Top 5 Tactics of a Successful Public Radio Pledge Drive.

1. Carrot & Stick

Carrot: “If you pledge right now, an anonymous donor will match & double your pledge!”

Stick: “If we don’t meet our quota, we’ll have to (offer to) give the matching funds back.”

Not long ago, they used to say they’d actually have to give the funds back. Maybe their legal department made them change that.

2. The Unreachable Goal

This technique elicits both the underdog will to triumph against adversity & the crippling fear that you’ll lose NPR & your beloved [favorite radio show here].

“Today we must raise $250K to stay on the air. So far we have raised $21K.”

Then at the end of the day – a miracle! They magically cover the difference with donations they already had but didn’t disclose.

“We did it! $250K reached!”

(thanks to $195K in pre-existing, non-call-in donations)

3. Guilt & Shame

With this psychological tactic, they play recorded messages from people who’ve listened 6 hours a day for 40 years and never supported public radio…. until TODAY, when they realized the error of their ways. (The error of your ways, hint hint.)

4. Prizes!

Tote bags! Cook books! Stickers for your Volvo Subaru Prius!

5. Promises with Underlying Threats (or vice versa)

“If we raise enough money, we’ll stop having 4 pledge drives a year and only have 1!”

(If we fail, we’ll need to have at least 17 pledge drives a year to make up the difference.)


Disclaimer: I am a lifelong support of public radio. Financially and emotionally. These are simply my learned observations as a long-time listener. Shout out to Terry Gross – Love ya & looking forward to an interview with you one day!

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard is a software engineer and fitness lover. Once upon a time, exercise was a chore she did to chase the elusive "skinny". Somewhere along the way, it morphed into a source of daily joy, motivation, and strength. Find her on a bike, on a hike, in a skort, or near a usb port. Chances are, she's wearing a gadget and a smile.

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