the $$ and sense

With the end of the spring pledge drive a bit more than a week in the past, we’re doing the fun things of sending thank you letters, reminding people of their pledges, and ordering the tote bags and tumblers.  And for me, it’s a time of looking over the lists of people who gave during this effort and being, as usual, totally blown away by the generosity and good will.

I always like to check out the first time givers, because that’s such an important part of any pledge drive (those of you who’ve given before, we know where to find you!).  I wonder about the stories behind the first time gifts of $500 – that’s a pretty significant first investment.  Is that somebody who moved to town and was so relieved to find a solid public radio station and kept giving at the level they were giving in their last city?  Is it someone who turned to public radio during the last year for some balanced information about the economy? Is it someone who just got tired of the noise on commercial radio and found a valuable respite in the sound and story that make public radio what it is?  Something happened to make someone who’s never given before step up at the $500 level.  I’ve been known to call donors to ask about their story.  The NIPR staff really cares about what motivated them, because we want to keep doing it.  Maybe do more of it.

I’m also interested in people who give at one level for a long time and then jump up a couple notches.  Maybe their financial world just got better (has that happened to anyone lately?) and we’re on their list of things worth supporting.  Maybe they’ve cut down on the number of causes they are supporting and giving all they can to those that are most important (we love it when we fall into that category – most important causes).  Or maybe they just started thinking about how much they listen and recognized that we were being undervalued.

We had a couple of people who made gifts of odd amounts and then let us know that they were pledging a percentage of their total income.  That’s a concept that has pretty powerful meaning to a lot of us, and I’m totally humbled that someone would make that kind of commitment to public radio in our community.

And then, of course, there are givers who drop off the donor lists or significantly decrease their giving.  It’s harder to ask about those stories, but we do, sometimes.  Often people volunteer, when they make their gift, that things are just tough this year and that their gift doesn’t reflect how important the station is to them.  We’re grateful when people are that up front with us, because otherwise, we wonder if they’re unhappy with us.

This year, there are some people who didn’t give because they are unhappy with us, and I understand that.  Not giving makes it all worse for us, but I do understand the thought process.

So, there’s much to think about and analyze at the end of the drive.  I’m really grateful for David Hunter, our membership manager, who delights (I’m serious) in looking at the drive from every which way to see how we can better

David Hunter, Membership Mgr (and drive analyst!)

serve our community next time.  Knowing what people responded to, why they gave what they gave when they gave, helps us know how to get this business done quickly and efficiently each drive and to make the process valuable to us all, the station, the listeners, the community.

I love it when somebody talks about how they actually enjoy pledge drive time (Katie Pruitt, spokesperson extraordinaire for the pledge drive crazies, you rock.) but I also appreciate when folks give  suggestions about how it could be better. 

We are, as we are reminded so powerfully during pledge drive time, in this together. 

Thanks for listening and for giving,

Joan

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