It’s a question we thought quite seriously about when we first started Hallow and continue to think about seriously. Should Hallow be a non-profit or a for-profit? Should it be free for everyone, or should there be a premium option?
“Hallow is one of the best possible uses of my time and I love it. Hallow has really buoyed me throughout some difficult months. So it’s worth it no matter the cost.”
We needed Hallow to be of the highest quality
We spoke with several of our spiritual directors, prayed about it and debated it as a team for months. The first thing we all agreed on was that our mission – to help people to pray – had to always come first. It had to guide every decision. Money must always be only a tool to achieve it, never a goal in itself. If we never made any money but were able to help people grow in their faith, we’d have succeeded.
We realized that in order to do this, and especially to reach out to those who might have fallen away, we needed to build something high-quality. Unfortunately, the faith world, both in media and technology, does not often stack up against the quality of the secular world. As we started looking around, it broke our hearts. Our faith deserves the best.
We used to do a great job of this. The Church was the source of the most beautiful buildings, the most incredible art, but for some reason, we’ve fallen short in the digital world. The content that we’re sharing is the most incredible content in the world: the Word of God. It deserves the highest quality design and technology to go with it. What we saw is that many people, especially young people, especially people who had fallen away from their faith, often wouldn’t even give an app a try if it wasn’t built to their standard of design and functionality. They just wouldn’t download it, regardless of the beauty of the content within it.
We knew that we needed to create something high quality. Something that stacked up with the best in the world, both in terms of design, technology, and content. We needed to build a team of the best technical talent in the world. We needed to bring on incredible designers. And we needed to partner with the best content creators in the world to build something worthy of the beauty of the spirituality that we were sharing.
“I resisted several times, but finally I gave it a whirl and I haven’t stopped spinning! The content is enriching and gratifying and meticulously arranged by topics and speakers! This app is worth every penny my friends – again thank you!”
We needed Hallow to be a place of peace
We also knew that we really wanted Hallow to be a place of peace and respite away from the business of life. We didn’t want anyone to have to think about money while they prayed. We didn’t want to bombard anyone with ads or requests for donations. Hallow had to be transparent about pricing and then leave users in peace to pray on their own.
We especially did not want anyone to worry about how Hallow was funding itself. We wanted total transparency. What we often heard from people we talked to was ‘if they’re not asking you to pay, then you’re the thing being sold.’ We never wanted anyone to worry about the privacy of their data with Hallow. We would never sell any user data. Our faith is one of the most personal aspects of our lives. Your privacy should always be the highest priority.
“I started off with the free trial of this app. However, it was not long at all before I decided it would be worth every penny to subscribe to this since this app really strengthens my spiritual practices…Lampert on spiritual warfare. I highly recommend giving this a trial but it is certainly well worth the money spent for this app”
How we decided on our funding model
So, after much prayer and discernment, we decided on the premium model. We would price it at a little bit under $6 / mo for the annual plan (~20% discount to the standard secular meditation apps, but definitely still premium). And we would give away a free trial to test out the content without getting charged.
There were two big benefits we saw from this that we honestly did not expect. The first was that people actually prayed much more. It started to make sense the more that we spoke with people using the app. We all try so many free things, we download a bunch of different free apps, but most we don’t end up using. Taking the step to put some skin in the game made people actually commit to growing deeper in their faith life. In the end, people were up to 2.4x more likely to build a daily habit of prayer if they made some initial investment, even if it was just starting a free trial.
The second thing was that it made us a lot more committed to building something great. It held us as a team to the standard of building a truly premium product. The fact that we’re asking people to pay for it pushes us to stay up the extra hour till 3am to make sure it’s perfect.
The issue is that most of us are often used to receiving apps for free because large companies can afford to build them and give them away for free. But what we are building at Hallow is a lot more like a book or audiobook than a gaming app. We have a small team of folks constantly working to write and create new content. And books, even those sold by non-profits and Bibles, almost always cost money so they can support their organization’s continued operations.
That being said, we realize that there are many who cannot afford to purchase the subscription, and we, as a Christian organization, have to prioritize those who are experiencing poverty. So we decided to give a lot of our content away for free forever. We have thousands of sessions available for free forever: the daily rosary, the daily gospel, hundreds of meditations, music, and more. If someone is able to and wants to subscribe to unlock the rest of the content, they can choose to whenever they want, but they should be able to use the app to grow sustainably in their prayer life without paying.
On top of that, we give away one free subscription for every one that’s purchased. Currently, we are giving away free subscriptions to all clergy members and have a scholarship path for other people to request free subscriptions.
“This app has forever changed my life. It is so good at improving my nonexistent prayer life. I am more devout in my faith. I have incorporated prayer in every aspect of my life. I wake up using Hallow, work with Hallow, pray with my children with Hallow, lectio divina, adoration, reconciliation, listen to hymns and have done novenas. So worth the money my entire family is using it. Thank you Hallow for helping me become a more devout catholic and grow every day in the faith.”
“I discovered Hallow when I needed to reinforce my faith, I just want to give some positive feedback – it’s worth every penny!”
“So many good resources, paid for the annual subscription – more than worth the money”
Trying to keep the mission always at our center
Anyway – I know this is a lot, but I just want to be as transparent as I possibly can with the decisions we make. At the end of the day, every decision we make at Hallow is made through prayer and consultation with the Church and spiritual directors. We hold ourselves to putting our mission first in everything we do, from product to pricing, hiring to firing, and strategy to governance. We structured ourselves as a public-benefit corporation in order to hold ourselves accountable to our mission while also leveraging the best of the startup world. In everything we do, our goal is simply to listen to what God is asking us to do and to do it: to let God Hallow our lives – and this is where we think He’s leading us today.
“I absolutely adore this Hallow App. It’s worth every penny and it motivates me each day.”
“Absolutely wonderful and inspiring! Thank you. It is so worth every cent!!”
“This app is worth every cent. There are so many elements to it that have helped to build up and enrich my prayer life.”
“I pray with Hallow every day. Most important app I’ve ever downloaded.”