The Membership Guide

Are you a newsroom seeking practical advice on your membership strategy? Check out the Membership Guide, which includes step-by-step processes for important decisions and more than three dozen case studies.

Would you prefer getting that information via a newsletter course? We designed one with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. You can sign up to start at any time.

the guide the course

If you are…

Looking for a clear explanation of what membership is and how it differs from donations and subscriptions, we’ve got that ›

Trying to catch up on our summit, here are the recordings ›

A media coach or consultant looking for inspiration, steal our coaching resources ›

Looking for an overview on how membership fits within the broader landscape of changes in journalism, we have that ›

Getting in touch

Our main email address,, will be lightly monitored after Sept. 1. You can still reach us, but we’ll be slower to reply.

Want to interview the former MPP team or have us present at your event? We can still do that sometimes. Email us ›

Want to republish a piece of our research? All of our work is available for republication and translation. Let us know what you’re republishing and where so that we can keep track.

Trying to find other newsrooms to talk about membership and membership-adjacent topics? Head to the Gather and News Product Alliance Slack workspaces.

Newsrooms in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia who are seeking advice on membership strategy can also contact the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF). MDIF hosts occasional membership trainings for newsrooms in those regions.

featured research

Articles overview
Building healthy membership communities: Lessons from newsrooms around the world

Many loyal readers crave a sense of community, but communities are complicated and take many different forms. In this report, four newsrooms share the diverse tactics, strategies and operational considerations that have helped them cultivate healthy member communities on their own terms.

Want to make your journalism more memberful? Find a range of proven practices, including revenue-generating routines

We went around the world to identify memberful routines that incorporate community members’ knowledge and produce value for news organizations. Here are practical tips from 19 news sites that show how to involve your supporters in your own site’s work.

What media can learn from other member-driven movements

Journalism’s traditional financial models are dying. Could churches, environmental movements, and open source communities hold clues to its survival?

“This is the journalism” & other insights from networked reporting

For those eager to shift the news paradigm, Join the Beat collaborations with community members show how networked reporting opens up a “really big group of sources,” as De Correspondent migration reporter Maite Vermeulen said. Read more about starting engagement well before publishing and promotion with audience-oriented discovery and research.

Why your community members want to aid your reporting & 25 jobs you can ask them to do

The people formerly known as the audience tell us they’re motivated to learn, contribute expertise, be heard, be granted transparency, express support for a cause, and meet people with shared values. You can learn from news organizations around the world about how they responsibly, enthusiastically allow community members past the gatekeeper and make coverage that saves and generates money.

Before communities can invest in news, newsrooms must invest in communities (1/2)

The focus of newsroom business model innovation has largely shifted from advertisers to audience members. Heather Bryant looks at what it will take for newsrooms to create pathways to membership for low and no income audiences: people who have been historically excluded from mutually beneficial relationships with newsrooms.

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Figuring out a sustainable path for public service journalism

How can readers contribute their knowledge and financial support to the journalism platform of the future?That is the central question Membership Puzzle Project seeks to address. We are a public research project that studied how news organizations can turn their strongest supporters into members, who then help sustain the journalism. We were co-founded in 2017 by NYU professor Jay Rosen and De Correspondent.

We do that by:

Studying the needs of news organizations and their members

Collecting what's already known about making membership work by seeking out the people who have deep experience with membership models (including members themselves).

Researching all the ways that community members can contribute, not just their money, but their knowledge and expertise.

Funding innovative membership models that are being tested at news sites as part of a global experiment to identify best practices for sustaining independent journalism in the 21st century.

Synthesizing the key membership lessons learned by journalism organizations around the world.

Our founding insight:

Membership is a social contract between a news organization and the community it serves. With membership, members give their time, money, and ideas to support a cause they believe in.

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