November 17, 2020
Discipline: Membership

2020 has certainly been a year of challenges and unpredictability. We can’t predict the precise turns that year-end fundraising may take, but we can focus on a few things to do really well. Then, if challenges arise in the final weeks of 2020, we’ll be better prepared to pivot. . Here’s what you can focus on knocking out of the park:

Safety First

COVID numbers are rising sharply, and lockdowns and restrictions similar to what we experienced in the spring are beginning to happen state by state. It’s important to put the safety of your team first and expect you will be doing and on-air fundraising remotely if you aren’t planning for that already. Getting distance logistics in place now will position you to take on any additional fundraising challenges that arise in the new year.

Use Unifying Messages 

Your public service – be that news or music – is as important as it has ever been to your listeners. As audiences have hunkered down at home or continued essential work during this time, public media has provided essential information and comfort. Yes, listening patterns have shifted. But the connection is strong. Stay donor-centered in your messaging, and focus on what they have made possible. We’ve crafted some scripts with the message, “we’re all in this together” to help you get started and frame your pitches.

Just Keep Fundraising

It’s important to raise as much as you can during this period. This isn’t a good time to do “hit and quit” campaigns. Instead, be open to the possibility that you might exceed your goal, which did happen to many stations in the fall! There is likely to be a“2020 hangover” in which the first few months of 2021 don’t look much different than 2020, and fundraising will be challenging. Create every opportunity you can to connect with new donors, bring in renewals, and upgrade sustainers. Listening is increasing and the importance listeners place on your programming is very high.

Don’t Shy Away From Email

Send solicitation emails. But also make sure to send cultivation messages and focus on gaining new subscribers as part of your plan too. Newsletters, programming highlights, and virtual event invites are good ways to build connections and relationships that lead to support. Keep an eye on your unsubscribe rates if you’re worried about sending too much email. If your unsubscribe rates are stable and you’re raising funds, you have room to send more email.

Don’t Ask for Less

While many Americans are struggling financially, many are doing well and want to give more at year-end. A recent study by the Nonprofit Alliance and RKD Group found that 80% of donors plan to give the same or more than they did in December of 2019. Only 20% said they would be giving less.

Prioritize Mid-Level and Major Donors

Keep focused on these groups of donors for renewals and asks. Make your asks for donor-advised-fund contributions before the early December cutoff for 2020 distributions.

While there are still so many things we can’t predict about fundraising at year-end and into 2021, we can count on this: We have the experience to handle these challenges, and our listeners and donors want their public media station to succeed.

For more details about 2020 year-end fundraising and to hear from the WBEZ membership team about their year-end fundraising plans, check out our 2020 year-end fundraising resource page.