Article
March 12, 2009

Tuning in to Public Radio's Best Pledge-Drive Pitches

As public radio stations around the country once again interrupt their regular programming this winter to cajole, badger, and bribe their recession-plagued listeners into pledging their support, Alan Smith, a public-radio alumnus, muses on the PhilanthroMedia blog about what other charities can learn from such efforts.

June Thomas’ recent list on Slate.com of the 10 most effective fund-raising tricks employed by public-radio stations during these drives prompted him to recall his own experiences with such campaigns, he writes.

“Her list seems spot on to me, calling out the impulse towards fund raising by guilt (major turn off) and complementing the ways in which public radio has come to really know its audience and know how to motivate them,” Mr. Smith writes. Ms. Thomas’ list includes such perennial ploys as donor gifts, flattery, offers to match donations, and a strategy she sums up as “stop me before I pitch again.”

Mr. Smith marvels at the effectiveness of these strategies, and wonders if other charities can learn a thing or two from them. Because of what he calls the “intimacy and connectivity” of radio no doubt plays a role in these drives’ success, he writes, “other causes . . . need to pick carefully from the top ten list: I can guarantee that there are very few large groups of people that will keep coming back after by an entire week and a half of constant badgering, but I also have noticed that I was more likely to give to a campaign if they were offering some sort of gift that they thought I might like.”

What do you think other charities can learn from the way public radio stations conduct their on-air pledge drives? Click on the “comments” link below to join the discussion.