At first glance, there are definitely similarities between Prodana and Patreon, the popular membership platform where artists and creators can build and maintain a relationship with their “patrons”, who financially support their creative work.
In truth, Patreon was the inspiration behind Prodana, alongside Fiverr, a marketplace that successfully “productized” services in an organized and formal way.
Here are some key distinctions though, between Prodana and Patreon:
Patreon is for artists and creators, Prodana is for mental health service providers. An artist can create one thing and share it with many people. A mental health service provider is almost always committing their time and energy to one person or a small group of people. There is a lot less scale in this field, it is ultimately a service, a labor of love, and success is measured in hours put in. Prodana recognizes this by verifying those hours occurred and putting them on prominent display.
Patreon puts the onus on the creator, Prodana delegates it to the client. In Patreon, the creators must post updates, exclusive content, or other collateral on their site for their patrons to access and measure their success. For the sake of authenticity and transparency, Prodana shifts the focus to the clients a clinician sees – it is they who verify that a session occurred and leave feedback in their own words, making for a much more authentic and honest experience.
Patreon is about exclusive access to an artist, Prodana is about helping a practitioner reach more people. This subtle distinction lies at the root of Prodana, and is what makes it a bigger gamble on the goodness of humanity – there is no direct return on your investment in a Prodana practitioner. In Patreon, there is still an element of selfishness – I give a monthly gift, and I get some sort of exclusive access in return. Prodana frames the entire experience as an investment in others; more similar to a conventional charity crowdfunding campaign, except you actually get reports back on the impact of your contribution due to the quantifiable nature of a therapy session.
Aside from these core philosophical differences, Prodana also has a few technical distinctions that were created specifically for its niche – you can make both single and recurring contributions, because any amount helps; you can also contact a clinician directly from their profile page to get support if you need it, in a sense functioning as a directory for well-reviewed practitioners.
In Greater Detail
Below is a deeper dive into the distinctions between the two platforms.
Patreon allows a creator to define different “tiers” of access based on the size of a patron’s monthly contribution. In return, the creator typically shares exclusive content with different people in diffierent tiers – anything from special works of art, sneak previews, or behind the scenes looks into the life of an artist.
Patreon even allows creators to link their donations to actual creative products, which is the part that makes it most similar to Prodana. A sponsor can define a certain amount of money that they allocate to a podcast creator per episode; they then get automatically billed each time an episode is released.
I was recently asked by a colleague what prevents a therapist or healer to set up their own Patreon account to collect funds to support their work. I think it’s a valid question. Here’s my take:
Prodana vs. Patreon: Different Purposes
At its root, most crowdfunding platforms have a cyclical structure – I give you money, I get something in return. Maybe it’s an innovative cooler, maybe it’s a relationship with an artist. Even charity crowdfunding websites often have social recognition component built in to them – a leaderboard listing the names of donors, or teams ranked by the most amount raised.
Prodana has a different structure – when you support a healer, you are not asking for something in return. Instead, you are investing in their efforts to heal the world. You don’t want anything in return, you want to pay your appreciation forward.
Instead of concerning themselves with different tiers, or sending you perks, a practitioner can focus all their efforts on helping as many people as possible. The platform reports the quantitative and qualitative results of their work back to the contributors, letting them know their money is going to good use.
Conversely, unlike Patreon, Prodana is not an investment in the clinician themselves, but rather in their concerted efforts to help others. On Patreon, it’s possible for a Rockstar artist to accumulate hundereds of thousands of dollars from supportive fans. This is justified either because art and creativity can easily scale in the digital world, creators can often have strong personalities that capture the hearts of many.
One Hour at a Time
The world of mental health is far more personal, and doesn’t scale the same way. Personality only goes so far when it comes to helping others discover and heal themselves.
On Prodana, a value is attributed to the time the practitioner spends with the client (and we encourage this rate to be fair, even generous); and this amount only gets paid out when the practitioner actually meets and connects with another person.
We recognize that it takes many people putting in many hours to make a deep impact, that’s why our goal is to help as many practitioners as possible commit their time and energy towards this purpose, backed by the generosity of others.
Patreon is all about ongoing relationships – they market themselves as a membership platform, and do not even offer single donations. Prodana takes a more broad and practical approach: if the goal is to help as many people as possible, and you can only afford, or are only inspired, to give a one-time gift, by all means do so.
I, the contributor, think your awesome and capable and talented, but my contribution is not about me having a relationship with you, it’s about you sharing your gifts with the world. I don’t need to buy your attention, I know you’d give it to me freely if and when it was possible for you to.
Is it possible to create a setup on Patreon that is similar to Prodana’s? Possibly, although we do have several features geared specifically towards paying healing forward in the most practical and flexible way possible.
But at its root, it’s the underlying philosophy behind every dollar contributed on the platform that sets Prodana apart.