January 29, 2024


The best part of public radio is the way that so many people come together to make it possible- from listeners, donors and business sponsors, to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, universities and licensees. This is also true internally at stations; Each department plays a very important role- corporate support and membership help pay for programming and journalists’ salaries, and in turn providing high quality news content and music programming brings in donors and business sponsors. 

Despite this well-developed cyclical relationship at public radio stations, programming often works separately from news, and membership separate from corporate support. Some of these “silos” are in place for good reason (corporate support or big donors shouldn’t influence/ restrict news content), but stations can benefit from “tearing down” the silos that exist between departments. Programming and corporate support can work together for sponsorships of special programs and other content, traffic control and corporate support can communicate better with one another to ensure sponsors’ spots air at the best possible time, and perhaps the greatest opportunity is collaboration between membership and corporate support. Here are some ways stations in the Kentucky Public Radio Network are breaking down silos between membership and corporate support to increase revenue:

Weekly Meetings Between Membership and Corporate Support

At Louisville Public Media, the corporate support and membership teams meet weekly for prospect insights. Corporate support shares sponsorship prospects to see if membership has any information or insight on business owners, higher level executives, or donors that might have sway with the prospect or ideas for how to approach them about sponsorship. Even if membership doesn’t have insight at that moment, they now know who corporate support is looking at, and can keep their ears and eyes open for other information that may be helpful before the next meeting. This type of planning, intentional communication, and collaboration keeps both departments on the same page and creates a synergy that can benefit the station as a whole.

Sharing Referrals

Referrals from membership to corporate support are another way the two departments can work together to increase revenue. At WKMS in Murray, KY, if membership notices that a person is making a donation from their business, they share that info with corporate support who can then further the relationship to see if there’s potential for an increase in donation to the station through underwriting. And the business gets the added benefit of on-air recognition.

On the flip side, corporate support helps membership identify potential donors and major gifts by providing names of higher level executives, business owners, and other employees at businesses that are sponsoring the station.

In addition to working together to grow revenue for the station, here are some other fun ways that membership and corporate support can collaborate to create a unified brand:

Valentine’s Day (and Other Holiday-Themed) Postcards

Postcards are an inexpensive and fun soft touch for donors and sponsors. What better way to let them know you love and appreciate them than sending a cute Valentine’s Day postcard? NPR has some cute valentines or stations can get creative and make their own.

Here’s this year’s valentine that WKMS will send to donors and sponsors.

The fun doesn’t have to stop with valentines. Here are other ideas for postcards throughout the year: Happy New Year in January, donor appreciation week in August (sponsors are donors too!), Thanksgiving “thankful for you” card in November, a postcard to celebrate the station’s anniversary, and so on.

Year-End List

At the end of every year, membership and corporate support create a list of things that the station was able to accomplish that year because of support from donors and sponsors. This list can include special events, programs, partnerships, awards, news projects, and more, as well as photos and imagery to add some visuals. 

Come up with a fun title and turn the list into a two-sided buckslip to include in end-of-year thank-you gifts and letters, tax letters, billing, or other communications.

Here’s an example of WKMS’s “23 Things Your Dollars Did in 2023”:


Hopefully these examples can inspire some meaningful and fun collaboration between departments and help to grow revenue at your station!