have. And it's always changing and evolving. And companies are coming up with new and unique ways to do it. I mean, think about when peloton came out, they had an exercise bike, great, but they added a streaming service to add personalized exercise opportunities and still generate recurring revenue. So a product that you might buy once then turns into something that is recurring revenue.

So today, I wanted to chat with you a little bit about some unique ways that you might be able to kind of think about a recurring revenue model, a subscription model, or a monthly giving program in a different way when it comes to your organization. It doesn't just have to be a monthly giving program.

Now later in the month, we're going to be talking about some other things around that like how to market it, how to expand on it, how to have better one on one conversations. But for today, I really want you to just get creative, brainstorm, think about the subscriptions that you're part of the ones that you love the ones that you wish you were part of? And how can you kind of take that inspiration to create something fun, and create new revenue sources for your organization. Because really, at the core of it, the beauty of a monthly giving campaign, or a subscription model is that consistency and cashflow and that consistency in revenue.

For example, we have monthly maintenance plans for all the websites that we create, which allows us to stay in touch with our customers, stay personal with them and help them keep up one of their biggest digital assets, their website all the time so that they don't have a issue with that or that they do they come to us and we are the ones that support them. So we take a website project that is a one time thing, and then create recurring revenue from it in a way that's a win win for everybody. Right? Some of you listeners might be on a recurring monthly maintenance plans.

So today, I'm going to give you some fun ideas and things to think about when it comes to these giving campaigns and how you can add value to your donors. And also then still generate revenue for your business. Sound good? You with me? I'm excited for this, this is going to be fun.

But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our quiz, should you DIY your website, you're not 100% happy with your website and you're thinking about making a change or you know, it needs a massive update or you have a bunch of tech things that just aren't working and playing nice together. Check out our free quiz at https://thefirstclick.net/quiz. At the end, you'll get some resources to help you with wherever you're at with regards to time, budget, staff technical knowledge so that you can move forward with a website project in the easiest fashion for you a way that's going to be less painful, less expensive, and just really help you get the end result that you need. So again, https://thefirstclick.net/quiz. Take our free quiz, should you DIY your website and figure out what the best next step is for you. For now, let's get into the episode.

[Intro] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Now, I want to preface this by saying not all of these ideas will work for you and your organization. And I might not even be coming up with the best examples. But I hope that what you hear is going to inspire you to come up with something new and different. And maybe even just reach out to your other nonprofit colleagues and listen to this episode together and maybe brainstorm together more with your teammates, how you might be able to utilize some of these ideas in your organization. Because what happens is when we are inside of our own bubble all the time, sometimes it's hard to think outside the box or three think creatively. But when we talk to other people, sorry about the dog, they give us ideas and ways that we can think about our products or services, the way we serve our community, our clients the way we serve our donors in ways that maybe we don't necessarily think about. So I want you to take this in. And then I want you to think about who you can talk to either in your organization or outside your organization, colleagues, donors volunteers, to help you brainstorm some fun ways that you might be able to incorporate these things into your organization. So let's Get started.

So the first one is season tickets. So you might be a museum, you might be a professional organization, like a choir or an orchestra, you might have kids programs, whatever it is, if you're selling tickets for a regular season, or over the year, of course, you probably have thought about season tickets, but maybe think about them in a different way. So could you sell, you have to buy like the traditional season ticket, right? One ticket to every show, you buy them in bulk, or two, or three. So I know two of us are going to go to the show every time. So I'm going to buy two season tickets. Instead, you can maybe think about also adding bulk tickets. So maybe it's I can buy 10 tickets at a different rate, and you know that you're getting them in a little bit earlier, you're getting a certain amount of revenue, and then you just have to determine when they have to choose. So maybe it's I know, I'm going to need 10 people to come to this show. Or maybe I have three people that are gonna go to this show five people that are gonna go to this show, and two people that are going to go to the next show, right? So how can you creatively bundle tickets together to make it more enticing for people to buy more at one time that you can follow up with on a regular basis. The other thing you can do here is could you create an annual pass, so maybe it's $20 a month, and they get credit towards whatever your season is. But you know, you're going to get that $20 A month as opposed to having that big rush, when a season opens or when enrollment happens. You can have payments going consistently over time that they build credit towards the tickets they want to purchase, or the events that they want to attend coming up. That's another way to think about kind of bundling things and controlling your cash flow. Because really, that's what all of these ideas are about, right? Like how can we control the cash flow to make sure that we can continue to provide the quality services that we're used to. So think about different ways to bundle tickets, different ways to reach out to people that are your season pass holders, different ways to really engage with your audience, to make it easy for them cost effective for them. I mean, heck, I'd rather spend $20 A month over the course of a year, then spend $300 In two months, because I have to like buy my season pass all at once, right? So something to think about.

The other thing that you could always do and should do is give people an option to donate, in addition to their tickets, when they're checking out should be pretty simple and easy to do with the software that you have most likely. But it's a great kind of passive way for those that want to to give and a knot in your face way for those that don't want to decline. So just keep it there as an option.

Okay, number two, if you have a monthly service, or you have let's say you're a school that has tuition, or you are an after school program, or you're something that is people are already paying a monthly service fee, music lessons, whatever it might be similar to how you would have that add on in your ticket sales. Always add that in also as an opportunity on your enrollment. Can we charge an additional $10 a month to like help us work through our additional costs. The best example that I can give is, let's say your private school and or like a daycare, having some language that says like, we strive to keep tuition as low as possible. Your tuition that you pay for your student covers 75% of the operational expenses necessary to keep the school running teacher salary, electricity, rent XYZ, would you consider tacking on an additional 10 or $20 a month to help us kind of close the gap on those expenses, right. So making it very clear that you are making sure that those fam that all families can attend or whatever it might be, but that it still doesn't cover all your operating expenses, right? Like we might think people inherently know that, but that's not usually something people think about. So adding that in when they register, great people can passively opt in or out if they want to. And as an enrollment person, making sure that you're having those conversations with the parents that you know, can give above and beyond what that tuition is. Because now you know, let's say it's 100 students giving $10 In a month extra that's an additional $1,000 a month that you have coming in, that you don't have to fundraise for that you can count on for the next year. And then you can just continue to have a plan to grow and scale. So it's not a traditional monthly giving campaign but is then becoming a monthly giving campaign, right? People are giving to your organization because they're trying to fill that gap in the expenses to income ratio. So that's another thing thing to think about. You could do this in a whole other variety of ways. But just even just saying, would you give $5, because we want to think about the psychology here. Think about how many streaming platforms are out there all at 499-790-9999, right? Things that you don't really think about, doesn't hit your bank account that hard that you're paying attention to it and that you'll cancel, right? So we want to do something similar to that. And then you're just continuing to build and grow. So your monthly giving program can have people that are at $500 $1,000, right? But that takes conversation time and growth. And so you got to start somewhere, start building and then start growing and generating more revenue from them.

The next one, that and this, this next one kind of goes back to messaging. So instead of saying, Hey, do you want to be a monthly donor, think about what your organization does and what they do regularly. So there's two things here that I'm going to kind of mentioned. So one would be a cash donation. So let's say you're a food bank, and you know, you need your regular output is 50 food boxes a week. So maybe instead of saying, Hey, would you come volunteer, or this is this is our impact? This is what we do reach out to people and say, Hey, would you be willing to sponsor two food boxes, or 10 food boxes, or 20 food boxes a week? That's going to be about $4? A week? So you know, $16 a month? Would you be willing to do that, but really tying that messaging back to direct impact. So you know, that money is going to go towards getting the food supplies, getting the boxes out the materials that are needed, what have you, but it's direct impact, I can feel good saying okay, yeah, I'm sponsoring. Like, because of me, 16 food boxes go out every single month, or whatever, and I'm feeding 16 families. So really thinking about your messaging around these campaigns, and how you can equate them very specifically, and then how you can go out and have conversation with people about that direct impact.

We're going to be talking about how to market your monthly giving programs in a couple of weeks. So make sure you stay tuned for that. So I won't go into it too in depth here. But that messaging is really critical, tying it back to your message and tying it back to the goals that you have for your organization. Now on the flip side, if you're looking for in kind contributions, I love having some things in place that make it easier for people to give.

So let's say you do have consumable items that need to be donated on a regular basis. So let's say you are a pregnancy support organization, or you support kids, younger kids that need recurring supplies, like diapers or formula or whatnot, how can you create a monthly giving program that makes it easy for people to give on a regular basis. So maybe it is, hey, every week that you're going to the grocery store, grab a pack of diapers, if you commit to giving to us monthly, we will come to your house to come pick up those supplies every single month, right? So that's the perk, like what are the things that you can take out of the equation, the pain points, so maybe it is dropping it off, attach it to a simple task that they're already doing, hey, you're at the store. As long as you commit to giving us four boxes of diapers every month, we will come to your house and pick them up. Now odds are people will give more than that. But just the fact that you're making it easy on them to give, then you can structure your time. So you know, maybe it's two times a month, they get to pick the day that's most ideal. They just leave the stuff outside, you just swing by and pick it up. You can have that structured in you could have a volunteer that does it. You can make it work for you, however, you have those time constraints. But it makes it so much easier for you to get the materials that you need. And then for those folks, you can send out an email once a month, Hey, these are the pickup days, please let us know which day is available to you. Here's some additional things that we're in need for. Right, gotten done one and done. Easy peasy. And you can help to continue to pull in more of those in kind contributions that you need in a way that's a win win for everyone else. So that's kind of two ways that I love kind of framing that monthly giving based around very much the values and the mission of what it is that your organization is trying to achieve.

Okay, this next one is probably my favorite. And that is a premium newsletter. So you might be a part of some of these already. Maybe not. You might see people asking you to join these maybe not. But a premium newsletter is basically a subscription that you pay for for a newsletter for additional content. And there's so much so many ways to monetize this. We can't even get into all of them right now. We might have to do another episode on this when we talk about email marketing later in the year. But here's how this works. So somebody pays you, you choose the amount $5 $15 $20 a month, and they get access to a premium newsletter, which is giving you premium content. This is not your general nurturer email, we're not going to go out to our entire list and say, Hey, like our newsletter now cost $5 a month. That's not the point. The point here is to provide additional value for people that are needing this extra content and needing some additional information.

So think about it like this. If you're a pet adoption agency, maybe you offer at adoption, Hey, would you like to join our premium newsletter, you will get weekly or monthly, whatever you want tips to your inbox on how to train, how to take care of how to support your pet food, recipes, all those things. So additional value to kind of really help support them in being the best for parents that they possibly can. Now, this is a win win, right? Because you know that the families are getting additional resources, you know, you want these animals to come into loving homes, and you're providing that resource for them. You could choose to have a pet one total, or you could have a dog, a cat, small animals, whatever you want to do. But it's a great way to continue to engage with these people that have already come to you for your products and services to get some premium content.

Let's say you're an art museum, and you want to, you know, for your season ticket holders or your Annual Pass holders, they can add on a premium newsletter for $5. And maybe that includes curated content, like q&a is with the artists that are coming through or additional history items or things that they're going to care about. It might even include things like early access to tickets, right, so it's almost like a VIP pass, you get notified of early access to tickets, you can buy, you know, certain sections of seats earlier than others, there are so many ways that you can create a premium newsletter and make it work for your organization.

Here's where it gets even better. So let's say your premium newsletter is literally just hey, every month we're going to send you Let's go back to the pet adoption situation, we're going to send you a special coupon or coupons from our community partners, so that you can get the things that you need for your animal at a discounted rate. So let's say every month they get a coupon from the local pet shop for toys or treats, they get a coupon for a discounted service at the local vet, they get a coupon for somebody local who is a dog walker, right. So now this premium newsletter list becomes a hub for you to generate money on the monthly subscribers, but also generate money from the people that want to put their goods and services in front of this audience. Target Audience amazing audience that you already have. So event might be new, might be wanting to get their services in front of new people, they can pay a sponsorship fee to or an extreme discount, however you want to do it, whatever makes sense for your organization to be a part of this newsletter. So you can generate sponsorship dollars. And those that are getting the newsletter are also getting good resources, good access to care. And so it becomes a win win win. So this premium newsletter thing can be fantastic.

If there's one thing that you try, I would love to see you dive deep into this because you know, I love email marketing. And this is just a great way for you to reach out to potential partners, and have conversation create collaboration in a way that wins for all people. It's not just them sponsoring an event. They're getting their eyeballs and an offer in front of the ideal target audience. You're an after school program. This could be access to school supplies, it could be tutors, it could be clothing, like kids clothing companies. If you're an environmental agency, it could be local businesses that's like that sell environmentally friendly goods or products or recyclable materials where they can go to do all of those things. Like there's so many ways to do this, and create those collaborations and get your sponsors more visibility. So I love the premium newsletter. Then if you are kind of thinking about providing more education, we have worked with some organizations on online courses, memberships and resources. So what this looks like is maybe you have a paid program where you go live on a regular basis to teach and coach people to have to do things.

So if we go back to the environmental agency, example, maybe you have a monthly live where you do coaching on Okay, here's how you can reduce Waste, maybe the next month is how to reduce plastic use. Maybe the next month is composting, like, whatever it might be creating a membership around that and providing content, that's a great thing that you can do. It's a lot like again, a little bit more work to pull something like that together. But if that's something you've been thinking about, definitely worth trying. And just because you're a nonprofit does not mean that you can't be in the space of creating content, courses, memberships, and all of those things. So think about that.

And definitely something I would love to talk to you about and flush out more with you if that's something that you are considering. The last one that I want to talk about is not online or service based, but is more if you wanted to do a physical box. So we're gonna go back to the pet example. Maybe you offer people to sign up for a pet subscription box, hey, once a quarter, we'll send you a box of goodies. So think like Bark Box, right? But this would be product from us, you would have the opportunity to include a flyer or donation information, right? Maybe you collaborate with some other local pet stores. And you could do like a dog tree or a toy or something. These don't have to be massive or big, they don't have to be crazy expensive. But it's just again, a way for you to get in front of people on a regular basis. It continue to remind them about who you are and what you do. And again, a way for you to get in front of your sponsors and off your sponsors different value than just being on your website or an event sponsorship right. This is an opportunity for you to kind of build and engage and grow with the people that are already excited if they've already participated with you, if they're already joined your organization, they are a warm lead. So let's give them more of a reason to interact and engage with you. So I love a collaboration.

I love partnering with local businesses. And if people are giving to their local nonprofits, they're probably wanting to give to local businesses too. So this is a great way for them to find out products with products that are local that they might not know about. And you can do this monthly, but you can do a quarterly too. That's totally fine. Do what makes sense, do what feels good. And I will put some resources in the show notes for this episode. And one of my favorite resources is samatha su BT a they're a subscription box trade association, and they have tons of resources to help you if this is something that you're interested in. Okay, so I hope that you got some good ideas for how you can think about a monthly giving or subscription program in a different way. And really provide value and keep people engaged and coming back for more because that's really what we're doing with a monthly giving program.

We know that our monthly donors typically give above and beyond what they're already doing, they typically give an annual gift if asked in the right way. And so these ideas are just great ways to continue to stay in front of engage and keep our cash flow coming in so that we can stay strong, build sustainability and keep growing our impact, which I know is the ultimate goal for all of you that are listening.

If you found this episode and the information helpful, please please please head on over to wherever you listen, especially if you're on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Tell us give us a five star review. Leave us a comment. I'd love to hear from you. I thank you for listening. New episodes are out every single Tuesday. And we have two more weeks. Wait three more weeks to go on our monthly giving program. So we're just getting started. If you want to watch video versions of this episode, you can check us out at https://thefirstclick.net/youtube Or in the show notes for this episode at https://thefirstclick.net/198 I appreciate you so much. Thank you for listening. See you in the next one.


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