This initiative is related to the generation of revenue from users but, unlike subscriptions, it does not consist of payment in exchange for access to information. Instead, readers contribute financially to become partners or members and thus ensure the sustainability of the media and of journalism with which they identify. The advantages of this model lie in reducing dependence on advertising revenue, engaging the community directly, and allowing even non-paying users to access content, thus generating positive social externalities
Steady is the most successful example for a membership model in Germany. Steady was founded as a technology start-up in the spin-off of the cooperative Krautreporter. The founding of the platform was made possible because of Google funding. In the meantime, more than 1,500 so-called publishers are active on Steady. Furthermore, Steady is not only used in Germany, but now also in other European countries.
eldiario.es is a digital native media launched in 2012. Eldiario.es has stood out for its business strategy and its membership model, which reached a peak during the COVID crisis when it went from 36,000 to 56,000 members in a matter of weeks. Their membership system has inspired other media such as The Guardian.
The Economist, launched in 1843, was for a long time a role model of a print-only publication. In recent years, it has also offered online access to its information, generating a huge number of digital subscribers. In order to achieve this success, the Economist has implemented different marketing and engagement strategies: for of all, they aggressively advertised the Economist in local stands, but started also to create a community around its magazine through the idea of a Membership. It makes subscriptions more attractive and valuable by offering not only access to the news but also to special content and services that are available only to their subscribers