Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting stations overcome challenges to become pledge drive machines
In the past year, pledge has changed dramatically at Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting and its sister stations 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP. When Nancy Wood took the reins of the development department in August of 2015, station pledge drives were paper-driven operations requiring staff to juggle multiple incompatible platforms and create manual spreadsheets and dozens of work-arounds in attempt to track results and manage processing.
Today, thanks to Allegiance Fundraising solutions, both stations are pledge drive machines with integrated operations that give immediate and sophisticated reporting—and a far less taxed and exhausted member services team.
Just 18 months ago, station pledge drives were paper-driven, with volunteers in the studio filling out paper pledge forms. This also meant they were not PCI-compliant, as there was no way for volunteers to enter credit card pledges online. The newly appointed director of development, Nancy Wood, made improving pledge performance her top priority. To ensure PCI compliance, the stations began outsourcing all in-bound calls, and making use of the NPR Springboard platform for both web giving and those people who chose to make their gifts by phone. Nancy notes “I’m glad Springboard was there during our transition but it was not impressive and not a long-term solution. There was no flexibility to personalize our web pledge pages and it had only basic capabilities. We had no live updates, no accurate counts on numbers or dollars, and we had to rely on two separate systems to upload the data into our system. Thanking donors in a timely way was always an issue.”
Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Acquires Allegiance
Nancy went on to say, “Acquiring Allegiance gave us the ability to create mail, phone, email and web pledge campaigns with coded pledge pages to track results. We use the donation tracker both in the pledge studio and in master control. We have live updates of total dollars and total pledges as well as the ability to track challenges and how they are performing to stated goals.”
And, Nancy added, “Instead of the membership staff spending 10-12 hours a day during and immediately following the drive to get everything into the system, billed and acknowledged, we went to being caught up each day with virtually no extra hours at all!”
Phone pledges and online pledges feed into the same system. Credit cards are verified as they’re entered. On-air acknowledgments are immediate, and there are few duplicate accounts going into the system since staff can verify if the donor is new or if an account exists before moving the pledge into the system.
The membership staff has the ability to create and customize pledge pages for mail, email, and on-air campaigns anytime without involving engineering or web staff.
Instead of massive, manual spreadsheet tallies, all the data funnels into Allegiance and pledges from all sources can be tracked as part of the campaign.
Especially excited about the reporting features, Nancy says, “We actively utilize the campaign pages so we can track/monitor campaign results by effort, by day, or overall from the studio, the office, home or anywhere.”
Telemarketing – inbound or outbound – uses a scripted version of the public pledge page and everything is integrated and reconciled immediately in the database. There are no imports or downloads to manage and no duplicate account creation because each pledge/transaction is held in the same transaction bin as all other donations. Donations are tracked based on associated page and source code. Each pledge/donation is reviewed before it’s approved for integration into the database.
Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting is now experimenting to learn about traditional public radio listeners and new generation non-members by testing pledge pages in social media. The asks are lower and the language is geared toward a younger demographic.
Nancy notes, “These pledge pages are promoted solely on social media and since each page can have its own specific source code, the back end reporting is phenomenal!”
“Allegiance has already paid for itself and the Return on Investment in the coming years will prove over and over again that acquiring Allegiance is one of the best decisions we’ve made.”