WNMU-FM Streamlines Logistics to Grow Sustainer Program

Date Published

An NPR affiliate licensed to Northern Michigan University, Marquette, WNMU Public Radio 90 serves the Upper Peninsula with a mix of classical, jazz and news programming.

Managing a sustainer program at a small station with not a single full-time staff dedicated to membership can be challenging, especially when the available tools aren’t up to the job. Fortunately, WNMU, Public Radio 90 has the right tools, and they’re working to grow its sustainer program efficiently and effectively.


Station Manager/Development Director, Evelyn Massaro has led WNMU Public Radio 90 since 2002. Prior to acquiring Allegiance, the challenges in managing a sustainer program were daunting and included reliance on one system to process payments, another system to import files, manual proofing and error correction, staying on top of countless logistical details, and numerous opportunities to get it wrong. According to Evelyn, “People do not give you a second chance to mess up their bank account. And you will never get them back as sustainers if you do.”

WNMU Acquires Allegiance Fundraising

The level of detail and the staff time involved for in-house, manual electronic fund transfer processing, management and oversight was mind-boggling, “When we acquired Allegiance Fundraising, we were hungry for the streamlined workflow that it provided”, Massaro remembers. “Thanks to Allegiance and its integration with SAGE for PCI compliant credit-card processing, we now spend only a few hours a month processing sustainer transactions. And whether you have 100 or 1,000 sustainers, it is the same workload. And Allegiance makes sure we’re not missing anyone or anything.

Added Benefits

WNMU sustainer vs. non-sustainer average gift

Although some think that sustainers don’t want to be bothered with regular station communications, Evelyn says that the opposite is true, “When sustainer anniversary letters go out, we include a survey asking how we should communicate with them – and 71% indicate they want mail, phone calls, emails, and information about extra opportunities to give. These are valuable donors. Evelyn goes on to say, “Research has shown that gift giving releases endorphins, and sustainers get to feel good about their gifts every month when the see their bank or credit card statement.”

At WNMU when compared to non-sustaining members, sustaining members account for a:

  • 56% higher renewal amount
  • 115% higher upgrade amount
  • 48% higher current giving level

Outstanding Results

WNMU Sustainers Revenue with Allegiance SoftwareThe growth of the sustainer program over time, as well as the stellar results in increasing average gift levels and higher renewal amounts, have encouraged WNMU to extend its efforts to promote and convert members to the sustainer program.

When sustainers use credit cards rather than banks for their payments, WNMU is pro-active in getting updated credit card expiration information. They call, email and write. If the information is not forthcoming, before the 4th contact WNMU changes the payment method from sustainer to monthly billing and sends a pledge reminder notice. Evelyn says that this effort usually generates a call with updated credit card information.

WNMU sustainer growth chartEvelyn notes that “Most donor management systems are not nearly as evolved as Allegiance when it comes to managing sustainer programs.” And with a personal goal to get 100% of her members to become sustainers she says,

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