Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Fundraising Philosophy

The industry received good news when the Station Resource Group released its report on public radio revenue in FY 2003. Net income from individual giving was at an all-time high. Net income per hour of listening was close to an all-time high. In FY 2003, public radio generated 1.37 cents of net revenue per listener-hour.

That statistic, net income per listener-hour, is often used as a benchmark by stations looking to assess the performance of their fundraising efforts. There are two things to remember when doing this. First, it is an average for public radio. As such, the majority of stations did not achieve this level of performance. Second, it obscures the most important distinction between the top-fundraising stations and all others – fundraising philosophy.

Some stations choose to raise what they need each year. Other stations choose to raise as much as they can while keeping pledge drives and fundraising costs under control. That second group -- which includes stations of all formats, licensee types, and market-sizes -- is netting upwards of 2 cents per listener-hour. It doesn’t seem like much when you’re talking in pennies, but improving from 1.37 to 2 cents per listener-hour translates to 45% more net revenue.

That’s at least $100,000 in additional net revenue for the average station. It’s there for the taking, but only when a station deliberately chooses to reach its full potential.

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