Friday, March 19, 2010

Why I Won't Give NPR Any Money During The Pledge Drive

That's not to say I don't support my local NPR station. KJZZ just got $575 from selling my car at auction last month, far more than I could give them in cash. But a particular tactic they are now using during their pledge drives drives me nuts.

Long term friends have possibly realized that about the one thing you can do to me that will make me dig in my heels in anger and rebelliousness is attempt to manipulate me. If you ask me directly for a favor, particularly if I'm not expecting it, I'll say yes. Even if it is hugely inconvenient, I will do it. Give me bad news directly and I won't explode. Try to set up a situation, ramble, hint, spare my feelings and you will have irritated me so much that I will snap. Just be honest; things usually go much easier.

NPR's current strategy to get people to give is challenge grants. The staff will attempt to get people to call in and give because so and so has issued "a challenge grant" in some sum, and they claim that they won't get the money unless the other listeners call in and give. It's been going on a while,and I always thought, "Really, NPR? People won't give you the money unless other people give you more? Maybe you should replace your fundraising staff because they seem to be doing a shit job. If you can get 10 people to give you $50 dollars, that's better than having one promise they will give you $500 with strings attached." And back in Cleveland the numbers would be so huge and beyond the community's ability to raise, it was pathetic listening to the hosts banter and try to exort people to call in.

However, this last week KJZZ really took the cake. They did challenge upon challenge, but one morning near the end of the week they played one of the radio spots profiling a woman and her husband who were set to give KJZZ a large sum of money when KJZZ asked them if they'd mind doing it as a challenge grant. Apparently KJZZ promised them that if they couldn't match the donation they wouldn't have to make it, but as the woman said, "it's not like we wouldn't donate anyway, no matter what."

So it's not even a challenge with anything on the line! It's Makeout/Fakeout!

Back when I was in college radio we did a yearly telethon and the staff who trained us always said, "Be honest, be direct, and be specific." NPR pledge drives totally fail at that. I personally need Nina Totenberg to cover the Court for me, so I try to give when I can, but never during a pledge drive.


Genevieve said...

Cleveland's pledge drives were always sad because they would give their hourly goal and rarely make it.

The 'we won't get the match unless we get x' must not be too rare in fundraising because I feel like I've heard it before, but I have to say that I much prefer the dollar for dollar match until a certain amount.

Our current station does drawings for travel gifts, and sadly I did not win the trip to Paris, but that said I don't think the chance to win a trip is the deciding factor on whether or not anyone pledges.

See you tomorrow!!!

LOJO said...

my husband calls is the un-listener drive. That challenge grant kills me.

I worked for a company that gave to NPR and I asked the owner once about it- he told me they gave that money with no strings attached. He had no idea about the challenge grant concept at all.