As outlined in the article "About Stitch Memberships", Stitch has two membership types: Public memberships, which are free; and Full memberships, which require a membership fee.
Stitch's Public membership provides an option for members to join Stitch and be part of the community for free.
The Public membership is for people who would like to be part of Stitch but aren't ready to commit to a Full membership yet, or are happy participating in only the Public areas on Stitch.
It doesn't provide access to everything in the community; Public members are generally only able to join in Public (or "Open") activities, groups and discussions, but it does provide a significant and meaningful benefit to members who don't want to support the community financially by becoming a Full Stitch member.
A Full member of Stitch, on the other hand, provides complete access to the Stitch Community. You can learn about what's included in each membership type here.
Of course, we hope that most Public members will choose to support the community by becoming a Full member once they understand what Stitch is all about, but if they never decide to do so, that's completely fine.
Why does Stitch offer a free membership?
In case you don’t already know, Stitch is a social enterprise. Social enterprises are businesses whose primary goal is to address an important social issue and make a positive impact on the world.
Research has confirmed time and again that positive social connections help us lead healthier & happier lives, but far too many people lose social connections as they age. Stitch is designed to help local communities connect, and enable as many people as possible to make meaningful friendships that enrich their lives.
The Stitch Community itself is now a not-for-profit charity, and you can learn more about its purpose here.
Like many communities, Stitch relies on membership fees in order to operate, which is why we ask members who want to support us to become Full members, and even donate to help us make an impact.
Unfortunately not everyone is able or ready to support the community with even a small annual membership fee. Some people face truly significant financial constraints, while others are in the process of major life transitions and aren’t quite ready to join a community like Stitch.
That's why we've designed a membership model that lets us make a meaningful difference to those members, while giving a lot more to those members who decide to support the community by becoming Full members.
Why is there a fee to become a Full member of Stitch?
Like all businesses, social enterprises and charities need ways to generate enough money to fund their operations so they can make a social impact. Sometimes they do that through donations or sponsorship, but most clubs and community organizations do so through membership fees.
If you know anything about Stitch, you'll know it is a membership-based community.
That means the only way we are able to continue to operate, support, and grow the Stitch community is through membership fees.
We chose a membership-fee community model as we believe it’s the only one which allows a community to operate solely in its members’ interests.
Other ways of generating revenue, such as through advertising, puts a company in the position where it is ultimately beholden to those advertisers, rather than the people they really should care about. We’ve all seen how that ultimately plays out with every single “free” social network over the past few years.
(We actually experimented with advertising at one point in the early days of Stitch, and discovered very quickly how demanding advertisers were when it came to asking for things that were clearly not in the interests of our members.)
That means Stitch relies on its members to become Full members if they wish to participate fully in the community. You can learn about the benefits of being a Full member here.
We have intentionally chosen a very low annual membership fee for our Community membership, to make it as affordable to as many people as possible.
All our modest membership fees are reinvested back into the community, with every dollar going towards not just operating, supporting, and improving the Stitch site and app, but also promoting Stitch in new and existing areas to grow and enrich our community with more members. And with more members comes more opportunities for companionship, which benefits everyone in the community.
Everyone who chooses a Full membership is doing their bit to support the community!