Stations Explore Digital Fundraising Readiness

Seventy-eight station representatives met after the 2017 PBS Annual Meeting for a one-day Digital Fundraising track at DevDay. Of those who attended, 59% said their station does not have dedicated digital fundraising resources, although most expressed plans to increase investment. What obstacles prevent readiness?

Session Format

During two sessions, participating stations were asked to assess the state of digital fundraising in the system, and evaluate the efficacy of their own station’s fundraising presence online. The intent was for stations to identify digital fundraising priorities for PBS and individual stations. The digital track at DevDay consisted of a morning and afternoon session, where stations worked together to determine top digital fundraising priorities for the system and their station, using a collaborative voting software.

In the first session, stations produced a SWOT Analysis  on the state of digital fundraising in the system by individually submitting opportunities and threats through the polling software, and “upvoting” responses from their peers. The outcomes, in essence, were crowdsourced. The afternoon session followed a similar format, but with an introspective lense. It asked participants to assess their station’s digital fundraising presence online and in real-time.

The makeup of attendees was mixed, although most were TV-only licensees with veteran experience. Of the seventy-eight total attendees, 76 percent were TV only licensees, 46 percent were primarily in membership, and over 40 percent have been in public media for more than 11 years.

Takeaways for the System

Stations worked together to produce top opportunities, threats, and recommendations for the system during the SWOT Analysis session. Click here for the full SWOT. They are as follows:

Top Opportunities 

  • Younger audiences that are more responsive to digital fundraising
  • One-click giving for ease
  • Leverage PBS massive online audience, e.g., COVE
  • High digital ROI, i.e., lower cost to achieve greater reach

Top Threats

  • Lack of Amazon-like checkout for easy donations that merge with our databases
  • Key digital resources not under Development, thus not a priority
  • PBS content on Amazon Prime and other platforms, DVDs available on shop.pbs for less than pledge
  • Lack of enough experienced digital fundraising talent in the system

Top Recommendations

Based on the SWOT, stations delivered a set of recommendations to the system. The most upvoted recommendations are as follows:

  • Create more digital templates for easy station use
  • Allow national fundraising online
  • Invest in software for one-click donations (“If you like this program…”)
  • Build tools allowing stations to localize, fundraise in COVE

Recurring Themes

In addition to the top recommendations, there were a number of recurring themes that emerged during the group discussion. These themes can be categorized into four groups: readiness, investment & new tools, acquiring new members, and Passport.  Click here for an in-depth list of recurring themes.  

Takeaways for the Stations

In addition to the SWOT Analysis session, the 78 station professionals were asked to evaluate stations digital readiness as well as their digital fundraising presence online.

Stations On Digital Readiness:

  • 59% said their station does not have dedicated digital fundraising resources
  • 47% said digital fundraising strategy “non-existent or “nearly non-existent,” 2% said “awesome”
  • 80% said they plan to increase digital fundraising resources next year

Stations also assessed their donation form and presence on The results can be found in a full debrief of findings.

The digital track at DevDay was a great launching pad for stations and PBS Development Services to identify new opportunities that can help stations overcome digital fundraising barriers. Despite digital fundraising innovations such as Passport and PBS donation forms, it made clear that further investment is needed across the system to realize the full potential of digital fundraising and see stations succeed. For more information, check out a full debrief of findings from DevDay.