[JPL] Fundraisers - Host Or Music?

Shaunna Morrison Machosky morrison at wduq.org
Mon Aug 14 11:32:50 EDT 2006

Pledge - related stuff, in two parts -- ***skip this if you're not 
interested in a bunch of fundraising minutiae ***

Some things that have worked here at DUQ, then some about automation...

Unfortunately, you never know what is going to make people call or 
pledge online.  As many fellow programmers here can attest, you can 
be sounding absolutely great one day with a lot of pledges coming in, 
and sounding the same or better the following day but receiving half 
as many calls.

Here at DUQ, jazz listeners pledge during Morning Edition and NPR 
newsmag listeners pledge during jazz -- not just during when they are 
listening. (please note that I'm coming from a station that has over 
100 hours of jazz a week, the rest NPR newsmags and other programming)

No matter how many pledges are coming in, you have to sound 
consistent with your messages, and not sound like you're dead tired 
with two days left to go in a two week drive.

A point that Jae made in an earlier post is a good one -- *ask for 
higher dollar amounts*.  That has worked really well here at DUQ. 
Our average gift is around $100.  "Thank You Gift" levels start at 
$75 (coffee mugs) -- single cd's are always at $100 -- 2 cd sets at 
$150 -- boxed sets higher.

Here are some additional things that have worked well here:

- stress credit card payments (saves paper and postage, no pledge reminders)

- setting up 'installment plans' (listeners can pay for their $100 
pledge $10 a month instead of a lump sum -- it's probably the 
smallest monthly bill they have)

- setting up 'sustaining memberships' (listeners specify a dollar 
amount to be charged to their credit card every month -- this 
continues until they tell us to stop -- again, no pledge reminders, 
and their membership never expires)

- stress your station's mission and service to the community -- not 
just how great your show is (even though we all know jazz is the best 
part of the day)

- state your goals, overall for the drive and/or any goal you have 
for a particular program

- if you give away a whole lot of different cd's, cut them back to 
just a few, make them available every day throughout the drive (not 
giving away a special cd on 'one night only') and mention them 
throughout the day, not just during jazz programming

- *pre-recorded spots* make you sound good.  When you have 4 minutes 
to pitch, it's really nice to make a couple of very clear points, 
play a spot, then come out of it sounding fresh and on-message.

- here at DUQ, we have a bunch of prerecorded things that can also be 
programmed in if we have to automate a shift:

  "process spots" (spots that tell listeners how to use their credit 
card to set up an installment plan, how a sustaining membership 
works, etc)

"premium spots" (kind of "infomercials" -- a jazz host tells a story 
about one of the cd's we are using as a 'thank you gift', or we'll 
have a spot describing a coffee mug)  This has worked out well -- we 
can pitch music gifts during non-jazz programming (and our news 
people don't have to describe the cd -- just how to get it).  Whoever 
is pitching doesn't have to figure out every time they go on just how 
to describe a mug that they are tired of seeing.

We also have listener testimonials, spots stressing the importance of 
membership, program-specific spots from the program hosts, etc.

*** About automation: ***

Automation is great so you don't have to lose the personality that is 
such a part of your programming.  People definitely listen for the 
music, but listeners call and say, "Oh, I love (**host**), and the 
music is great, too."  Both are important.

With automation, the host is there.  Nothing ever totally replaces 
the energy a host and other pitchers have when on live, but 
automation with their presence is so much better than doing nothing. 
Listeners still respond.

- We've been able to automate the evening shift when our host has to 
MC an event, rather than totally replace him with someone else.  All 
the music is programmed in, the breaks are voice-tracked by him, 
pledge breaks are voice-tracked by him.  Pre-recorded pledge spots 
are added in. It sounds better when we have someone else there live 
to do a couple of extra pitches -- sounds active, especially when 
pledges begin coming in.  The live person will say, "I'm here tonight 
with (***host**), then give a short pitch, state the overall goal for 
the night, etc.

- Two hours in the afternoon are always automated as such as well.

I'd love to hear what others are doing for their drives (on-list or 
off).  Any great ideas that have worked for your station?


Shaunna Morrison Machosky
Music Director
WDUQ 90.5 FM

>Both of course...to a degree.....I thought about this a while ago 
>and some recent off JPL emails made me think about this 
>again.....During the fundraisers it's pretty much protocol for none 
>of the announcers to get off. However, the Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Fest 
>here happened to fall right smack in the middle of a couple of our 
>fundraisers. I am the MC for the fest and the station considers it 
>important enough to let me have off to do the MC duties because it 
>greatly benefits the station. Before we set up our automation system 
>I had a sub for 13 years sit in for me when I was out. Now if so, I 
>would automate. That's an interesting bit of technological trickery 
>in itself - automating a fundraising show. One of the times during 
>the festival he sat in for me during the fundraiser. He did so 
>poorly that he said he never wanted to do it again - less then $300 
>each evening. Now I will add that he is our folk music host and a 
>seasoned fundraiser (also part time jazz host) on Sunday
>  evenings and has been for 15 years so he's no stranger to our audience.
>   My questions......I'm curious to know what others think about 
>this....during the fundraisers do you think listeners pledging more 
>for the host or music? I think about some of the programmers on this 
>list......and think what if Eric, Bobby, Linda, Tom, 
>John....etc....had some subs for their fundraisers - what would the 
>result be? Have any of you experienced this? What were the results? 
>I see what many are playing and in many cases it's not that 
>different and it's interesting how varied the results can be during 
>the fundraisers. Just curious........
>   Jae Sinnett

************* from an earlier message from Jae **********************

Basic marketing tells us that folk have to hear something at least 
three times before folk react - remember that headache medicine 
commercial? I think it's called "Heads On" or something like that. 
They say it three times. The other part and most importantly for us 
during the drives.......is we get what we ask for. Too often this is 
underestimated during the drives. There's a lot of truth in this. 
That was the first change I made during my air time. I mentioned this 
to someone and they said....."well Jae, that's good but you'll lose 
in your numbers of folk pledging." I focused on our "mid" level 
pledge amount which is $120. I use that dollar amount as my "base" 
now so over the past six years my average pledge dollar amount for my 
show is  $125. The highest of any show we air. The other part is the 
credit card incentive......

   I constantly ask for the credit card and my credit card pledges are 
at 98 percent. Again, the highest of any program. Plus, it's instant 
money....if the credit card goes through of course. I also give them 
reasons for using the credit card like better thank you gifts or that 
it cuts down on "us" having to send them thank you reminders and 
monthly billing statements.

************* from an earlier message from Tom *********************

Jae makes some valid points and every market is different and their is
not "a one size fits all" for us in Jazz Radio. I suggest that when you
share your experiences and success stories as well as learning
experiences that you include the power of your station and if PUBLIC
what your are Fund Drive GOALS. These two items help put things in
perspective very quickly.
WTEB-FM 100,000 Watts with $500,000.00 in Fund Drive Goals per year
broken down into two $250,000 drives in the Spring and Fall. *


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