Journalism is facing both a trust crisis and a sustainability crisis. Membership answers to both.
It is a social contract between a news organization and its members in which members give their time, money, energy, expertise, and connections to support a cause that they believe in. In exchange, the news organization offers transparency and opportunities to meaningfully contribute to both the sustainability and impact of the organization.
Elsewhere it continues:
Membership is not subscription by another name, nor a brand campaign that can be toggled on and off.
Memberful routines are workflows that connect audience members to journalism and the people producing it. Routines are the basis for a strong membership strategy. Notice that audience members are specified here, which is likely a wider group than your members.