Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Tangled Web We Weave

There's a new and growing obstacle in the effort to shorten station pledge drives -- underwriting and major donor revenues.

An increasing number of stations are using pledge drives as leverage for closing underwriting and major donor deals. It's a win-win when those deals result in challenges, premiums, or giveaways that generate more pledges, faster.

The downside is that stations are closing more of these deals in order to boost major donor and underwriting revenues. Shortening pledge drives mean fewer deals can be made. In essence, shortening pledge drives reduces the inventory of value-added selling opportunities. That isn't sitting well with some. For example:

- A station exceeded its 14-day pledge drive goal two days early. Programming and membership wanted to end the drive after 12 days but couldn't because of promises to let station underwriters come on the air and pitch.

- A station trying to plan a 1-Day pledge drive (it usually does 5 or 6 day drives) gets internal resistance because there are no challenge grant opportunities for underwriters or major donors.

These problems aren't so great that they can't be solved over time, but they do present an interesting question.

Are stations putting future underwriting and major donor revenues at risk by linking them too closely to pledge drives?

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