The year ahead in Future Community
 Content needs purpose
A few things need to go: paying for leads and email addresses of people that could care less about your work, more fundraising emails (because what’s the harm in sending one more?), 4X (and 5X and 6X and 10X…yes, they’re out there) matching gifts, and optimizing for page views without understanding the audience or conversion goals.
All of this is working against the value of your content program.
Instead, start with a clear goal for every piece of content you put out there. Awareness, visits and more subscribers aren’t goals.
Ask hard questions about the kinds of subscribers, followers and members you need. What will subscribers do? How much will they give? What actions will they take? What is your plan for getting an action or payment? How do you find out what moves you and your subscribers/members/supporters to that goal?
Treat your content with care because it is out there creating and sustaining relationships with real people (and bots and LLMs).
Measure and learn. Test and adjust if content isn’t working. Talk with people. Understand who they are, why they subscribed and gave, what they need from you, their hopes. Build for that.
 Register for 2024
No no, you don’t need to register to get into 2024. You’re already here.
But I think people working in nonprofit content and online media more broadly will (or should) be talking more about registration this year.
As mentioned above, your time and money spent creating content demands that it have purpose. And that purpose needs to be measurable.
Too many nonprofit digital strategies hammer away at list growth and fundraising at all costs. We’re scraping the jar looking for an audience and then throwing them right into the “Donate Today” blender.
With that we lose opportunities to understand why people come to our websites and email lists. We can measure page views but not the value of those views to users (or even ourselves).
Site registration has direct and indirect benefits.
- It helps you think about what content people value enough to “register” to receive. And then create that.
- A registered user has moved up the engagement ladder (or down the funnel). It’s an act they’re going to take because they’re getting value – not just giving you something like a donation. And a user who indicates that they value you is worth ten (20? 100?) who don’t.
- Registered users are telling you a lot more about their user experience and the value of their site. There are privacy issues to cover here (be transparent with users about what you’re tracking, for starters). But the gist of it is that you’re already tracking people with google analytics, cookies and CRMs/apps like Hubspot. So why not have clear insight into what content is working for your visitors and (more importantly) your registered supporters.
Site registration – or a “registration wall” – has largely been confined to publishers. The idea is that asking people to register is a simpler ask than a paywall. Many news sites and other online publishers don’t have a history of requiring paid subscriptions. Or they may want to keep all or most content available to everyone. This is common among nonprofit news sites or alt-weekly sites.
Registration deployment is flexible:
- They can be used to meter content: you can view five articles before needing to register.
- Or certain content can be available only to registered users.
- Or all content is free to everyone but there are persistent registration requests.
- You can also deploy registration in the user flow which is common for events and e-commerce sites. Everyone is familiar with registering with a site like Eventbrite or when buying a product. Registration simplifies the process – you can see order details, past orders, shipping progress and save payment info.
Overall, if you’re interested in creating content that’s valuable to users and brings value to your organization then registration offers a way to present and measure that value, it establishes a landscape for community and relationship building, and it doesn’t need to present big cost or technical hurdles (or restrictions on users).
MUCH more to dig into here. Would love to get your feedback or talk with folks who are using registration in their nonprofit or media projects.
 Substack still ? hearts ? Nazis
It took a week or so but eventually Substack responded with what amounts to this:
Nazi money is money.
Substack appears to be using the old “well, we’re just an infrastructure company” line.
I get it. Nobody wants to spend their days moderating content. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.
But the world needs people who know right from wrong and aren’t content to make money on what’s clearly wrong.
Substack can do better than this. Or maybe they can’t.
There are other options and Future Community will probably be moving along. If you want to make that migration more costly for me feel free to share this newsletter with potential fans.
Perhaps the departure of Substackers with larger and paid audiences will motivate Substack? Like Molly White (who did leave) or Casey Newton (who’s talking about it). Substack’s response is essentially daring people to go.
 Content is people
There are real people at the other end of this email newsletter. (Hello!) And, except for those bots, everything you put out there is being heard, read and viewed by a real person with ideas, hopes, needs, emotions and not a lot of spare time.
It’s on us as email writers, communicators, storytellers, producers, Instagram celebrities or Facebook posters to understand the journey on which we want to take people.
Be clear with people about what you need and what you expect them to get from and do with your content.
Your content team is also made up of people. Too often these teams are scattered across departments with little support, coordination, training or shared goals.
It really is possible to get people in there who are passionate about content – whatever the format, fascinated by improving with data and, maybe most of all, really care about the audience and what they do, say, read and view.
Of course, that means changing up how we build, lead and run content programs and teams which, for oddballs like me, is the fun part.
I wrote about content product teams a few months back.
 Why the job list?
Perhaps you’re here because of the jobs listed below ?? or the full list here. That’s cool.
It takes a fair bit of uncompensated time to maintain a current job list. Why bother?
I’ve spent 30 years in and around nonprofit fundraising, campaigning and technology. A lot of good folks have left this space (or figured it wasn’t worth their time) because of poor fitting jobs, bad management, lack of skill-building and poor career growth opportunities.
Tapping a big network to help curate good roles seems like the least I can offer. And you meet good folks along the way.
But I have questions for you (if you’ve made it this far):
Do you have feedback? Is the Future Community jobs list useful to you? What would make it more useful? Would it be worth it to run it on its own email list and/or put the list online in a more “job list” type format? Other ideas?