Treating On-Air Fundraising as a Campaign III

“If you haven’t heard about our Sustainer program, you should check it out. That’s where we go into your bank account every month and take out money until you tell us to stop.”

That’s how an on-air host (who shall not be named) framed the station’s Sustainer option in an ad-lib that, like other ad-libs you may have heard on your station or elsewhere will happen if the staff is encouraged to do ‘riffundraising.’

Anyone who has worked with me or had a conversation about on-air fundraising knows that I am a big proponent of scripting. It’s not because I happen to like scripting; it’s because effective marketing requires a consistent messaging system.

That’s true of branding as well: if your Sustainer language is consistent throughout mail, digital, donation forms, spots, etc., then it should carry into live on-air pledge as well.

CDP is devoted to testing models and being a proponent of data-driven fundraising practices, which is how we have helped drive $103 million in NET value and more than 350,000 new donors to member stations.

Do we have data that suggests that scripted breaks perform better than unscripted? Not strictly speaking, but more and more TV stations are using carefully-crafted scripting around core programs, sustainers, and community impact. Those stations are reporting favorable results—a good example is the recent TV pledge hit Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like.

Measurement can be tricky, because direct response success often depends on incentives, concepts, content, presentation, and platform. There is, however, decades of research and practice in advertising and marketing that demonstrate success in cross-platform campaign promotion.

If your station has the resources to produce TV pledge breaks that contain consistent, scripted messaging, that will reinforce the big ideas behind your campaign.

Radio listening, being more habitual, provides us with a chance to build messaging during on-air drives over time that will provide the impetus for the donor to take an action when it is convenient for her.

If we provide a messaging ‘roadmap’ for pledge breaks and allow the talent to make up the rest, we miss the opportunity to concretize campaign messages using reach & frequency techniques. Don’t worry about repetition; if you remember the jingle, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” you can associate that in your mind with a specific campaign that a soft drink company did in the late 1960s. Reach and frequency.

If your station is incorporating cross-platform themes into your on-air fundraising, let us know how you are doing it so we can share examples with the CDP community.

Barry NelsonComment