I recently heard a PD-minded radio professional say about fundraising on the air; “It’s about sitting across the table with ‘her’ and having that cup of coffee.”
The idea I presume was to imagine myself sitting across from “her” (my friend/listener) in a coffee shop shooting the breeze. Catching up on life. Sharing stories about our kids, our husbands and how proverbially “busy” everybody always is. Since I AM the target demo of most Christian Radio station listeners (and givers) I have a very easy time doing that, and get to do it all the time when I am doing a midday or afternoon show. There are few things I enjoy more than doing life with “her.”
Sitting down with my friend across the table having coffee, and sharing life is good. It makes both of us feel connected. We feel cared for, heard, and we get a sense of community and women thrive in that setting.
But, when I walk into a radio station to help them raise their operating budget for the next 6 months or year, things change. Think about it. The conversation would dramatically change if when I was sitting across from her, it was no longer about “sharing life” but rather to ask her for her money. Right?
The conversation might look more like, “Hey Julie, I’m so glad we’re friends. I really value our friendship, and I hope you do too. I’m SO grateful that we get to come together like this, catch up, laugh and sometimes cry together. And because we are close, and we care about each other’s families, I’m going to ask you right now to help my family in our crucial financial need. It’s a need that’s real and that literally keeps our family going. I’d be so grateful for your support … and as friends that’s what we do! We support each other in our time of need. Right? Here’s the deal though…I need your involvement by this Friday. It’s very time sensitive. So Julie, can you help me right now?”
That’s quite a different conversation, don’t you think? Also, notice how it’s all about me? What does Julie get out of it? She GETS to help me (lucky her).
So, first things first. Fundraising is not an exercise in cume building. We are not sitting across the table for these short few days “building a relationship” with her. You and your on-air team needed to be doing that all last week, last month and all year… well before the fundraising event.
My job is to come in for a couple of days, and motivate and guide her to PAY for the coffee you all have every other day of the year.
We have a handful of days to raise the operating budget for your radio ministry. We need to be as concise, as focused, as motivating and as quick as we can about it. We utilize what we know to be true about human behavior and facilitating quick action to get the results you need to keep your ministry on the air and strong for the next year.
First, we want to have fun. Why? Because we want to keep her engaged, interested and invested in the outcome. We want to create a storyline for the week with a beginning, a middle and the end. We want her to want to check back in when she runs to pick up the kids, or on her way home from work because she wants to find out what is the latest twist to the story.
Secondly, the language we tend to use during most on-air fundraisers does not facilitate building a relationship that benefits HER. It tends to sound a bit egocentric. It’s all about what WE need in that moment, during that song or during the next challenge. What about her? What does SHE need? We hear language like, “Hey if you call right now, you can be a part of what God is doing HERE” (at and through our station).”
Get it? “YOU get to be a part of US.” Really?
Here’s what’s true. She is not a part of us. She let’s us into HER world …into her car, on her phone, computer, in her home, in her office. She isn’t a part of us, we are a part of her life and her world. She brings us with HER, not vice versa. The fact that she trusts us to take us with her, to carry her through, point her to God, encourage her, have fun with her and lift her up when she’s hurting, should inspire awe in us and humble us.
So, instead of “letting” her be a part of what “we” and our station or ministry is doing, how about we tell the truth. How about we let her know that it’s all about HER. She IS where it’s at. She’s not a part of what we’re doing. She MAKES IT ALL POSSIBLE. It doesn’t happen without her. She is giving so she enables us to continue to give HER what she wants, what she loves and what she’s come to depend on. She gives so we can keep encouraging her and others who need it. So we can be her safe haven.
Here’s the challenge and the mission for your fundraiser: we will connect with “her” more easily and more quickly if we simply keep her as our focus during our talk breaks.
As a radio professional and someone who has been raising money for Christian radio ministries for 22 years, it is my job to make it about her. To make sure she knows she’s responsible for all the stories of changed lives. Not a “part” of it but responsible for it as she gives her gift of support TODAY. In fact, right now.
She’s paying for the coffee she shares with your on-air team 365 days a year. Not because she “gets” to enter our world, but rather because she trusts us to enter her world and give her what she enjoys and wants more of.
Stephanie Kay Welter is an Independant Radio/TV Host, Fundraising Expert, Voiceover/commercial talent, Coach, Owner Crowned Productions, LLC … contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.StephanieKay.org.