Membership Benefits 101

As our economy moves towards a more subscription-based model, member benefits are becoming the norm. As an example, Amazon has done an incredible job layering on perks for being an Amazon Prime member, extending all the way to shopping at Whole Foods (which they acquired this past year). The notion of member benefits has been around for a long time. For decades American Express has based the entire value chain of card membership on benefits offered at a variety of levels: basic, gold, and platinum.

The arts can take advantage of this trend as well (and do more), without impacting their bottom line. In this insightful article from Baker Richards in the UK, some of the fundamentals of thinking about membership plans are outlined. If you have not been to the theatre in the UK, the article points to some interesting cultural differences (in the UK patrons pay for programs, and covet ice cream at intermission). Beyond that, it presents some thoughtful concepts around offering benefits in the arts in the same way we see them offered in other commercial industries utilizing reserved seating. For instance, when you select seats on many airlines today, some unsold seats are held back for frequent flyers. Do you hold back the best seats for your donors or members?

Arts organizations should always be working to build closer relationships with their best patrons, donors, and members. As this article points out, some of these benefits can be highly valued, and cost very little to deliver.

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