It’s October … which means it’s membership campaign time

Our Fall 2012 Coffee Mug

If you’re an avid public radio listener, October is one of those months out of the year when you can turn to just about any public radio station across the country and find the station on the air encouraging its listeners to support the station.

On-air fund raising campaigns have been a staple for public radio stations for more than 30 years and continue to be one of the most critical times of the year for stations to raise money to pay for the programs that listeners enjoy throughout the year.

The St. Louis Public Radio Fall On-Air Fund-Raising Campaign begins on Thursday, October 13 and runs through Friday, October 21.

The results and reliance on these on-air campaigns vary from station to station across the country. Some smaller stations rely almost entirely on on-air fund raising, while many larger stations, including St. Louis Public Radio, have developed a balance of support from on-air campaigns, direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, sustained memberships, and philanthropy to raise the needed funds to pay for the local and national programs.

Only about a third of our total support from individual contributors comes during our two on-air campaigns. What these campaigns do best for us, though, is to bring in thousands of new contributors to the station every year. It is far and away the most effective and efficient way for us to gain new supporters to the station.

Around three years ago, we made some changes in our strategy with our on-air drives to focus more on new donors and the results have been phenomenal! In 2008, 13,000 donors gave to the station and now more than 20,000 are active supporters of St. Louis Public Radio.

We are also giving our listeners a voice in talking about why they support the station. These testimonials help to tell the story of what listeners value about the station and are very effective in moving people to donate.

For the campaign that starts this week, we have some wonderful audio clips.

Sometimes the testimonials are extremely personal, as in the case of this story from Richard Rubin about his ailing wife’s love of classical music.

In other cases, the stories can be humorous and something that most listeners can relate to as in this story from Marc Mendolia.

And, other pieces, like this one from Karen Kalish and her new friend (and taxi driver) David Woods can be surprising.

And, in addition to these regional voices, we’ll also have our share of the friends from the national programs to add their voice to encourage you to support the station — THINK IRA GLASS.

We take great pride that St. Louis Public Radio is among only a few public radio stations in the country doing just two on-air membership campaigns each year.  Last year we were able to raise nearly $1.1 million in just 18 fund-raising days, making us among the most efficient in the country in raising money from our listeners.  Your support is essential and I hope that we can count on you again in the coming days.

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About Tim Eby

General Manager of St. Louis Public Radio.

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