The New York Times has a report on two magazine brands that are thriving: AARP and Consumer Reports. Their parallels to the success of online communities is a key ingredient:
“…perhaps most vexing to publishers are the online rivals that at first blush do not appear commercially motivated. Instead, these companies start from a position of how best to make themselves useful to the communities they serve. And then, down the line, they figure out ways to make — or, in the case of that Google gang, mint — money.”
The article really hits home the importance of valuing the delicate relationship with readers. While this is more easily ingrained in a non-profit, there are many successful for profit businesses that are aligned to this model.