A.K.A. : What a Secular Radio Station Taught Me About Fundraising
The Women’s Ministry Council is located in the Treasure Coast of Florida. If you travel south east of us, you will land in the Bahamas. The Bahamas have been in the news regularly since Hurricane Dorian took a slow, but devastating, stroll across their northern islands. In some areas, little if anything stands. Lives were lost. Homes were lost. And the recovery effort is going to take years.
South Floridians have a special kinship with the Bahamas. Not only do we have locals who have come to live here from the Bahamas, but it is a popular weekend vacation spot for Floridians. It was no surprise to any of us that when the Bahamas needed us, we were ready to give back the islands that are near and dear to our heart.
A popular radio station began an immediate effort to obtain donations of phyiscal goods to bring to the Bahamas. Shortly after they made a decision, they were going to hold a 48 hour fundraising drive to raise $100,000. Their morning show would run non stop for 48 hours because that is how long Hurricane Dorian hovered over the islands moving at such a slow pace that it only moved 100 miles in 2 days (100 miles = $100,000 , $1 per mile it traveled during the 48 span).
By the end of the 48 hour marathon, the radio station raised a whopping 200,000 dollars. They not only met their goal, but knocked it out of the waters. I was stunned. I can’t even raise $500 on my birthday for a good cause. I’ve watched organizations and churches try to raise funds for ministries, trips, missions, building projects, etc. Very rarely do I see these attempts result in DOUBLE their goal, particularly when the original goal is already in the 6 digits.
Here is what I learned:
- This radio show has built more than just an audience, they built a community. They are highly active and present in their community for smaller fundraising events and good causes, as well as just out right fun. People know who they are.
- The people know who they are, and the radio show knows who their people are. As they would announce donations, there would at times be little comments about who the person is and how they knew them. It showed how the connection to the community was not one sided but mutual. They are more like extended family.
- They made giving fun. Yes, this was a tragedy for the Bahamas… and they never downplayed the devastation. But, instead of playing on the emotions to fuel donations they instead emphasized their dedication to helping the recovery effort in a very fun way that allowed the givers to participate. Small donations were rewarded with song requests, larger donations were rewarded with visits to the station, on air time, and even gags like giving a pie to the face.
- The show recognized this was a special circumstance that required a special response, and they communicated the need to their audience effectively.
- The show was dedicated to total transparency on how the funds would be used, and committed to long term recovery support vs. a hit and run donation drive.
- The team had a focused target for their recovery efforts. By having a specific Bahamian community that they intended to build, it took a huge recovery effort and made it bite sized and made the undertaking less daunting.
Perhaps, we could learn a thing or two about our own fundraising efforts from how a secular radio station raised $200,000 in 48 hours.