Appealing incentives, impact levels and a challenge – bring more sustainers to KLRU

The 21-day campaign raised over $100,000 from more than 500 donors through a combination of on-air spots, email marketing, and a digital campaign on Google and Facebook for promotion.

Austin’s KLRU launched a 21-day digital sustainer campaign in late July. Designed to end at the August pledge drive, the campaign was promoted by the members station as a way to cut a full week from the on-air drive, while giving back to viewers the programs they love. The goal was to add 200 more sustaining members by August 11. KLRU reached that number within the first week and announced a stretch goal of 350 sustainers. It met that number as well, totaling 371 sustainers.

Susannah Winslow, KLRU’s membership director, broke down the numbers for us. “All in all, we got around 156 current sustainers to switch or upgrade, bringing in almost $30,000, annualized,” she says. “We acquired another 215 that were brand-new or that became a sustainer after having given to us at some point in the past. Those 215 raised almost $38,000. We had another 145 donors make one-time gifts, bringing in almost $20,000.”

The campaign also included a 24-hour Day of Giving on August 1, complete with a $15,000 challenge match. “I didn’t want to alienate people who might want to give us a one-time gift but weren’t interested in becoming a sustaining member,” Winslow says.

Overall, the 21-day campaign raised over $100,000 from more than 500 donors. KLRU used a combination of on-air spots, email marketing, and a digital campaign on Google and Facebook for promotion. (A separate direct mail campaign brought in additional sustainers not reflected in these numbers.)

Incentive to Give

According to Winslow, incentives were keys to her campaign’s success, enticing previous supporters to become sustainers and new members to give for the first time. “I always feel like you’ve got to have some incentive for people to take action,” she says. “We’re committed to getting more creative with our messaging and having fun with our pledge drives.” She and her team created a KLRU fan kit, designed for, in her words, “super fans” of the station. This pack included KLRU stickers, magnets, a bottle opener, and a bottle koozie. “It was all KLRU-branded to help get us out in the community a bit more.”

Anyone who became a sustainer—regardless of the gift level—received a fan kit. Current sustainers got a kit by switching to automatic funds transfer or upgrading their monthly amount. “So now we’re going to be sending out 500 of those puppies,” she says of the fan kits. “They were a huge component of our campaign.”

Unique gifts also played a role in the Giving Day campaign, which included I [Heart] PBS pins for donations of any amount, I [Heart] PBS t-shirts for $6/month sustainers or one-time gifts of $72, and KLRU-branded YETI ramblers for $12/month sustaining members or one-time donations of $144.

Sharing Viewer Pride

With uncertainty surrounding federal funding, KLRU’s viewers are more interested than ever in showing their support for the station and PBS. That makes the branded merchandise a huge incentive. “People are interested in it. They want to share their pride for things they believe in and support,” says Winslow. “This is a fun way to show them their support matters more than ever, but also as a way to say ‘Thank you.’” She hopes these new sustainers and donors will take their branded t-shirts or stickers out into the community. “People may actually go up to you and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I love PBS too.’ It gives them a conversation-starter around showing their pride for public media.”

She says the fun incentives also made it much easier for KLRU staff members to share the campaign on social media. Instead of just asking for funding for their workplace, they can share images of the fan kit or YETI rambler. “It’s more like, ‘Look at this cool fan kit. Aren’t these awesome? Don’t you want one too? Then sign up to be a $5 sustainer,’” explains Winslow. “They’re just sharing something fun. It gives them a way to make that ask without having to feel like they’re making an ask.”

Communicating Tangible Impact

long with the fan kits, Winslow also attributes the campaign’s success to the decision to communicate gift impact levels on the sustainer challenge donation page. Potential supporters were informed that a $5 monthly gift covered an hour of PBS KIDS programming, $10 a month helped fund an Indie Lens Pop-up community film screening, and $84 a month contributed to an hour of arts, drama, and cultural programming like Masterpiece.

“We broke it down into different levels to show the impact of giving into this campaign,” Winslow says. She believes people are more likely to give if they have a tangible idea of what it might accomplish. “People want to know what their money is supporting. Nowadays, that’s what donors and especially younger donors are wanting to know: How is my money going to make an impact in the community and make a difference? It’s a more heartwarming way to incentivize someone to give.”

Questions? Tracy Ferrier I Director I PBS Development Services or Susannah Winslow I Membership Director I KLRU