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Rich Anderson “Four Ideas to Help Your Next Pledge Drive”

It’s estimated that the average person gets hit with more than 6,000 ads in the course of a single day. In other words, those you are encouraging to give to your pledge drive will receive over 6,000 other appeals the same day. Since each of us is bombarded with asks, how will the request to give during your event stand out? What follows are four ideas to help cut through the clutter when engaging in your next on-air fundraiser.

#1 The Winning Team….
Nordak Track nearly doubled their sales by changing one sentence in infomercials. “Operators are standing by – please call now,” was changed to, “If operators are busy – please call again.” The first implies that operators are falling asleep waiting for someone – anyone – to call. The second implies that so many people want this thing, you will likely get a busy signal. People want what others are getting. They want to be on the winning team. If a host says, “every line is wide open,” does this sound like the winning team listeners want to be on? NEVER say “the phones are dead.” Instead, during slow times try something positive like, “The phones have been real busy today, but if you call right now, you’ll get through.”

#2 Because…
The word “because” is a trigger that can raise responses. In a research project conducted at a university library, a female student went to a long line of people waiting to make copies and said, “Can I skip in line?” She had a 63% success rate when it came to getting someone to let her cut. She then changed her ask to, “Can I skip in line because I’m in a hurry?” Her success rate then went up to 93%. To test the “because” theory she then did it all over again with the following ask, “Can I skip in line because I need to make copies?” Everybody was there to make copies but with the “because,” her success rate still achieved 92%. That’s way better than what she got without it. Consider giving listeners a “because.” Support (station name) because:

  • your favorite radio ministry impacts your life daily.
  • Kingdom/ministry investments are truly the only lasting investments.
  • there are many others like the listener from the testimony you just heard.
  • our message of hope amidst the COVID mayhem needs to continue.


#3 The give-back principle…The Disabled American Vets have excellent success with direct mail appeals.  Their typical 3 to 1 return is credited in part to the inclusion of a stack of nicely crafted return address labels with your name on them (among other small gifts). By giving us something, we feel more obligated to give back. I’ve even experienced this in other cultures. While bringing hygiene products into the jungle of Equatorial Guinea, my team was sent packing with armfuls of fresh bananas and avocados – ants and all. I’m not suggesting you start giving lots of premiums away on-the-air during your pledge drive but it’s important to remind people that over the last 365 days (station name) has given them great music, concerts, fun, sanity amidst COVID, AND maybe it’s their time to give something back.


#4 The impact principle…People like to know that when they give their $40/month or $100 to your station, it will have an impact. If they don’t think their donation will make a difference they might not give. You know the attitude, “Aw, my 40 bucks won’t do much to help them raise $XXX.” Not true! Use language that reminds and encourages listeners that EVERY gift counts. Some might even think that since you’re a non-profit you have much lower expenses than a “normal” business.  To combat this I like taking an actual budget and breaking big expenses down into bite sizes. A generous gift of $XXX will cover the electricity at the transmitter/tower that enables your community to listen to this ministry for a day.  Your gift of $XXX will cover our music licensing fees for one hour enabling your family to listen to life-changing music. “What, (station name) has to pay royalty fees to play the music I enjoy?”  Yes, we do.


Next month I’ll continue this theme and get a lot more hands-on with three do’s and don’ts for pledge drive.


Rich Anderson is ready to help you with your next pledge drive, or any fundraising need, for about half the price of the big firms. Rich got his Christian radio start over 30 years ago at the legendary AM 1000 WCFL-Chicago and 103.9 WCRM-Dundee. Rich served as PD/afternoon drive at WJQK-Holland, co-hosted mornings at WMUZ-Detroit, and later started and managed WAYK/WAYG (Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids) while also on mornings.  Rich has traveled the country serving major donors for Kids Alive International and conducting radio drives for ShareMedia Services.  Rich has a heart for service and has organized and led 17 mission teams to nine third-world countries.  Currently Rich consults Smile FM, Michigan’s largest Christian radio network, on all things fundraising – and he’d love to help you too! He can be reached at missionrich@live.com or 269-548-7700.

3 thoughts on “Rich Anderson “Four Ideas to Help Your Next Pledge Drive”

  • Excellent ideas, Rich! Personally, I think the biggest factor in listener-giving is that they appreciate the work you are doing to enrich their lives. If they love you, they will give what they can!

    • Thanks for the comments, Bill! I agree with you regarding listener-giving. Here’s a quote from my follow-up article already submitted to HisAir for next month. “Most research suggests that the number one reason people give to Christian radio is because they like what they get, or their family gets.” You said it more eloquently but I believe we’re on the same page. Maybe I should edit my article to include your quote. :)

  • The majority of listeners who make pledges are P1 fans. Their lives, or the lives of a family member or friend, have been changed by the programming. The more effective the program format is at changing lives and creating Christ-followers, the more successful the pledge drives will be. The Program Director is the Pledge Drive Director’s best friend!


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