The Great Major Giving Pivot

Major Giving, General Management, leadership, philanthropy

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Whenever I talk to leaders in other nonprofit industries about fundraising for public media, they tell me how lucky we are. They understand that our supporters - the people who love and give to public media - are truly the stuff of envy. Our fans proclaim their adoration on tote bags, in dating apps, in conversations with friends and family, and by becoming members. More than half of public media donors are sustaining members; they give year after year. This percentage is head-and-shoulders above the share of sustainers that can be claimed by other nonprofits. Not surprisingly, overall retention among public media donors is also significantly higher than the national index.

Public media has nearly perfected the model of raising money from a large swath of people who love what we do. Our central strategy has historically relied on the fact that our supporters engage with us everyday, all day long on our airwaves. When we want them to give, we don’t have to go far to get their attention. We simply go on-air and ask. These donor interactions are straightforward and transactional. And they deliver.

Like I said, the stuff of envy! Of course, our greatest strengths can conceal our greatest weaknesses, or, as I see them, our greatest opportunities.

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Three Trends That Prove You’re Not in the Radio (or TV) Business Anymore

Corporate Support

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Paul Jacobs recently shared conclusions about the future of corporate support revenue based on years of research and data analysis. Jacobs is vice president/general manager of Jacobs Media, which has provided programming, digital, sales, and social media consulting to commercial and public radio stations for the past 35 years. Jacobs Media is also home to the Halo Effect research we use every day. His conclusions underscore some essential - and imminent - realities about the way we sell underwriting in today’s media environment.

  1. People have many more ways to spend their time with media today than they ever have in the past. Radio accounts for 17% of all media consumption, and this holds true across all ages. While the car remains the main place people listen, 20% of smart speaker owners say they are listening to a little more or a lot more radio, which speaks to more in-home listening. Of course, the days of two bands and five presets on the dashboard are over. The amount of content and content sources competing for listeners’ attention is vast.
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How Michigan Radio Uses Instagram to Cultivate Audience Engagement

instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, General Management, Engagement

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When digital director Jodi Westrick was hired at Michigan Radio, she knew her new station was excellent at telling stories with audio and website content. Her goal was to expand the reach of those stories to new and different audiences.

Westrick and her team began synopsizing the station’s reporting on the Instagram platform using single images, slideshows, and video. These Instagram posts link back to the full stories using instructions to “visit the link in our bio.”

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Great Sales Managers Are the Result of Great Training

training, Corporate Support, General Management

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I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review Daily Alert titled “Why New Sales Managers Need More Training” by Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha and Sally E. Lorimer. The article really resonated with me, especially when they mentioned the Peter Principal where “companies promote their best salespeople to become their worst managers.”

I was that person - a top salesperson who wanted to be a manager - and then quickly learned that I was not good at it! The things that made me great at one thing were not the skills needed to be a successful at the other. Fortunately for me, I worked for an organization that offered strong mentoring and training, and so I was able to acquire the skills to transition into management.

In smaller public media operations, the above scenario plays out every day: A sales manager retires or steps down, the station scrambles to get someone in place ASAP, and the first place they look is internally. Who is our best rep?

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How to Get "in the Zone" in Underwriting Sales More Often

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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There’s a familiar phrase in professional sports: “in the zone.” Professional basketball  players on a hot streak shooting from beyond the three-point line are in the zone. Baseball players enjoying a hitting streak might say the ball seems impossible not to hit when they are in the zone. When a golfer’s swing seems effortless, when she sinks her putts on the green with ease, she’s in the zone.

What contributes to being in the zone? Being completely focused on the moment. Everything else seems to fade into the background, including the noise of the crowd.

When performing an activity, and being immersed in the moment, there’s an energized focus. Being in the zone is when you’re completely involved and concentrating on your actions.

In sales, you experience being in the zone, mainly when three conditions are in play:

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Station Results From Our Calendar-Year-End Fundraising Survey

Membership, calendar year-end

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The last quarter of the calendar year (October-December) is a critical fundraising period for stations. With fall drives and year-end giving occurring in these months, the fundraising outcomes are important to the overall success of your program regardless of whether this period coincides with the end of a station’s fiscal year.

Last year, we began hearing a mix of optimism and concern from our members about quarter four of 2018. So we decided to survey stations to learn how 2018 came out, and preview plans for 2019.

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How to Handle Common Objections to Digital Sponsorship

digital sponsorship, Corporate Support

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Just like with other advertising platforms, underwriters who are considering digital sponsorship can have recurring concerns that prevent them from signing deals, whether they are skeptical about digital advertising in general, or perhaps have unrealistic expectations of what digital marketing alone can achieve.

Concern: Is Digital Sponsorship Generally Effective?

It's not uncommon to hear that underwriters have concerns about digital in general, or feel their click-through rates are too low. These underwriters may be accustomed to cheaper CPMs, and may have a dislike or distrust of mobile media.

Although digital is known to be effective and generates a massive amount of underwriting revenue, some underwriters have general concerns about digital and hesitate to allocate a portion of their budget to this type of sponsorship. These are usually underwriters who have a lack of personal experience with buying digital.

Response: Examples of Success

If a potential sponsor believes digital isn't as effective as traditional media, try sharing relevant examples and success stories. We recommend showing examples of competitors running digital ads; MOAT.com is a website that provides insights into where advertisers are running their ads, and can be a good source for advertisers, for example.

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Case Study: How Social Ads and Kickstarter Allowed KPCC to Resurrect LAist

instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, Facebook ads, digital marketing

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Back in 2012, a tiny radio show called 99% Invisible was desperate to continue production of what seemed to be a wildly popular podcast. With few options, host and creator Roman Mars popped up a page on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter and asked his small-but-loyal fan base to keep his show in production. They answered. More than three times over.

The success of 99% Invisible’s Kickstarter campaigns captured a lot of attention in public media. Since then it’s become clear that crowdfunding isn’t ideally suited to support the overall health of a public media station. Rather, the best candidates for these campaigns are stand-alone projects over which an audience feels a sense of strong ownership, and projects that likely could not exist were they unable to meet their funding goal on Kickstarter.

KPCC (Southern California Public Radio)

In 2018, KPCC acquired a shuddered altweekly called LAist. The acquisition was part of a transformative digital strategy aimed at growing and diversifying their audience. Though they purchased the website, they needed funds and supporters to bring it back to life and incorporate the assets with existing KPCC assets: enter Kickstarter.

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Your Cheat Sheet for Digital Sponsorship Calculations

digital sponsorship, Corporate Support

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There’s one reality that every sales rep runs into when becoming a great digital salesperson:

You’re going to have to do some math.

To be clear, it’s not complicated math. And for those of us who do not enjoy spending our time working on calculations, I say: Don’t be intimidated!

Sure, if you read this blog post and never revisit the calculations, the formulas you need for digital sales may feel out of reach. But, if you write down these formulas, tape them to your office wall so you can review them - maybe even try some metrics-calculating practice sessions with your underwriting or digital team - they will become second nature to you.

Calculating CPM

Our first essential calculation is CPM, one of the most frequently used digital calculations:

Revenue = ( Impressions / 1,000 ) x CPM

This is one of those key metrics that everyone selling digital needs to know backwards and forwards.

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How Using Data From Prospect Research Can Boost Major Gifts Revenue

Major Giving, prospecting

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As major giving programs become more important to the overall revenue picture at public media organizations, it is critical to run these programs as efficiently as possible. A key tool for many successful major giving programs is prospect research. Simply put, prospect research is a formal and organized way of determining whether or not a person is a good major gift prospect.

This kind of vetting is commonly used by hospitals and universities. Investments in prospect research aren’t as common in public media because stations tend to start their major giving programs at a lower level of giving ($1,000 or $2,500). As we in public media set our sights on higher levels of giving and conduct more relationship-based major gifts work, the benefits of prospect research become much more pronounced. Prospect research delivers the information and context that major gift officers need in order to do their job efficiently and strategically.

What Is Prospect Research?

Prospect identification and research: discovering and evaluating prospective donors and their interest, relationships, inclination to give and philanthropic capacity to inform and support an organization's fundraising strategies and outreach efforts.

- Apra (Association for Prospect Development)

Prospect research is most often thought of as a simple wealth screening tool where a company does an electronic sweep of all or part of a database and assigns a wealth score or grouping to donors. Prospect research then goes beyond wealth screening to develop a more well-rounded picture of a donor’s possible interest in an organization and in philanthropy, as well as their financial capacity for a charitable gift. Prospect research can be used to find new major giving or planned giving prospects from your current database, manage new prospects as they are discovered, sort through the volume of data you uncover, build major giving portfolios for new gift officers, and help giving officers identify the priority for donor outreach.

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