Onair fundraising for community radio: CBAA Conference

Fundraising is the revenue cornerstone for most community broadcasting stations, and at this year’s virtual CBAA Conference one of the major sessions was Your on-air fundraising appeal playbook – strategy & tactics.

Presented by Joshua Crowther and Jason Parker from Dunham & Company a company that specialises in fundraising and helping other organisation to fundraise, Andrew Morris (CBAA) and Dwayne Jeffries (Hope Media) the workshop concentrated on how to get onair presenters and backup teams members to get engaged with their audience, and to therefore run a successful onair fundraiser.

A station’s on-air fundraising drive is a key part of the fundraising process, and during this session the speakers took a look how to ask for money on the air, the top reasons people don’t give, what makes a successful pitch, things to avoid during the drive and how to format breaks for maximum fundraising success.

Joshua says that stations need to think about what they are doing when they are asking people for money. “What is it that they are giving to?…they are giving to a trusted relationship.”

Good fundraisers are all about relationships, and stations already have a good relationship with their audience.

One of the biggest shifts in the focus of fundraising is to bring the listener in as ‘the problem solver’ for the station, as it is no longer about what the station can do for the listener, but what they can do for the station.

Why do supporters donate to stations? It can depend on how engaged the station is with the community and its listeners.

Is the listener the focus of the station and is the programming relevant? If it is then, Dwayne says, “The audience member…feel like they are a part of something that has value, that is bringing change to the town, is adding value to the community.

”We have to let the listener know that they are the focus of the radio station, not the station being fascinated with itself. Then, if we are getting that message across well, our listener will sign up as a it matters to them.

“If you’re looking for financial support from your members, your donors, they better already know that you and they are doing something awesome together.”

In order for the fundraising drive to be successful, it shouldn’t be the start of a relationship, but part of an ongoing big picture.

Worldwide studies have shown that every year a donor is retained, their lifetime value more than doubles.

The panel offered some fundamentals for weeklong appeals.

  • Plan from at least four months out from the event
  • Set a goal, or essential need, for new or renewed subscribers or a financial goal
  • Communicate to your supporters and your team those goals
  • Divide the target up into broadcast hours based on historical data to give presenters an idea of where they need to be
  • Have your team rehearse what they are going to do before they go before a live so they can get comfortable asking for money
  • Use social media channels to alert your listeners to the upcoming drive
  • Use your listeners to tell other listeners why they love the radio station using voice drops and vox pops
  • Understand that the number one reason that they give is to keep the station on air

Listeners need to know where the finish line is, and how close it is so they “know how we can win”.

When stations finally turn on the mic, what techniques should they use, and how do the breaks work.

  • Reset out of the song
  • Tell them why you need their support via listeners or presenters
    • From feed back
    • To support the services you provide to the community
    • For the programs that they are a part of
  • Close the deal and recap how they can be a part of the solution
    • Be confident
    • Give them an amount to think about ($5, $10, $50 or any other amount)
    • Give them the website or phone number so that they can join other supporters who have already given to your appeal
    • Do it right now, don’t wait until later

For presenters, have fun and take the time to give this the importance it requires.

An emerging trend during the covid pandmic, according to radioinfo sources, has been the level of support that listeners have given to community stations this year during radiothons and fundraising campaigns, because they have realised the importance of local community stations after increased listening during lockdowns.




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