Jay Clayton and Ellen Guettler

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Donors Want to Support Winners: Why Negative Fundraising Doesn't Work

Membership, Major Giving, General Management, Federal Funding, tax law

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If a station floods in a hurricane, it's an emergency. It's an unusual event, not anticipated, requiring immediate intervention, short-term in duration. You should be able to depend on donors to come to your aid to help resolve the problem.
 
The threat of losing federal funding is not such an event.
 
It's not new and can be seen as an always-present possibility, depending on who is in power. One could argue that public media has had time to develop fundraising and financing strategies that could, over time, lessen dependency on government funding.
 
Sounding the alarm in a chronic situation eventually loses its punch.
 
Instead, donors start thinking about the number of times they have stepped up to the plate already to help you solve a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away. Instead of taking your side, they might start asking, “What have you done with the money we already gave you? Have you established a long-term fund, or did our contributions just go into the general operating budget?”
 
At some point, you will be called to account.
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