Idea Engine: Harnessing "Rage Donations"

The prolific blogger Jeff Brooks of Future Fundraising Now published a post this week about ‘rage donations,’ the recent trend in giving where donors express their outrage by giving to a non-profit whose mission matches their values and even defies a politician whose motives are anathema to them.

That may or may not be the reason behind recent increases in giving to some public broadcasting stations.  However, the recent spike in advocacy through the Protect My Public Media site may be a combination of any number emotions felt by public media constituents.

In terms of storytelling, public media doesn’t to do much to make the case.  The very existence of our services, and the public’s concern about losing them or seeing them diminish, are enough to drive people into taking an action.  Sometimes it takes the form of political advocacy, and sometimes activism comes in the form of donations.

We’ve seen emotions run high a number of times when commercial classical music services around America were in danger of shutting down.  The public came to the rescue when stations such as WETA, WCRB, and WQXR switched to listener-supported models.

But that is a different animal than recent ‘rage donations’ to groups such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, which received avalanches in donations in response to the ascendancy of the current administration.

There may be similarities in how we then curate the relationship after the initial donation.  On a practical level, non-profits must be ready to receive, steward, and renew such donors, because the real work of building relationships begins when the rage or ‘saving of the station’ subsides.   We must learn more about the donor, determine what it is that makes her tick, and then provide convincing arguments about why her continued support is critical.

The Wired Impact article has ten tips for turning anger into action including:

Prepare Key Messages

Be Ready to Tell People How to Help

Capture Information

Create a Donor Retention Plan

Of course, there are many ways that individuals can express their support for their beloved local public media outlets without having to make ‘rage donations.’  They can volunteer, attend events, and express their support for public media at town hall meetings.

CDP curates a series of station-branded communications that can be deployed on your station’s behalf with language developed by Association for Public Television Stations (APTS) that direct constituents to the Protect My Public Media site.  There, the individual will find options for how they might take action on behalf of public media to protect federal funding.

If you are interested in taking part in that project, contact us.