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Fundraising with Museum Membership Schemes: Harnessing the Power of Digital Benefits

Raising funds through museum membership programs is a brilliant way to get your audiences genuinely excited about what your museum is all about. Offering sneak peeks behind the curtain and some exclusive goodies can help you foster a community of die-hard supporters. Take Tate, they’ve reported that memberships are their second most important source of income.

Traditionally museum memberships hinged heavily on benefits that require in-person visits, but in recent years museum membership programs have had a digital makeover. And to get the most from fundraising with museum membership schemes, it’s crucial to include digital perks.

This not only helps you keep that all-important income flowing in, but it also casts a wider net to attract members who aren’t local. So, read on as we dive into the world of digital fundraising with museum membership programs!

Creating a Members-Only Website for Fundraising with Museum Membership Schemes

Have you ever gone to read an article online and gotten that “subscribe or login message” barring you from reading unless you hand over some contact information? This is indicative of gated content which is being used more and more when it comes to collecting information on website visitors and offering exclusive content. Having a members-only part of your website is a way to offer a hub for exclusive content that members can access anytime. Especially if your museum is producing interesting articles and media content, giving non-members a bit of a tease can be a great incentive for joining.

Creating exclusive digital content can be a difficult task as links can be shared with the click of a button – offering a gated portion of your website can help to keep your content safe and for members eyes only. Another upside to creating this special space for members is that it’s easier to get valuable metrics on how often members are visiting your site, how long they are staying and which resources they are exploring. As far as digital fundraising goes, these exclusive online benefits can be very attractive to existing and potential members bringing in valuable income and retaining membership.

Enhancing Fundraising with Museum Membership Schemes through Exclusive Media Content

MoMA in New York have been pioneers when it comes to offering digital content to members having offered online events and exclusive content since 2011. What began as a way for members to renew their membership online and update their details, evolved into a dedicated hub to access virtual tours and specially recorded content such as lectures and podcasts that only members could access.

Fast forward to 2023, and they are continuing to offer their members online content and events including roundtable sessions for members, exclusive virtual screenings and “evening in” events that are focused on exploring the collections alongside physically crafting artwork and objects guided by MoMA staff. All of these events are meant to make members feel included in something special, a next-level tier of patronage that’s valued by the museum and necessary for carrying out their mission and vision.

Here are some ideas of members-only media content to digitally engage your support base:

  • Virtual tours of museum grounds or gallery spaces,
  • Dedicated podcast series featuring voices from the museum as well as guest speakers,
  • Exclusive photo/video previews of upcoming exhibitions,
  • Members-only networking sessions to allow supporters to meet one another and engage on topics relating to your museum and collection,
  • Virtual screenings of film content related to your collection and/or exhibitions.


Members-only Newsletter: A Tool for Fundraising with Museum Membership Schemes

A great way to keep members in the loop and up to date on all new virtual events and digital content is to produce a regular members-only newsletter. Whether it be fortnightly or monthly, make full use of the opportunity to remind members of the benefits that their museum membership affords them like shop discounts, discounted tickets and exclusive content. Research conducted by digital product studio Freestyle found that a one third of their survey respondents placed “communication and information” in their top reasons for joining a membership organisation. Making members feel valued and heard through frequent communication is crucial for retention, and also offers you ample opportunity to let them know about upcoming appeal campaigns and crowdfunding initiatives.

If your museum is participating in any online campaigns such as Giving Tuesday and/or International Museums Day, a member’s newsletter is a great place to highlight your goals, aspirations and how those who are most loyal to your museum can continue to support. For more information on how to plug into existing campaigns to help with digital fundraising, read our MuseumNext article on the topic!

Embrace the Digital Era of Fundraising with Museum Membership Schemes

In recent years, digital fundraising and the need to offer online perks have become increasingly important. Membership income is a significant source of revenue for many museums, and retaining members is crucial in today’s uncertain climate. Launching a membership scheme could be a game-changing move for your museum, helping to meet digital fundraising goals and explore new revenue streams.

Many museums have discovered the silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic: the ability to create engaging digital content. Harness this energy and funnel it into a valuable source of income – Museum Membership Schemes!

This practical guide has outlined how to make the most of Fundraising with Museum Membership Schemes. It’s time to tap into this strategy and unlock new opportunities for your institution!

MuseumNext offer online learning for museum professionals striving for engaging, relevant and flexible professional growth content. Learn more about our virtual museum conferences here.

About the author – Devon Turner

Devon Turner is an Arts & Culture Writer. She has worked extensively in arts marketing for both the visual arts and performing arts in the US and UK. Now living in London, Devon works in the arts and culture sector and enjoys traveling to visit museums.

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