So even though I am in a fairly rural area of Ohio, I have discovered that I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to being able to access public radio broadcast streams. There are two from Ohio universities, one from West Virginia and one from Northern Kentucky. Despite the mountains I can hear each of them fairly clearly since there are repeaters located within a few miles of my workplace.
I tell you this provide some context when I say I heard a fund raising approach I liked but can’t for the life of me figure out which station I heard it on. I have visited each station’s website and Facebook page and still don’t know whom to credit.
In any case, one of these intrepid stations announced that now that the summer had started, they would begin “One Shot Wednesday” fund drives. Instead of having a week long fund drive, they were just going to make appeals on Wednesdays throughout the summer.
I thought this was a great idea because many people will tune away for the week of a fund drive and come back when it is over. Having it once a week repeatedly introduces itself into a person’s habitual listening. Since the disruption is contained to a small period of time, people may tune away for a day, come back again and then be reminded the next Wednesday around.
The station can better retain their listeners and expose them more frequently to the message that the station needs their support before a person chooses to tune away. And who knows, people may stay with the station throughout the Wednesday since the appeal breaks are short relative to other fund drives.
I have been trying to think of what the performing arts organization version of this might look like. Attending performances is not part of most people’s daily routine so there is no week long fund drive people might seek to avoid.
Curtailing the curtain speech appeal might make many audience members happy, but what more palatable alternative do you replace it with?
I know the board of my organization enjoyed calling people up to ask them about how much they liked the past season. The effort was well received all around. It would be possible to insert an appeal at that time, but if done poorly it would probably be a negative experience for all involved.
You might try having board members or volunteers chat casually with people in the lobby before the show and introduce the idea of supporting the organization. There is more of an opportunity to monitor that the process is done well and give notes on improving in the future. The only problem might be if the lobby is too small or if most of the audience rushes in at the last moment leaving little opportunity to speak with them.
I think the real question at the base of all this is- what are we doing now that makes people uncomfortable and what can we do to make it less so. That is what the one radio station did. They took the week long fund drive that everyone groans about and parceled it up across the summer.
I have no idea how successful it is, but from the way they spoke, they have done this before. Once I find the station again, I will try to do some further investigation.
But what ideas do you have to break up the often awkward process of fundraising into something more digestible?