• Don’t play too much music
• Over the years I’ve been a part of fundraisers where the station comes up with a new idea, play more music. Over the last thirty years I’ve never seen this work. As a matter of fact I’ve seen the fundraiser bomb each and every time. The thought was to talk less, play more music and keep more listeners tuned in. In theory that may sound good but I can assure you it never works. You have to take time to share your vision, connect with the hearts of your listeners and believe me, that cannot be done while you have a “more music”pledge drive. Your listeners are not going to catch hints that you want them to give. You have to step down and explain things to those who love your station. Less music during your fundraiser always means more music. Now take this tip in stride and don’t become an all talk fundraiser either. There is a balance in everything you do.
• Break The Format
• Don’t begin every break to your fundraiser as though you are still doing regular radio. If your fundraiser doesn’t sound different than your normal format, people won’t hear what you are actually doing. Radio is background noise. I know most radio people hate to hear that, but it’s the truth. You have to have pattern interrupters in order to get the attention of your listeners. The same ole slick format will not get their attention. Come out of a song with a listener story. Come out of a song and just say, “Hope…(Wait 3 or 4 seconds with just dead air, no music bed and continue) When you woke up this morning you didn’t know you could provide hope.” At that point read a story that touches the heart and close the deal. That kind of pattern interrupter works.
• Dead air is ok
• Being in radio you know that dead air isn’t your friend, or is it? There are times during a fundraiser where it’s ok to have a few seconds of dead air when sharing a story. This causes the listener to lean in and really listen. Don’t believe me, try it some time.
• Background noise is ok
• It’s ok to have background noise during your event. Phones ringing, people talking etc… You are not trying to do regular radio. You want to make sure your fundraiser sounds different. I would have phones ringing, a sound that goes off each time you get a web pledge, people talking and laughing in the background.
• It’s ok to talk longer than two minutes
• The heads of program directors and consultants just did a complete 360 when they read those words. It’s ok to go longer than two minutes. I know, but many say you can do any thing you need to in under two minutes. Part of that may be true but you cannot connect with the heart of your listener in less than two minutes in most cases. I’ve done well over 600 fundraisers and I promise you this is true. Usually less time on the air means less money. Now, I am not encouraging you to talk six, seven or eight minutes in a break, however I’ve done many breaks that are three, four and perhaps on the top end five minutes and they were very captivating. You have to make sure you bring the content and actually connect with the listener or the breaks will be too long and will have a tune out factor. It’s all about the content, great story and connection. Stay on track! Hey, I’ve heard one minute breaks that sounded way to long when the content wasn’t brought.
• Do Bad Radio
• Good radio is usually bad fundraising and yet good fundraising can be very captivating. Yes this means you have to leave the rules of good radio behind for your fundraising. Now, that doesn’t mean you go absolutely nuts but it does mean you take into account the above tips that I have given you. You do GREAT radio all year long so you can do your fundraiser. I promise you if you keep to your normal good radio rules, you will be disappointed with your results financially. Think outside the box!
Have a great fundraising season and go break some rules!
Bill Scott is a fundraising consultant and on-air host with ShareMedia Services. He’d be glad to hear from you at [email protected]