Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And We're Back...

It was an extremely busy fundraising season and the blog didn't get any attention for a few months. Yes, it was that busy in November and December. The era of two pledges drives per year is long gone. Most stations do three. Some do four. Others more.

Expenses are rising faster than stations can create fundraising efficiencies. We expect to see even greater pressure on pledge drives in the coming years as stations continue spend on web and local news activities that are not fully paying for themselves.

December is turning out to be a very good fundraising season for stations, those doing pledge drives and those just increasing the amount of snail mail, on-air spots, and email appeals. There is growth potential here.

We expect 2011 to be a another good year for membership fundraising, especially if the battle over federal funding for public radio spills into the general media. The more publicity the issue gets outside of public radio, the better it will be for fundraising.

Conversely, if the issue fizzles publicly, then its impact on membership fundraising will be minimal. This happened about five years ago when several stations tried to turn an effort to cut CPB funding into a fundraising theme. The threat was real but the issue never popped on TV news, on the cable networks, or with the major newspapers. The whole thing sounded like stations crying wolf to make a few bucks. It was highly ineffective.

The fact is, more listeners will start giving and current donors will give more without prompting once they see a threat that's real. They get it. And we do think the issue will pop. After all, Fox's Roger Ailes seems eager to play the role of Next Gingrich this go around.

Our advice to stations -- don't rush into fundraising around federal funding until it plays out a bit more. This is a serious issue and you don't want to sound like you're happy to exploit it for fundraising purposes.

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