Recap: 2018 DAC Planning Meeting

The Development Advisory Committee (DAC) gathered at PBS in January to examine critical challenges and opportunities facing fundraisers in public media. The two-day meeting laid the groundwork for new projects to support station’s local fundraising efforts. It also put a spotlight on how together the system can address the membership puzzle public media is experiencing.

As the Chair of the 2018 DAC, I am thrilled to share what was discussed at the 2018 planning meeting. The 14 members represent a talented and insightful group of station professionals who advise and guide the activities of PBS Development Services. Late last year, the DAC voted to expand its member footprint to focus on the two most critical areas of growth in fundraising: philanthropic, relational fundraising and digital revenue. Our newest members Jill Britton, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer for WTTW and WFMT, David Preston, Vice President of Membership at Twin Cities PBS, and Brian Sickora, Director and General Manager at UNC-TV bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the DAC.

We gathered to explore new fundraising areas, envisioning where our system could grow to promote its long-term health. Station capacity and capability differ widely, and it consistently remained our priority during the meeting to represent the vast diversity of our system. We sought to identify new tactics and strategies that were adaptable and served all stations of all sizes.

The DAC established working groups to target key, critical challenges and opportunities we face as an industry. For this year, the focus will be on the following:

  • Sustainer Giving
  • Advancing Philanthropy
  • Future of fundraising methodologies and practices in the changing media landscape, especially focusing on digital and on-air fundraising.

Key projects that will kick off this fiscal year include development of guidebooks, new training methods and tactics. Each working group will go beyond current DAC members to include other station leaders and voices in the system, adding balance, insight and variance to the conversation.

The sustainer working group is already testing the new sustainer online training course which will roll out this spring and is testing it with several stations. More on that soon.

The philanthropy working group is embarking on a planned giving station self-assessment tool, where stations will be able to assess their current planned giving capacities, but also receive a roadmap for expanding their programs, all guided by a DAC mentor. Based on feedback from DAC and stations, it was very clear that a step-by-step playbook with peer support is a useful tactic for building capacity at stations that are already running at full steam with limited resources.

Out of the many generative conversations during the meeting, one, in particular, could truly impact the system as a whole. For a few years now we have examined the “new fundraising and media landscape” we find ourselves in, particularly how changing technology affects our membership programs. Our understanding of membership fundraising is evolving rapidly, and we asked ourselves if now is the time for a larger conversation about the future of this area. The ever changing technology and the confluence of old and new audience engagement practices is something all media companies are dealing with. The DAC believes we should brainstorm beyond our 14 members, bring in outside voices, and consider a larger gathering around the future of membership in public media. This is still an early dialogue, but we are working on this concept.

These are just a few of the ideas we put forth to Development Services and we are excited to have a renewed role in advising and guiding these projects this year. The DAC consists of dedicated and invested system leaders, who have volunteered three years of their time to support station fundraisers. We are your liaison, not only to PBS, but to revenue- generating sustainability practices. I encourage you to reach out to me or a DAC member.

Jerry Liwanag
SVP, Membership & Marketing, South Florida PBS and 2018 DAC