This guide is to help you choose the best membership management platform for your news organization. There are a lot out there, but not all MMPs are made the same.
Having a membership management platform is part of a larger technical stack that organizations need, which makes integrations with other platforms important. The Membership Puzzle Project has a great guide from Emma Carew Grovum about how to think about your overall tech stack for managing membership that can help you decide where one of these platforms fit into your overall needs.
We selected these six platforms in collaboration with the Membership Puzzle Project for how commonly they are used by news organizations, ease of use, price range, and integration with other platforms (like MailChimp). None of the platforms reviewed have a financial relationship with Poynter or NewsCatalyst.
This guide covers News Revenue Hub, Pico, PressPatron, Steady, Memberpress, and Memberful in depth. Memberkit 1.0, Remp2020, CiviCRM, Little Green Light, and Kindful are other alternatives that may require more technical knowledge or are not specifically made for use by a news organization, but may work for you.
The main platforms in this list include customer relationship management (or CRM), newsletter management and subscription tiers. Most do not have the option to have the transaction fees covered by the member except for News Revenue Hub. All but PressPatron have a paywall option included, as well.
News Revenue Hub
News Revenue Hub is a nonprofit that provides a membership platform in addition to consulting services. News organizations must apply to be part of the Hub and are required to use Salesforce, Stripe, and MailChimp. If you choose not to adopt those platforms, the Hub offers consulting services. Current clients include Billy Penn and Denverite.
PressPatron is built by a journalist for journalism. It provides a way for news organizations to receive donations without using paywalls. A survey conducted by the founder of PressPatron, Alex Clark, found people are more likely to contribute to a site without paywalls. PressPatron is available in the United States and Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and the United Kingdom. While PressPatron doesn’t include integrations, it does allow you to export a supporter, transaction and subscriber database, which can be used in conjunction with other platforms. The Times of San Diego and La Jolla Light are some of the organizations that use Press Patron.
Steady provides a global option for membership management. Steady takes a 10% portion of the revenue plus payment fees (1% plus $.20) and handles VAT tax based on the member’s location. It installs on your website with Steady code. Steady is used by Social Europe and Are We Europe.
Memberpress promotes itself as the “‘all-in-one’ membership plugin for WordPress.” The basic plan is $149 a year at the time of writing and includes unlimited members, MailChimp integration and coupons. Memberpress is only compatible with sites built with WordPress.
Memberful facilitates designating content for members only. It installs on websites as a WordPress plugin or by adding a snippet of code to the site. Memberful integrates with third-party applications to make member-only podcasts, forums, chat forums and online learning platforms. The Air Current and Stratechery are examples of sites who use Memberful.
The options below include Memberkit, which isn’t a membership platform as much as it is a support system for effectively managing a membership program. The other options are a combination of open-source and cloud-based membership software that might be options for your organization if you need to think really out of the box. CiviCRM, Little Green Light and Kindful are designed for the general idea of membership and are not specifically designed with editorial output as the primary driver of member engagement.
Memberkit 1.0 by Brian Boyer is another free option using Google Analytics. It’s not a platform, but it does use tools, code and spreadsheets to track reader habits. The tool uses the MailChimp API to track newsletter reach or to see how many newsletter subscribers donate within 30 days and Google Analytics to find where readers are from or what stories areas like the most. Read more about the project here.
Remp2020 (Reader Engagement and Monetization Platform) is a platform built by journalists in Slovakia as a free, open-source tool. Technical knowledge is required to implement this platform. The platform includes Pythia, a machine-learning algorithm to predict how likely someone will buy a subscription and Mailer, their newsletter management system. The GitHub Repo is here.
CiviCRM is another free, open-source tool available that is compatible with Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and Backdrop. CiviCRM includes tools that track member habits including event attendance and contributions. It also has the ability to track newsletter opens, click-through rates and A/B testing. Download CiviCRM here.
Little Green Light
Little Green Light is a cloud-based software that tracks membership habits and fundraising goals, and integrates with a lot of other software. Although Little Green Light is tailored toward nonprofit organizations, the tools and integrations are applicable for anyone looking to create a membership-based organization.
Kindful integrates with a lot of other platforms, has free support, and does not have additional payment fees. The tiered pricing system is based on the number of contacts and includes all of the features of Kindful no matter the tier level. It also integrates with a lot of different platforms including Stripe, Zapier, MailChimp and Fundraise Up.
This story was published in a collaboration between Poynter and News Catalyst. Amanda Treible was an editorial fellow at News Catalyst.