Friday, February 17, 2006

The Importance Of Integrated Fundraising

While the recent dip in audience has not affected all stations, those that have lost listening face new fundraising challenges.

On-air fund drives succeed because a single appeal to contribute reaches thousands of listeners. For a station with an Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience of 5,000, opening the mic and asking for money is a lot like mailing 5,000 fundraising letters to potential givers. When the AQH goes down, each appeal reaches fewer people. It's like sending fewer letters.

That's not a problem in some cases. A lot of on-air fundraising is highly inefficient. A station can raise more money by getting better at turning the remaining listening into giving.

At some stations, the audience losses are steep enough (especially among Core listeners) or the on-air fundraising is efficient enough already that they will not meet their on-air goals without adding hours or days to the fund drive.

This is where integrated fundraising comes in. Direct mail and email are underutilized at many stations. They remain cost-effective ways to reach current and potential contributors. They are a good way to make up for fewer "on-air appeals heard" due to lower listening levels.

As many stations approach their Spring fund drives, they would do well to look at their audience trends and their off-air fundraising performance. The answer to meeting the Spring on-air fundraising goal might not be opening up the microphone more often but rather shifting some of that goal to off-air activities.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Man With No Name said...

I've been reading your blog for a while, and I've perused the long-neglected (but still useful) pledgewell.org...and I've certainly listened to hundreds of fundraisers, and helped run a few.

The lessons you preach feel, well, kind of obvious to me. I don't say that because I'm accusing you of watering it down. Nor do I feel I am some enlighted guru.

My point is that I'm just confused as to why SO FEW stations seem to take these lessons to heart?

At some stations I work with, fundraising is almost a dirty word. The attitude is almost that the DJ's should be grateful they have listeners and never do something so rude as to beg for money. It's like they feel the budget fairy is the one who pays to keep the lights on and their paychecks coming.

Any ideas for getting around this oft-entrenched mentality?

10:53 AM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

Many stations intend to do the right things, but they get distracted by the next new thing (podcasts, for example) or they suffer staff turnover. It takes incredible discipline to execute the basics week in and week out. Not everyone is good at it. We just hope to give constant reminders to stay on track and to accelerate the learning curve of the newest development director.
As for on-air talent not wanting to ask for money, the best approach is to put them in position to succeed when they do ask for money. Over time, they come on board.

4:35 PM  

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