Blog » Update on nzflatmates
Good news! Since revealing last month that nzflatmates received just six voluntary donations from members in a little over five months, I can now report that we've received an additional 52 donations in the short time since writing that post. While we're still a way off where we need to be, it's certainly trending in the right direction.
Here's how we did it.
The first change was to stop using the word donation and swap it out for contribution. When members deactivate their profile, instead of asking for a donation we ask for a contribution at a price they think is fair. This saw an immediate increase.
But we decided to take things a step further. We designed a page that asks for a contribution immediately after members create their profile, instead of waiting until the point where the profile is deactivated. This allows us to display a badge (in our case, a gold star) on the profile of people who make a contribution.
This is our first crack at the page, but the wording is deliberate and well considered. We use the word voluntary to emphasize people have a choice. We make it clear the money will be put toward the maintenance and development of the website, and that other sites charge up to $15 just to place a listing. We talk about it sending the "right message to potential flatmates" (honesty, sense of fairness, pay their way etc) and show an example of the badge they'll receive. We suggest three different amounts to frame people's expectations, and use icons of coffee, cake and sandwiches to hopefully illustrate we're not really asking for much.
Interestingly, there is an even spread of $5, $9 and $19 contributions even though there is no advantage to the contributors for choosing the higher denominations.
It will be fun to test different variations of this page but I'm pretty happy that such a simple change has seen a 50x increase in contributions (albeit from a very low starting point).
As I pointed out in last month's post, my goal with nzflatmates has never been to make a lot of money, but this new direction feels good because the site covers its expenses, people only pay what they think is fair, and the site remains as useful as possible because we haven't restricted ourselves solely to those who can afford to pay.