by Jeremiah Beck, Vice President and General Manager of ShareMedia Services
The same challenges that exist for a regular radio show – distractions and competition – are the main obstacles to overcome with fundraising on Christian radio, but they are then coupled with a poor value proposition and a failure to effectively communicate the support model throughout the year.
I think we need to be realistic about the level of access, engagement, and exclusive content we provide our monthly donors. For $8 a month, I have access to the Netflix entertainment library. For $100 a year I have Amazon Prime, giving me their audio and video inventory, as well as the actual Prime benefits. Despite the value, I still debate renewing each of these because I have a family budget. However, we are asking listeners to give $30 or $40/mo. and they have no enhanced experience in any way, despite their sacrifice. It is costing them much more, for far less, and then we wonder why our cancellation rates are as high as they are?
I am aware that we are a ministry, and the others are businesses, yet fewer and fewer consumers of media are drawing a distinction between us and them. They expect more, right or wrong. I’m not drawing a moral distinction, just sharing what the research tells us. We have access and technology to provide them with more … and we often don’t. The idea that “you’ll simply feel good knowing you gave” isn’t going to sustain the donor, especially if you’re telling them “when you hear a story of a changed life, you can know God used you to do that” and then never playing stories of changed lives outside of a fundraiser. If the model fails, that’s on us as an industry.
Finally, if you want to reach your audience, and give yourself the best chance to reach your financial needs, then you should be creatively crediting them for the on-air ministry and community impact that is happening throughout the year.
It’s still incredibly surprising to me how many stations fail to share their appreciation in an ongoing way, fail to explain to their new cume how their ministry, and fail to provide consistent, tangible proof of ministry outside of their Sharathons.
Therefore, I ask the question: are stations struggling to get funding because the marketplace is changing or they have a poor fundraising strategy, or is it because they are actually not doing ministry in the community and giving their audience what they actually want and expect on the air every day? That question isn’t asked by management nearly enough.
What is the best fundraising advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Best fundraising advice: don’t be afraid to fail, repeatedly. You can do everything right and it still may not work. Then you get a new quarter hour and can start over. Treat your brain and heart like a white board and have a short memory!
“Swing for the fences.” – Bill Scott.
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