What the Hacking of Half a Billion Credit Cards Means for Public Media

Membership, sustainers, credit cards

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When the news broke today that as many as 500 million Marriott Starwood customers were victims of a data breach exposing their personal and financial information over the course of four years, we were, of course, immediately concerned about effects on our industry.

When a member hands over their personal data, the responsibility that comes with it is paramount. Failing to secure that data can cause significant material losses. What’s worse, the loss of a member’s trust may be irreparable.

If you haven’t already, verify that your systems are PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. Non-compliance can cost you thousands upon thousands in fines and lost revenue.

The reality of our data-dependent world is that a breach in one industry will have ripple effects. Here’s what you can do to manage the consequences the Marriott breach is likely to have.

Prepare for an increase in sustainer card declines.

Half a billion credit cards. That number is staggering. Some of those cards - or many of those cards - may be in your sustainer file. Audit your recapture program and make sure you’re positioned to go after that lost revenue. Use as many channels as you can to get your sustainers back quickly. Consider using the following calendar to connect with donors to update their information:

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Preparing 2018 Tax Statements Under New Tax Law

tax law, tax statements, Membership, General Management, calendar year-end

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Sending gift receipts to donors is an end-of-year obligation for all stations. Embedded in this task is also the tremendous opportunity to thank your major, mid-level, and sustaining donors for a year of support.

Of course, there’s been a significant change to tax law since you last mailed your year-end statements. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made no significant changes that should impact the compliance component of the tax statements provided to donors.

Compliance isn’t the only concern. We haven’t been able to predict how changes in the standard deduction requirements will affect overall charitable giving. Tax experts and fundraisers alike are watching this unfold. Therefore, it’s even more critical to communicate to donors that they are public radio’s largest and most important source of funding. This message is important year-round, but should be the foundation of your 2018 year-end communication with donors.

As you prepare your 2018 year-end correspondence, here’s what to keep in mind.

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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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Introduction

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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What the Latest Data Tells Us About Calendar-Year-End Giving

Membership, email, calendar year-end

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Original data presented by Karen Hopper, senior data strategist, M+R.

Each year, the online marketing and PR group M+R conducts Benchmarks, a study of 154 nonprofits focused on their online strategy and performance. This year's findings about calendar-year-end giving were particularly illuminating. 

First, M + R wanted to know how much December giving would fluctuate from 2016 to 2017, since many organizations experienced a significant bump in year-end giving revenue after the 2016 election.

For the 22 organizations for which M+R has year-over-year data, most saw a 12% increase in year-end giving over that of 2016, which was the same increase as the year before (from 2015 to 2016). But the growth wasn't evenly distributed. The nonprofits that became or remained very political after the 2016 election experienced an exceptionally high giving increase that year. Those organizations had a harder time sustaining their giving increase in 2017. These groups actually saw an average 3% decline in end-of-year revenue from 2016.

There Is Nothing Like a Deadline

Behold: the typical inbox on December 31 of someone who belongs to a lot of email lists:

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Your Email and Social Media Action Plan for #GivingTuesday

Membership, #GivingTuesday, calendar year-end, social media, Social/Mobile

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Launched by New York’s 92nd Street Y in 2012, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media. It always falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving; this year that's November 27, 2018.

It's essential to prepare in advance in order to execute a successful #GivingTuesday campaign. Start promoting on-air and online at least three weeks before the event. Make sure your landing page, email, and social media tactics are in place. And on November 27, here's what you should have in place in order to harness the growing levels of giving that occur on this day.

Email

Send a minimum of two emails on #GivingTuesday that include a #GivingTuesday header graphic (600 x 200 pixels). The first email should be sent in the morning announcing “It’s #GivingTuesday!” and the second in the afternoon for announcing that your station has reached XX% of its fundraising goal. Also, in the morning, send an email your ambassadors to call them to action and to express gratitude for their participation.

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Start Finding Valuable Donors Online Using Basic Digital Advertising

Membership, digital revenue, digital marketing

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As more people in station audiences interact with stations strictly online, it’s crucial that public media stations meet these audiences where they are. One effective way to do that is to use digital advertising to acquire new donors and increase revenue.

What is digital advertising?

Digital advertising combines all of your digital donor outreach efforts into a single, cohesive strategy. It includes graphic ads with a call to action, called retargeting, like the ads that follow you around the Internet after you search for a new pair of shoes online, for example. It also includes social media efforts, robust email marketing and fundraising campaigns, demographic ad targeting, and your Google Ad Grant.

Demographic ad targeting creates a lookalike audience made up of people who match the demographic of your current membership. Ideally this lookalike audience will be highly receptive to your message and will be willing to invest in your station. This is very similar to strategies used in acquisition-mail list planning, for example, where the mail is targeted to donors who are predisposed to support your cause.

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How National Geographic Builds Social Media Trust During the Facebook Apocalypse

PMDMC, social media, Social/Mobile, facebook, Membership, General Management

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Thanks to “fake news,” bots, and political polarization online, trust in social media is at an all-time low. But social platforms still offer a powerful way to connect with audiences and donors.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans regularly use social media (Pew Research Center, 2018) and 31% of online donors now say that social media is the communication tool that most often inspires them to give, surpassing email for the first time (Global Trends in Giving Report, 2018).

A PMDMC 2018 session entitled “Building Brand Trust and Engagement in the Facebook Apocalypse” explored how one superstar brand, National Geographic, has built and maintained its social media effectiveness in an era of social media mistrust.

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IRS Rules You Must Follow for Contests and Drawings

Membership, tax law, pledge drive

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Raffles or drawings can accomplish fundraising goals for a tax-exempt organization while also providing entertainment for the organization and participants. But these fundraising events require a bit of tax planning to keep IRS issues at bay (and note that separate laws apply to state-level and federal income tax exemptions).

The IRS views raffles and drawings similarly to lotteries: participants pay for the chance to win prizes, and the host typically determines winners by drawing tickets at random.

When hosting a raffle or drawing, tax-exempt organizations may need to:

  • Obtain information about the prize winners
  • Report prizes to the IRS
  • Notify the winners of this reporting
  • Withhold federal income tax on the prizes
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How Minnesota Public Radio Captured the #MPRraccoon Sensation to Connect With Its Audience

Membership, Engagement, marketing

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Reprinted with permission from Solution Set reports from The Lenfest Institute and The Solutions Journalism Network

On Tuesday, June 12, a raccoon got stranded on the side of an office building across the street from Minnesota Public Radio, the public radio station in the Twin Cities.

The station’s reporters quickly dubbed the critter #MPRraccoon, and as it climbed up the building to safety it attracted worldwide attention. But as the newsroom covered the viral phenom, others at MPR tried to meet listeners’ request for raccoon merchandise. This week in Solution Set, I spoke with some of 
MPR’s leadership to better understand how they responded to this unique moment.

The Challenge

June 12 was a fairly normal Tuesday afternoon at Minnesota Public Radio until staffers noticed something odd on the building across the street: A raccoon was climbing up the side of a building.
 
Journalists, as they’re wont to do, quickly began tweeting about the little critter, and MPR reporter Tim Nelson christened it the #MPRraccoon as he reported extensively on the animal’s progress.
 
Soon, people far beyond Minnesota began following the raccoon’s ascent. Social media posts spread rapidly around the Internet, #MPRRaccoon trended on Twitter, and news organizations from around the world began publishing stories about the raccoon.
 
People from all around the world also began producing art depicting the raccoon’s challenge. And as the drawings and depictions appeared on social media, users had another request: Can I get an #MPRraccoon tote bag or T-shirt? (This is public media after all.)
 
So as the raccoon continued its climb, MPR began thinking about how it could make the most out of the unexpected attention.
 
“The conversations were how do we, Minnesota Public Radio, respond to this? It was more about feeding what the audience wanted and being true to who we were than how can we make money so to speak,” said Jennifer Van Zandt, managing director of marketing & creative services.

The Strategy

#MPRraccoon took off on Tuedsay afternoon, June 12. The raccoon safely reached the top of the building in the early morning hours of the following day, Wednesday, June 13.
 
By that afternoon, MPR was already selling T-shirts and tote bags.

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