Shifting to a user-pays model had another significant impact on our work – we became more accountable to the people we serve, and the quality of our work went up as a result.
Accountability and Quality
Under our old operational model we received charitable donations and provided our materials and training to partner schools for free. We were accountable to our donors for how we spent their funds. We did our best for our users, but, well, they were getting our service for free. It was infinitely better than nothing, even if there was the odd typo, or the odd part of the curriculum that didn’t really make sense.
When we began asking users to pay (mainly in an effort to allow us to serve more people), an improvement in quality was an unexpected benefit:
“We’ve got to fix those typos – people are paying for this.”
“This curriculum needs to fit together way more tightly, or no-one will buy it.”
Asking your users to pay creates more direct accountability and a tighter feedback loop to your users. The shift from giving to beneficiaries to selling to customers / clients forces you to focus more intently on creating products and services that meet their needs rather than yours or your donors’, and on making something that they think is worth the cost in terms of time, money and attention.