Subscription Stories – Subscription Business for Nonprofits

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Charity: water’s MZ Goodman joins Robbie Kellman Baxter to share how she is applying subscription model best practices to a nonprofit. They discuss how MZ leverages content marketing and digital community strategies developed in her work at The New York Times to build a donation-based subscription model, how they’ve leveraged a single 20-minute video to raise millions, and how to think about a Forever Promise in the context of engaging donors.

Welcome to the show. It’s your host, Robbie Kellman Baxter sharing subscription stories with you. Today’s guest is MZ Goodman. MZ is a true innovator, bringing the best practices of subscription, engagement, and brand from her work at The New York Times, Ralph Lauren, Glossier, and goop, to charity: water, a nonprofit that provides clean water to people in developing nations. The organization has been phenomenally successful by taking a different approach to fundraising. The 14 year old organization has raised over 450 million dollars. Join us as MZ shares the secrets of charity: water’s success and how to bring these principles to any organization. Welcome to the show, MZ. 

‘Hi, Robbie, thanks so much for having me.’

‘Now your title at Charity: water, can you tell me what your title is?’

‘Sure. So I’m SVP of Subscription.’

‘That is not a title that I’m used to hearing at nonprofit.’

‘I know.’

‘How did that happen? And what is a subscription to a nonprofit?’

‘I think it was, leadership was incredibly smart when they decided to pivot the business at the nonprofit in this direction, in that our COO, Lauren Letta, who’s incredibly visionary, she was already evaluating whether it made sense to create a subscriptions team focused on a North Star metric of predictive revenue so as to enable significant growth across the organization. And our model is very complicated. But it took a lot of moving parts. So it was a very intentional move on the part of leadership to create a cross-functional team focused on a North Star goal of building membership and growing recurring revenue.

 

Key points covered in this podcast include:

  • Why a mission is the most important factor for attracting subscribers
  • The importance of building a brand based on quality over charisma
  • Ways for nonprofits to allow members to remain active without opening their checkbooks
  • MZ’s advice for product leaders who want to transition to the nonprofit world
  • The differences between building a community at a news company, a make-up company, and a nonprofit

 

Listen to the full conversation, Subscription Stories, Charity:Water, on RobbieKellmanBaxter.com.