Mobile Pledging is the best way for listeners to make donations on radio

Many public broadcasting stations depend on contributions from generous listeners to continue offering high-quality programming from NPR and other nonprofit outlets. As radio stations move into a more digital sphere, you can increase donations through mobile fundraising. This technology makes it easier than ever before for listeners to support your station in a matter of seconds.


2010 Text to Give on Radio

During a three day pledge-athon NPR Cincinnati raised 10,000 with $10 Text to Give from 1000 listeners.

  • $10 average gift
  • 59% pledge fulfillment

If this campaign was promoted today with mobile pledging NPR would raise $65,000.


2014 Mobile Pledging on Radio

The Heat and Warmth Fund Radiothon encourages listeners to text “THAW” to 41444 to make a donation.

  • $65 Average Gift
  • 84% Pledge Fulfillment
  • $250 Highest Donation

NPR could increase funding by 26 percent with listener donations

In a 2013 article for Current.org, John Sutton wrote that the future of public broadcasting could be structured so that NPR collects donations from listeners and passes grants along to local stations that use its programming. While this may seem far off, the rapid growth of digital listening has opened new avenues of fundraising – including mobile giving.

Consider the following figures from NPR: In fall of 2011, the total number of weekly public radio listeners for all stations was 37.6 million. In this same time, 2.7 million people donated $360 million to public radio. This means all stations earned $9.57 per weekly listener. NPR specifically raised $215 million.

However, there is the potential to boost these funds even further if NPR asked for donations directly from listeners. Many people listen to NPR podcasts from their mobile devices, which lends itself to quick donations. This technology gives stations of all sizes a way to raise contributions in a more cost-effective way.

In the scenario that Sutton proposes, direct fundraising from NPR would cause contributions to rise to $215 million for this outlet alone, but it would lead to fewer donations for local public stations. However, the increase to NPR fundraising would be significant enough to cause total radio donations to jump 26 percent. NPR could then support its affiliates by giving them access to programming for free, saving local stations $75 million per year.

Sutton believes this situation is possible because NPR is the most powerful player in the public radio world, and he cited the example of Apple revolutionizing the record industry. In addition, the continued expansion of digital listening is going to continue disrupting the industry, highlighting the need to adopt new technology for fundraising. Mobile Pledging could be the way to significantly increase revenue.


What local radio stations can do to capture mobile donations

The key to maximizing any fundraising campaign is maintaining a solid knowledge of your donor demographics. What motivates your target audience to give? What messages stick with them? How do they want to contribute? You need to have this information to make lasting connections with your listeners, nPENGAGE says. For example, donors across different generations have varying giving patterns.

Smart Data Records enables you to verify mobile numbers that you already have in your database and append wealth indicators, which helps you send segmented messages and strategically ask for donations from high income supporters.

Mobile messaging to increase participation on radio

NGEN has built a Mobile Subscription list of 39,546 listeners who receive regular text message updates.

  • 39,546 mobile subscribers
  • Hundreds of thousands of messages sent to engage listeners

Increasing fundraising revenue ensures public broadcasting stations can continue providing diverse content for listeners around the country for years to come. As listeners keep embracing smartphones, mobile pledging is the most effective way to engage with potential contributors and maintain a steady stream of funding.

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