Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Putting the "you" in fundraising

In a few days I’ll discover for myself what the economy’s like. Well, I already know from a personal standpoint. I mean I’ll find out what the general tone among the public is –- at least a certain part.

Friday morning begins the fall fund drive for WTJU in Charlottesville, Virginia. Public radio stations across the nation have reported wildly varying results from their drives. Some stations met their goals, others exceeded them, and many, of course, didn’t even come close.

When money gets tight, folks start to prioritize. How important is that cup of gourmet coffee? Would a cup at a convenience store do just as well? Or perhaps it makes more sense to brew it at home and use a travel mug?

Fund-raising on the radio is a tricky proposition during the best of times. Using only your voice, you have to remind folks of the value the station has in their lives, and why it’s important that they support it financially.

Working against you is the fact that most people listen to the radio while doing other things -– driving, cleaning house, doing chores, working, and so on –- so you seldom have their undivided attention. Furthermore, you’re asking them to pay for something that perceived as free. After all, anyone can turn on the radio and listen to WTJU –- there’s no subscription involved. Folks could listen their entire lives and never contribute a dime, and they’d enjoy just as much of the programming as the people who give thousands.

So why support a public radio station? You shouldn’t do it because it’s a good thing to do -– you should do it because the station is an important part of your life. Think about the radio station you regularly listen to (or audio stream or podcast). Would your life be diminished somehow if it went away?

If the answer’s “yes,” then you need to contribute. Even though times are tough, if the programming nourishes your spirit, then you need to support that station so that it can continue to do so. Call it enlightened self-interest. Your donation ultimately benefits all listeners (even those life-long freeloaders), but first and foremost it helps maintain the quality of your life.

If you’re in WTJU’s listening area, I hope you tune in for the Marathon. You can also listen online if you aren’t. And if you regularly listen to another non-commercial station and haven’t yet done so, please give them a call and make a pledge. You're only helping yourself.

- Ralph

Day 127 of the WJMA Web Watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment