ArticlesFeature Article

Frank Kavenik “Increasing Pledge Drive Revenue using BroadcastMetrics and Data Science”

Increasing Pledge Drive Revenue using BroadcastMetrics and Data Science

Data Science helps Christian radio leaders increase signal coverage, listening audience, and donor revenue. This article is the fifth in a series of HisAir.net articles sharing the benefits of using Data Science. It focuses on increasing Pledge Drive revenue using Data Science and the BroadcastMetrics system invented by the author. Several Pledge Drive strategies are currently popular. This article shares some of the Data Science strategies and tactics that have proven to be successful.

Leaders of one major Christian radio network averaged 15% annual revenue growth after implementing Data Science. Leaders of another large network implemented Data Science and afterward averaged nearly 10% yearly growth. Data Science and BroadcastMetrics may also help you to increase your station or network’s signal coverage, listening audience, and donor revenue.

The BroadcastMetrics Data Science System supports growth in all five Christian Radio Growth Cycle segments. Figure 1 below shows the five segments where BroadcastMetrics and Data Science can help leaders grow Christian stations and networks:



This article focuses on using BroadcastMetrics and Data Science to help grow Step 4, Pledge Development. Three previous HisAir.net articles by this author, consultant Frank Kavenik and an article by consultant Dick Jenkins discuss growing other segments using BroadcastMetrics and Data Science.

A well-implemented, comprehensive Data Science strategy typically supports annual revenue growth between 5% and 15%. Figure 2 below shows that if each department grows yearly at just 1%, 2%, and 3%, the result can be annual revenue growth of over 5%, 10%, and 15%:



Figure 3 below calculates the ten-year revenue growth for 5%, 10%, and 15%. It shows that in ten years, an average annual growth of 10% more than doubles revenue and 15% growth more than triples revenue:


BroadcastMetrics and Data Science support Pledge Development in three critical ways. Together, they provide highly actionable data and information that helps Christian radio leaders increase pledge revenue by:

-Asking for the right amounts,
-At the right times, and
-In the right manner.

This article discusses these three critical success factors and how each one helps increase Pledge Drive revenue. Data Science supports leaders by providing data and information that they can use to optimize these three crucial areas.

As an example, the Price Elasticity Chart in Figure 4 below predicts that an upcoming Pledge Drive will raise $900,000 by asking for the right amounts, at the right times, in the right manner:



-The $900,000 peak amount in the center represents asking for the right amounts at the right times in the right manner.
-The lower $800,000 to the left of the $900,000 peak represents asking for too little or too late.
– The lower $800,000 to the right of the $900,000 peak represents asking for too much or too soon.

BroadcastMetrics and Data Science can help maximize revenue by quantifying the unique combinations of amounts, times, and manners for each pledge drive for each organization.


Asking for the right amounts is critical to the success of each pledge drive and will be unique to each organization for each pledge drive. The right amounts for any given pledge drive will share two essential characteristics. The right ask amounts will be high in both:

-Total Dollars Pledged and
-Correlation to Total Revenue

Figure 5 below shows the four Pledge Drive ask quadrants:


Every possible ask for a recurring pledge or one-time gift falls into one of the four quadrants shown above:

Asks in the all-green quadrant can increase total pledge drive revenue.

Asks in the other three quadrants can decrease total pledge drive revenue.


It is beyond the scope of this article to explain how to calculate and categorize every possible ask. The simple example below may help explain why some asks increase revenue while others asks decrease revenue.

Figure 4 depicts the relationships among Dollars Pledged vs. Average Pledge vs. Number of Pledges. In Figure 4, the average annualized pledge is $300. For this simplified example, assume that the $300 average represents average one-time gifts of $300 and average monthly pledges of $25.

Assume that the $25 monthly average represents the average of the three optimal monthly pledge ask amounts of $20, $50, and $100. It might appear that revenue would increase by asking for a fourth amount of $10 pledges. However, when asked for only $10, some donors who would have pledged $20, $50, or $100 will only give $10 instead of a higher amount.

By donating the asked-for $10, some donors will feel they fully met the station or network needs and, therefore, do not need to donate $20, $50, $100, or other higher amounts.

Mathematically, making up for lost $20, $50, and $100 pledges requires:

-Twice as many $10 pledges for each $20 pledge that was substituted,
-Five times as many $10 pledges for each $50 pledge that was substituted, and
-Ten times as many $10 pledges for each $100 pledge that was substituted.

Detailed analysis of the substitution of pledge amounts calculates “price elasticity,” which is unique to each organization for each pledge drive. A sample price elasticity curve is shown above in Figure 4. If the average pledge is $25, then asking for $10 pledges may not generate enough additional $10 pledges to offset the substitution of higher pledge amounts.


Maximizing pledged revenue requires asking for the right amounts (see above) and at the right times. As shown in Figure 4:

-Asking too much or too soon lowers the total pledged amount, and
-Asking too little or too late lowers the total pledged amount

A detailed study of each organization’s previous pledge drives helps calculate the optimal dollar amounts to ask for each hour on each day of each pledge drive. For any given Pledge Drive, there is a natural giving curve that donors prefer. Asking the right amounts at the right times helps match on-air asks with the giving curve that donors prefer, which maximizes total pledged revenue.

Analyzing the giving curves from past pledge drives determines the optimal giving curve for each pledge drive for a particular station or network.


There are 18 factors associated with asking in the right manner. A previous HisAir.net article by Pledge Drive consultant Dick Jenkins addresses each of these 18 factors:


One of the most important of the 18 strategies is the “Rule of Three” Pricing Strategy.

The Rule of Three applies to many different scenarios in everyday life. The rule is based upon the time-proven concept of providing consumers with three optimal predetermined choices. Consumers are regularly presented with these three choices when they:

-Purchase gasoline,
-Select seats on an airplane,
-Determine the option packages on a new car, etc.

Step 1 above discussed selecting the best ask amounts. As applied to pledge drives, the Rule of Three strategy calculates the six optimal ask amounts that maximize total pledged revenue:

-The three most effective recurring monthly pledge amounts and
-The three most effective non-recurring gift amounts.

For example, an optimal on-air ask could be:

“Would you consider giving a monthly pledge of $20, $50, or $100, or a gift of $250, $500, or $1,000, or another amount?”

The six optimal ask amounts are unique to each station or network for each pledge drive. These six amounts are selected to represent both:

-The highest dollar contributions in previous pledge drives, and
-The highest correlations to pledged revenue.

Of the four quadrants shown in Figure 5 above, the six optimal asks are in the upper right quadrant, highlighted in green. The green quadrant contains the optimal asks representing the highest correlation to revenue and the highest dollar contribution.

An essential part of the optimal ask strategy is offering all six questions simultaneously. By design, most potential donors will prefer one of the three monthly low-mid-high pledges or three non-recurring low-mid-high gifts.

Asking only one amount during a pledge drive break will neglect five of the six opportunities to make the right ask for the most potential donors who are listening at that time. Asking all six amounts together maximizes the giving opportunity for the greatest number of potential donors.

Pledge drive asks can also be fine-tuned to address specific cash flow needs by adjusting the amount of emphasis between monthly pledges and non-recurring gifts:-

-Emphasizing non-recurring gifts increases short-term cash flow when necessary, while
-Emphasizing monthly pledges increases long-term Total Lifetime Giving and Net Present Value.


There are many strategies for conducting successful pledge drives. While each situation is unique, the suggestions above represent data science strategies that have helped Christian Radio leaders increase annual revenue by as much as 15%.

Effectively implementing these Broadcast Metrics Data Science strategies has been proven to help increase total Pledge Drive revenue.

This HisAir.net article is the fifth in a series on using Data Science to increase signal coverage, listening audience, and donor revenue. The four previous articles address other aspects of using Data Science to help stations and networks grow and prosper:

Increasing Revenue 18 Ways with Data-Driven Pledge Drives


Increasing Revenue using RadioMetrics-DSS


The ABCs of Buying a Radio Station


Forecasting Donor Revenue for Purchasing a New Radio Station – Five Methods



Frank Kavenik is a Christian Radio AI Data Scientist who invented the BroadcastMetrics Data Science System.  As a consultant, he uses Data Science and BroadcastMetrics to support Christian radio leaders as they increase signal coverage, listening audience, and donor revenue.  

Frank has over 20 years of Data Science experience in Christian radio and holds management, law, and engineering degrees.  His LinkedIn profile is at:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/frank-kavenik-jd-mm-528911/   Frank’s e-mail is: frankk@data-sci.biz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *