Who pays? (client / user edition)

It means all kinds of things if the client or user of a non-profit organisation’s services pays.

  • The organisation will be focused on the client, and their needs – “She who pays the piper calls the tune.”
  • The non-profit will be able to charge only in proportion to the usefulness of the service they provide (and in proportion to the client’s ability to pay).
  • If you’re wondering if the beneficiaries of non-profit programs are able to pay, the answer is almost always yes – if they want what’s on offer badly enough.
  • The puzzle of getting people to pay (in time, effort, and particular money) focuses the attention of the non-profit on what is often the hardest part of providing useful services: making them good enough quality, valuable and attractive enough in the eyes of the target user that they enthusiastically seek out what’s on offer (this is most often a marketing problem more than a technical one).
  • Asking users to pay focuses our attention on the smallest, most affordable piece of the puzzle that we can provide – a kind of MVP – that then allows us to build on what’s working and expand from there, rather than starting with large-scale “castles in the sky” that don’t survive first contact with customers.
  • Users paying often drives up quality – we often think people should be happy to accept any help that’s offered if it’s free, but we suddenly feel responsible for the quality of product or service we provide to paying customers.
  • The client-as-customer is empowered, able to ask questions, make requests, complain.
  • Growth pays for itself – if clients pay the cost of the services they receive, adding users adds revenue, allowing more growth.
  • Some people say we value what we pay for – this is sometimes true.
  • Sometimes you need a certain amount of resources to build something that people will buy – an initial investment that’s hard to get if you don’t have donor money. If it’s your charity, it’s likely that you’ll end up bankrolling initial development with at least your own time, and probably your own money.

What have I missed?

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