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Beyond the Paywall: What we learned about membership in 2022

Since we’re nearing the end of December, I wanted to reflect on the past year at the Hub and our journey since launch. We’ve been in operation since 2016, helping newsrooms across North America to grow their audiences and revenue. Each year, we learn important lessons from our clients that we, in turn, translate into best practices and learnings for the entire Hub cohort.

Those lessons are paying off! Our research has found that when an organization joins the Hub, it increases its annual revenue by an average 69% in the first year. So far in 2022, our client newsrooms are thriving: using our data-driven consulting and technology tools they’ve seen a 13% increase in membership revenue from October 2021 through October of this year – and we expect more dramatic numbers following this year-end campaign season.

In 2022, we wanted to make a more intentional effort to publicly share the fruits of our work in newsrooms around the country, so here’s a recap of what we published.

We showed how Honolulu Civil Beat managed to shift its culture and approach to a nonprofit model, resulting in a best-in-class membership program. We also demonstrated how for-profits like Noozhawk and Cap Times can build sustainable revenue from volunteer donors, too.

We shared how organizations like Grist and Bridge Michigan were able to turbocharge their reader revenue programs by setting and adjusting their goals.

We zoomed in on specific campaign approaches, like Connecticut Mirror’s legislature-focused fundraiser and Report for America‘s strategy for helping local newsrooms raise money.

We detailed how This is Tucson built a newsletter course that provides a stream of new subscribers and members.

We developed a playbook to overhauling websites based on the experiences of Grist and San Antonio Report, including tips to optimize sites for bringing in new subscribers and members.

We brought you behind the scenes of Newsmatch, and explained the details of our partnership with INN.

And finally, we shared our takeaways from the inaugural Independent News Sustainability Summit, which we co-hosted with LION and RevLab at the Texas Tribune in Austin this fall.

This was a big year for the Hub: in 2022, we were thrilled to welcome a variety of new local and national newsroom clients, including El Paso Matters, Indian Country Today, Epicenter NYC, Signal Cleveland, Central Current, Capital B, and Prison Journalism Project. Our project managers have been hard at work helping them build sustainable membership programs.

We were also fortunate to secure two partnerships: one to create and run a sustainability lab for the Solution Journalism Network‘s local collaboratives, and another to launch a pilot program giving client newsrooms access to the Diversity Pledge Institute‘s recruiting services.

We’re excited for next year, and we thank you so much for being a part of our community as we continue to grow and help make news more sustainable.

Rachel Glickhouse
Director of Learning and Labs


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