If you haven't turned on paid subscriptions for your Substack, Pledges are a tool for your audience to show you they believe your work is valuable. This feature allows your subscribers to pledge to become a paid subscriber if and when you turn on paid subscriptions.
Note: This feature is only available if you have not set up payments on your publication.
Here's how it works:
Pledges will be on for all free publications with suggested pricing tiers. To make any changes, head to your publication's Settings page and scroll to the Payments section.
- To turn off or turn on Pledges, click on the toggle next to "Allow readers to pledge subscriptions".
You can change the suggested pricing for monthly, yearly, and founding subscriptions and enter your own minimum. The pledge amount must be higher than the standard Substack minimum of $5/month and $50/year.
What do readers see?
When a reader first subscribers to your publication, they'll see an opportunity to pledge a yearly, monthly, or founding plan. If they'd like to continue without pledging, they can select "No pledge".
Subscribers must enter their payment information to complete their pledge, but there will be no immediate charge. If you turn on paid subscriptions, their pledges will turn into recurring paid subscriptions. If you never turn on paid, nothing will happen.
The subscriber can also write a message about why they'd like to support your publication.
Tip: If a subscribers is logged into their Substack account and have a paid subscription to at least one other publication, their card details will be automatically pre-filled.
Pledges work on auto-pilot. Free subscribers who are logged into their Substack account will see prompts to “Pledge your support” instead of the "Subscribed" buttons on your publication and in your posts.
How do I know when I get a Pledge?
When a subscriber pledges to pay for a subscription, you'll be notified by email.
You'll see the options to turn on payments or manage the Pledges feature (found on your publication's Settings page).
To turn off email notifications for pledges head to the Notifications section on your Settings page and toggle off next to "Payment pledge email notifications".
To see a full list of your Pledges, head to your Stats page and click on Pledges. Here, you'll see the number of pledges, potential annualized revenue from pledges, and also any notes a subscriber has sent.
What happens when I enable payments on my Substack publication?
When you set up payments and connect to Stripe, your pledges will automatically begin converting to paid subscriptions. Nothing is needed to be done on your end besides enabling payments. It can take up to one hour for the new paid subscriptions to appear on your Subscribers dashboard.
Readers who've pledged will get an email notifying them that their pledge converted to a paid subscription. These notifications are automatic.
What happens if I enable payments but my subscription plans are higher than the pledge amounts?
If you're enabling payments and setting a subscription plan price higher than the pledge plan amounts, we'll display the number of mismatched pledges and the pledge amount. You'll have the option to accept pledges at any pledge tiers you've previously set up meaning that all pledges will automatically convert to paid subscriptions at the price point pledged.
If the "Accept pledges at any price" is toggled off, we'll notify the reader via email about the price change. The reader will have the option to become a paid subscriber at the higher rate by clicking on "Subscribe" in the notification email and then they'll immediately become a paid subscriber.
For example, if you set the pledge pricing tiers to be $8.00/month but you set your subscription monthly price to $10.00/month during the payment setup, the reader's pledge won't automatically turn into a $10.00/month subscription.