Helping Nonprofits Generate Profitable Growth- Interview with Dave Raley, Grant Writing Simplified with Teresa Huff, Episode 119

How Can the Subscription Economy Benefit a Nonprofit’s Revenue? [Episode 119]

“One of the most important things leaders can do first with a trend is to notice it, just to know that it’s there.”

Several months ago I was at a large nonprofit conference in Nashville. While wandering up and down the booths, one caught my eye. They were giving away macaroons…delicious, colorful, many-flavored, handmade macaroons. *Sigh.*

The macaroons worked their magic and I quickly became friends with the two coworkers running the booth. Turns out one of them, Dave Raley, was at another conference just the month before in Milwaukee – and so was I! We were both presenters at that conference, but somehow our paths hadn’t crossed there. 

At any rate I’m glad we finally met because, aside from the delightful macaroons, Dave and I have kept in touch and he’s a wonderful person. That’s why I wanted you to meet him too.

Today you get to meet Dave Raley, a consultant who helps organizations take care of their economic engine through innovation, growth, and scaling. Dave points out we should pay attention to important trends in the amount of giving, type of giving, and who does the giving.


To best make the type of impact you are working towards it is important to review your current situation. First, look inward and review the things you do to produce revenue. Secondly, look outward and pay attention to trends.

Trends are like waves. Just like when you’re trying to catch a wave surfing, you can miss waves by paddling too early or too late. You need to match the speed and be on top of it to be able to ride the wave.

An example of a trend that we’re currently in the middle of is the Subscription Economy.

How to Best Use the Subscription Economy

We’re currently living in a Subscription Economy. Not long ago, a person’s typical monthly payments included the necessities of life like mortgages, car payments, and water bills. Now we subscribe to much more every day. Things like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, softwares, gyms, food – all these point to the subscription economy we live in.

This has transformed the way donors and customers think about recurring transactions. It has normalized the concept of monthly giving and encouraged it through the ease of it all. Consumers and donors see monthly payments as a normal part of life and as a good and doable thing. This helps create predictability for organizations, including nonprofits, since they can have an idea of their monthly incoming revenue.

Say a nonprofit wants to ramp up subscription giving:

  1. Take stock of what you’ve got. Look at your recurring donors and the long term value. You need to know where you are so you know where you can go.
  2. Prioritize your monthly giving program. Make it easy to see and use on your website or another type of functional giving platform.

Tips for the Subscription Economy:

  • Donors like convenience. Automated giving can help your revenue.
  • Don’t limit your goal and therefore limit your plan. Aim high.
  • Look at your giving program and how to better use your resources.

Challenge Question:

How can you rethink and maximize the subscription economy we are living in?

Meet Dave Raley:

Consultant, speaker, and writer Dave Raley is the founder of Imago Consulting, a firm that helps faith-informed organizations generate profitable growth by developing sustainable innovation. He’s also the co-founder and host of the Purpose & Profit Podcast, a show about the surprising ideas at the intersection of nonprofit causes and for-profit brands.

Connect with Dave Raley:


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2 thoughts on “How Can the Subscription Economy Benefit a Nonprofit’s Revenue? [Episode 119]”

  1. We were at that conference in Nashville and two booths away those delicious, colorful, many-flavored, handmade macaroons caught our eyes as well. Always great hearing Dave talk about innovation in the nonprofit environment. I also enjoy Dave’s “Wave Report”.

    1. Hi Dennis – We probably crossed paths there too, although forgive me if it wasn’t quite as memorable…I was probably busy savoring my macaroons! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by the episode!

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