What are Substack Pledges?

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:

Managing Pledges

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".

Screenshot_2022-12-13_at_2.39.18_PM.png

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.

Screenshot_2022-12-12_at_11.19.53_AM.png

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".

Screenshot_2022-12-12_at_3.52.23_PM.png

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. Existing free subscribers will see prompts to “Pledge your support” from the subscribe buttons on your publication and in your posts. 

Screenshot_2023-01-27_at_5.58.41_PM.png

How do I know when I get a Pledge?

When a subscriber pledges to pay for a subscription, you'll be notified by email.

Screenshot_2022-12-13_at_2.55.06_PM.png

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".

Screenshot_2022-12-13_at_2.59.38_PM.png

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.

Screenshot_2023-01-20_at_5.11.00_PM.png

Screenshot_2023-01-20_at_5.11.32_PM.png

What happens if I turn on payments and my subscriptions plans are higher than the pledge amounts?

If you turn on payments on your Substack and the subscription plans are higher than the amount a reader pledged, then we'll notify the reader via email about the price change.

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.

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. 

Was this article helpful?
78 out of 85 found this helpful

Articles in this section

See more
Need more help?
Submit a request to our Support team and we'll be glad to help!