Fundraising Principles and Philosophy
Fundraising Unlocks the Value of Your Service to Individuals
Decades of research tells us that the more someone uses your service, the more likely they are to give. Core listeners tend to give. Fringe listeners do not. The first step in fundraising success is getting people to use your service more often.
People who don’t value your service won’t give. Seems obvious. The implications for on-air fundraising are significant. Today’s on-air fundraising doesn't have to convince a listener of the value she receives. Effective fundraising just has to remind her of that value and then attach to it a reason to give now and in a certain way, such as becoming a monthly sustaining member. If you spend too much time trying to convince a listener of your value, then you are missing opportunities to get those who are already convinced to give now.
It’s Getting Harder to Motivate People to Give on Your Timeline
It’s getting measurably more difficult to get a listener to give during an on-air drive. The demand is higher than ever for the listener’s attention and dollars.
There was a time when the public radio pledge drive might have been the only direct appeal for money a listener received in the morning. Getting listeners to act because it was important to you was easier then. Today, the listener wakes up to a smart phone filled with offers and asks from retailers, service providers, and non-profits. The effect is numbing.
Today’s on-air fundraising must break through this fierce competition and be compelling enough to get the listener to act now. This is much different from the past approach, when fundraising could succeed by sounding as much like the regular programming as possible. Those days are gone.
Your on-air fundraising must stand out from what you normally do in order to make the best use of your time and your listener’s time. That doesn't mean public radio programming values are absent from fundraising. Running against values is a recipe for disaster. It does mean you have to produce fundraising that pops out of the radio and compels someone to act now.
On-air Fundraising is an Essential Tool for Acquiring Sustainers and Raising Money
As important as on-air fundraising is, it should not be your station’s primary source of listener support. Most of your listener support should come from current sustaining members, direct mail, and other off-air activities. On-air drives should be your primary source for acquiring monthly sustaining givers and a meaningful source of cash for the current fiscal year.
Sustaining Givers Changed Everything
Public radio’s success with monthly sustaining givers changed everything about setting goals for on-air drives. Before sustainers, a station would set a dollar goal or a donor goal for its drive. More than 90% of the money pledged would be fulfilled within a week or so.
On-air drives today are as much about the future as they are about the current year and this creates tension in the drive planning process. Sustainers are great for long-term income, but the more you get in any one drive, the less cash you realize in the current fiscal year.
We can help your station find the right balance between cash in the door and sustainer acquisition.
Our Strategy: Planning, Preparation, Performance
Success is in the planning. Our strategy begins with an efficiency analysis of your past results and then uses that analysis to identify your greatest opportunities for improvement. From there we move to Planning, Preparation and Performance.
Planning involves creating a drive footprint that aligns audience, incentives, and your fundraising talent to deliver the best, and most consistent, results. The footprint accounts for the flow of an on-air drive, highly leveraging those days and programs that do well and making the most from those times that often lag.
Preparation involves training, practice and developing the on-air and off-air materials needed to execute the plan.
Performance is about translating the plan into effective fundraising. It is about making sure that what comes out of the speaker is clear and compelling to the listener.
We can help you plan the most efficient and effective drive given your audience. We can help you prepare for success before the drive begins. And we can help you deliver a more compelling on-air performance by training pitchers and producers to hear on-air fundraising the way listeners hear it.