Less Means More for Pledge Drive

It was close to midnight last Saturday, and Jeanine insisted that I turn on the radio – it’s always set to WFPK. We’d been talking about the pledge drive, because I was interested to see if the Public Radio Partnership strategy would work. I’d been listening all week, and it seemed to me that while I was hearing more conversation from James Bickers in the morning, it wasn’t as pervasive as it had been in previous drives. I had not been tempted to turn on commercial radio, as had been the case in drives past.

The strategy was to cut back on the length of the drive, and hope that by some inverse logic, pledgers would be motivated to donate more money in a shorter amount of time. PRP president Donovan Reynolds took a risk — if the drive didn’t measure up, he’d be pressured to do it the old way next time.

So Jeanine had me listening to the radio Saturday because the tone of the drive had motivated her to give — I soon heard our name announced on the air. It apparently affected some other folks that way. Here’s the note the Reynolds sent to the PRP board the day after the drive ended:

PRP has just completed the most successful membership campaign in its history. We raised $295,476 last week — $95,000 over goal, and a 72% increase over last year’s spring drive.

And remember, this was a drive that was 22% shorter than our usual campaign. Our total for the entire spring campaign is now $397,599 and the money is still coming in.

I think we can safely conclude that the idea of a shorter drive has found public favor. Our other incentives, I believe, were also factors in our success. The “best of” station CDs were very popular, and the European vacation grand prize also produced quite a bit of excitement.

I am immensely proud of the PRP staff who worked so hard and sounded so upbeat during this drive. There’s a positive energy in this place now and it manifested itself on the air.

Nearly 1700 of our members took the time to fill out our on-line survey. We’ll be getting some very good feedback.

I believe this drive was a turning point for PRP. We’re ready to roll!

Those who pledged were asked to fill out a survey with questions about how to use technology to improve the radio stations. Congrats to Reynolds for taking a risk and pushing for the change.