Make This the Year to Beat for Year-End Major Giving

Major Giving, calendar year-end, giving clubs

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Every fundraiser looks hopefully to December when so many people give generously to nonprofits. In fact, over 30% of the annual gifts made happen in the month of December. There is great opportunity to connect to some of your most generous supporters by ensuring that your organization's gift-club donors ($1,000 - $5,000) are asked to renew their gifts before the end of the calendar year.

Here's a concrete (hypothetical) example of how gift-club renewals can line you up to meet your year-end goal: Say your station has a budget gap of $150,000 between your year-end goal and  your giving total as of December 1st. If you have 500 gift-club members ($1,200 entry gift), and 100 of them are due to renew their gifts in November/December, there is an opportunity to ask for $120,000 in gifts.

The difference between finishing the year on-budget or not could come down to the number of gift-club asks you make, so don’t delay. Here is a plan of action to solicit these donors and help them to be a vital part of your organization's successes in the coming year.

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The Good Things We're Doing With Our Member Survey (And How You Can Survey Too!)

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, marketing, surveys

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This September, Greater Public surveyed our members with the goal of determining how well we were serving them in our four main resource areas: our website, our ongoing webinar series, our professional advising team, and Benchmarks for public media. We serve fundraisers in public media - the ones who make sure public and community radio have the means to serve listeners - and we want to ensure we’re providing the best information and cutting-edge ideas so that they may succeed and, ultimately, public media succeeds. In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the raw data that our survey yielded, along with our own impressions of what it means, why it’s important, and what we’re doing to make our resources better.

We all take surveys (or are asked to!) and we almost never see what companies are doing with them. We want to be transparent about the feedback we get and what we’re doing about it. We also know many of our members also conduct surveys and we want to reveal how we go about doing ours so you can see too.

As we reviewed the results, we found that few criticisms were truly surprising to us. We had a sense for where we needed to do better before the survey went out, and had begun work on several projects that our survey-takers said they needed. We also discovered some new areas for improvement. Surveys can serve many purposes: to illuminate things going wrong you didn't know about, or reinforce what you already knew about needed changes. If you decide to take on a survey, know that the feedback can provide credibility and urgency when you need to, for example, request additional resources to make something better.

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Molly Davis’s Top Four Recommendations for Achieving Meteoric Growth With Benchmarks

Membership, General Management, Corporate Support, Major Giving, Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising

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Molly Davis says the first year was the hardest. It was also what set her station on a course for unprecedented fundraising growth.

The assistant general manager at 88.5 WFDD in North Carolina has overseen her station's data entry for Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising for the past four years. In order to receive her customized report, Davis was charged with gathering audience, expense, and revenue numbers from several different departments within the organization. Finding the right numbers to enter that first year was, frankly, hard.

The Challenges

WFDD is a university licensee; some of the raw data Davis needed was provided by staff members in campus financial services, who weren’t fully versed in the public radio business model or in the purpose of Benchmarks reports. When she reviewed her station’s past reports, she discovered their data had been entered both incorrectly and inconsistently. A key feature of Benchmarks is the ability to analyze year-over-year performance to highlight areas of opportunity. She began to take detailed notes on how each point of data should be calculated and where it came from (use our handy worksheet for your own notes). This would save anyone coming after her from the confusion she faced; it also vastly simplified her process the following year.

The Roadmap

After completing (and documenting) her data-entry process, Davis received her station’s report. It showed several areas where WFDD could be performing better. Some might have read the results with disappointment. Not Davis.

“We had loads of potential,” she remembers. “I pulled out that report and said here’s where we are. We are leaving money on the table.”

The Payoff

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Create Major Donor Offers That Pull Donors in and Keep Them Close

Major Giving

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 A donor offer is a fundraising industry term for telling a story about what will happen when a donor gives a gift. It should be a very short story about why the donor's gift is needed right now, and what the gift will accomplish.

A donor offer isn't about marketing. It's not a perk like a membership premium. It's also not about what the donor will do for our organization. Rather it points to the psychological benefit of giving. To create a strong offer, there are only two stories that matter: 

1.) The donor's story. Tap into the donor's motivation for why they give and what they support. Talk to the donor about what they care about. Your goal is to offer the donor the opportunity to complete their story (your organization is not the hero of this story!)

"Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world's needs."    
-Frederick Buechner

2.) The story about the needYou're not trying to tell the donor how great your reporting is, or how wonderful your organization is. You must illustrate the need and the problem that the donor can connect with. 

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How to Write a Capital Campaign Case Statement That Dazzles Donors

capital campaign, case statement, Major Giving

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One of the most visible work products of a capital campaign is the campaign case statement. This cornerstone – and, ideally, captivating – document illustrates the need your campaign is addressing, why it is urgent to address it now, and persuades the reader that they are key to making transformational change. It is a chance to demonstrate why your station is in a unique position to do amazing things. The most fabulous case statements are concise, urgent, and inspiring.

Your case statement should be unique to your organization and to the project that you are raising money to create. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but you must create a document that will clearly communicate to your prospective donors:

1. The problem facing your community

2. What your project is and how it solves the problem

3. Why they should be a part of the solution

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Three Easy Ways to Amplify Planned Giving at Your Station

planned giving, Major Giving

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For most organizations, the opportunity that awaits in planned giving is tremendous. It’s not uncommon for a station to have more interest from donors than there are resources to follow up on. The following suggestions come from the major and planned giving team at Wisconsin Public Television as part of the PMDMC 2018 session “Turn Up the Volume on Planned Giving.” These are a few simple ideas for how to capture and cultivate donor interest in planned giving.

Become truly donor-centric.

Being truly donor-centric in everything you do extends to how conversations take place internally. Wisconsin Public Television has chosen to be conscious about how it refers to its donors, never focusing on “getting” a gift, but always on the donor’s act of “giving” a gift. Even choices in language help transmit your team’s values and can be felt by the donors you’re working with.

The WPT team likes to think of a quote by Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”:

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has - or ever will have - something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”

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Why Planned Giving Makes a Difference: The Story Behind KEXP’s Surprise Transformational Estate Gift

planned giving, estate planning, legacy giving, bequests, Major Giving, Membership

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Co-written by Ellen Guettler

KEXP didn’t expect that its first-ever realized bequest would also be the largest philanthropic gift in the station’s history and one of the largest estate gifts ever received by a public media organization.

The donor, known outside of KEXP only as Suzanne, out of respect for her desire to give anonymously during her lifetime, gave a gift of just under $10 million to the station through her estate plan. The planned gift was announced in April of this year and has been transformative for KEXP.

Suzanne had shared her intent to make an estate gift—although not the size or amount—with Betsy Troutman, KEXP’s Director of Development. Troutman says that Suzanne was a strong believer in the station’s mission to connect people and bring joy through the power of music. She had given generously, particularly during the station’s 2013 capital campaign. But, like many other KEXP donors, she was relatively young.

“I set it aside in my mind,” Troutman remembers of the conversation about estate planning. “I thanked her, of course. But I thought, well, there will be time to talk about that.”

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Evidence of Growing Audience Trust in Public Radio

Membership, Corporate Support, General Management, marketing, Major Giving

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Reprinted with permission from Jacobs Media Blog.

Whether you’re in middle school or are a media brand, these days there’s nothing as toxic as a bad reputation. These days, just the utterance of the term, “fake news,” unleashes a torrent of emotion, whether you’re a journalist, a politician, or just a member of the masses.

A recent story in Fast Company by Gloria Origgi suggests we’ve left the “Information Age,” and now reside in a world where it’s all about reputation… and of course, that means trust.

Origgi makes the point that while most of us don’t have the time or bandwidth to track a story or a rumor down, we have come more and more to rely on sources that have earned our trust.

And many think that’s a trend – that in the not-so-distant future, it will become less about how we critically assess a story, but how much we trust in the information source that delivers that content. Origgi quotes Frederick Hayek who postulated that “civilization rests on the fact that we all benefit from knowledge which we do not possess.”

So, who do people believe? And where do radio stations, personalities, hosts, and media brands stand on the “Trust-o-meter?” Do consumers trust in the radio stations they listen to, whether it’s delivering the news or giving away tickets to that Arctic Monkeys concert?

At Jacobs Media, we conduct a considerable amount of research – both qualitative and quantitative – in the public radio space. These stations are enjoying some of the strongest ratings in the history of their platform, and audience trust is a key driver of their success.

Our most recent Public Radio Techsurvey (our 10th annual is in the field right now), seeks to better understand the medium’s “core values.” And trust is an attribute we track.

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Protecting Fundraisers From Sexual Harassment by Donors

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, #metoo, PMDMC

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Chronicle of Philanthropy writer Timothy Sandoval offers these concrete suggestions from three experts about what organizations should do to protect fundraisers and others involved in seeking gifts from sexual harassment by donors.

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

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

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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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