Fundraising without the Support of On-Air Pledge

Date Published
Leanne Barkley

With the rise of on-demand streaming services like podcasts and Passport, donors are consuming content at their own pace and on their own schedule more than ever before.

When you pair this fact with the amount of commercial streaming services now widely available, plus the additional circumstance of continued growth in the number of sustaining donors (who have a low likelihood of making additional or upgraded gifts during your fundraising drives), it’s no wonder that some public broadcasting stations are seeing declines in on-air revenue.

This environment creates a new challenge. However, it also represents a setting in which most nonprofit organizations – outside the public broadcasting system – operate and thrive… fundraising in a landscape without the support of on-air pledge.

On-air drives are not going away anytime soon, but these campaigns have historically been the focal point for determining a station’s annual solicitation calendar. We already know that stations can experience fundraising success when they send solicitations independent of on-air campaigns. We have seen it work with newsletters, Giving Tuesday or calendar year end emails, special sustainer conversion appeals, and even tax receipts.

Here are a few tips on fundraising outside of those pledge periods to help you make up for some of the lost revenue you are experiencing in your drives today, and to also help you reimagine what your solicitation calendar might look like in a world that is less reliant on pledge.

  1. Mind the Gaps: Take a hard look at your calendar to identify specific weeks or months where there are no occurrences of fundraising activity. These gaps between campaigns represent an opportunity for you to send additional appeals to your donors to raise more funds.

    By filling these gaps with some type of solicitation, you are providing donors with another chance to make a gift. For those donors have already given to a recent campaign, you can choose to suppress them from these additive appeals if you have concerns about over soliciting. Though, data has shown that the donors who gave most recently are most likely to give again. And, with a solid offer in place, they will indeed give again. Speaking of which…

  2. Make a Strong Offer: One example of a strong, standalone offer is a Matching Gift Challenge. This offer does not need the support of an on-air drive to be successful. There are many other successful offers too, some of which incorporate proven techniques like featuring a specific goal or deadline. Allegiance Fundraising can certainly help you brainstorm to develop a compelling offer that’s the right fit for your station and your donors.

  3. Get Creative with Reminders: When it comes to a station’s typical direct mail fundraising campaign, we generally send follow-up letters two weeks after we drop the initial appeal. We like to keep this window tight because these campaigns are specifically centered around your on-air drives.

    When you begin to send appeals that are not tied to a specific on-air drive, you can look at expanding the time frame between your first drop of mail and the follow-up. A four-week window allows you to suppress first hit responders and allows you think of the follow-up as more of an independent package, with more tailored language and different specifications, formats, and creative designs.

  4. Let Your Donors Shine: Stewardship is a critical component to any successful fundraising program. You can make use of “the gaps” between your on-air campaigns to send out thoughtful stewardship appeals, like newsletters featuring donor spotlights, or donor appreciation greeting cards, anniversary packages, and more. These tactics let your supporters know that you appreciate them, and they do well to create a sense of good will in advance of your next appeal. What’s more, these stewardship pieces can also serve as a vehicle for fundraising by incorporating a soft ask and reply device.

    If you would like to learn more about some of the new strategies described here, please feel free to contact us today!

    About the Author:
    Leanne Barkley
    Account Manager, Agency Services

    My role is to work closely with our clients to create and execute successful fundraising campaigns. Some of my responsibilities include developing annual budgets, providing creative and strategic recommendations, analyzing campaign results reports, and ensuring that my clients have everything they need to maximize their program’s fundraising potential.

    Years of experience in the industry


    What excites you about your work at AFG?

    Our clients are the best! I feel incredibly lucky to work with several outstanding organizations across that country that have a very real and important impact in their local communities.

    What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

    Spending time with my family outdoors – we love kayaking, going on hikes, doing yard work (admittedly, I might be the only one who likes the yard work), camping, etc. Just get me out in the fresh air and I’m happy.

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