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What makes membership revenue different?

In the grand scheme of consumer revenue, it's tempting to think of membership and subscription as interchangeable models. This detailed report from The Membership Puzzle Project outlines the ways membership is "fundamentally different" from subscription with a wide range of case studies. Any news organization considering membership should understand these basics.

News organizations can, and should, adapt strategies from other industries where membership thrives, and this piece is the perfect primer. The case studies Emily Goligoski rounded up speak to the motivation that drives membership, the role of members in a community, and the operational questions for organizations who serve members.

Membership isn’t just “subscription by another name” (though it’s often referenced that way), or about giving consumers access to a product. It’s participation in a larger cause that reflects what they want to see in civil society. In membership, there’s a different social contract or value proposition between the site and its members. At the basic level of: What do you give? What do you get?  Subscribers pay their money and get access to a product. But members join the cause and participate because they believe in it.