“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14b
Please don’t hang me high from the gallows when I take the above verse totally out of context. It was a matter of literal life and death for hundreds of thousands of people in Queen Esther’s day. For us? Not so, but here’s where stories weave together.
Your station is a voice of hope and encouragement to a confused and fearful listening audience. Most in your audience have some kind of relationship with Christ, but nonetheless are shaken by the sudden and ever evolving turn of events in the past few weeks. What’s your station to do at a time like this, especially when it comes to sales, underwriting and spring on-air fundraising?
1) What’s your station’s mission and vision? There’s no better time for a realignment in knowing what’s important than going through a bit of a crisis. With props to Simon Sinek, take a moment and ask yourself, “Why does my station exist? How is it fulfilling that purpose? How do my responses to these questions direct our station’s decision of fundraising?”
2) Who’s leading the charge? God has appointed you/your station to be His voice. Every biblical reference to right leadership includes the prerequisite of humility, knowing our strength is not our own, but in the Lord. How are you being an example of Christ through meekness and peace while modeling courage and strength?”
3) What’s the focus? Fundraising is never just about raising money to meet budget. It’s part of what happens when God’s story is at work through your listeners’ stories. It’s you capturing listeners tell how God used your station to help their stories be written. Especially in times like these, your station is invaluable. How might you be both discerning and affirming of the value your listeners have for you today, and for the weeks and months ahead?
4) Why? Why not? Times are challenging, and we shouldn’t be blind to those challenges. Your listeners, many of whom are Christ-followers, have a unique opportunity to spread hope and mercy like never before, and they are stepping up in big ways wanting to help. Your positive station voice is a huge part of that process. How can you connect their desire with your community’s need?
5) If not now, when? There’s a medieval proverb that says, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” You know there is no guarantee when this frenzy will end, and it’s likely the “new normal” will take some time to settle. How long can you live without generating revenue or asking for donations? Will funds be easier to raise when the “flattened curve” is flattened? How do you know?
6) What Are You Missing? Your listener knows how to say no, you don’t have to say it for her. Most stations consider it a win when 5% of the audience donates; most sales people are thankful for one yes to every ten nos. Throw in the stigma of asking for help when someone else is hurting and one only wonders why so many are so hesitant to ask. Three words for you: Get. Over. It. Stay humble and sincere, but put away the heroic martyrdom and turn the question: why would you refuse your listeners or clients the celebrated opportunity to bless you as you have blessed them?
7) What’s the Goal? Closely related to defining your focus, it’s quite possible you may have to reset your day-to-day/event expectations. Assuming you move forward with on-air soliciting and sales, you’ll likely need to refine benchmarks of a win, even the methodology of getting there. 300 dollar-a-day partners is the same as 1,095 single donors at $100 each, and vice-versa. In either case — more consistent giving or more donors than expected — how do you lose?
8) What’s Plan B? Not a medieval proverb but still just as savvy comes this wisdom from the (Boy & Girl) Scouts of America: Be prepared. If you choose to postpone your fundraiser or hold your sales/underwriting teams back, what’s your plan to fill the gap for your affected staff, listeners and clients? How will you super-serve them to further endear them to support you when you do begin soliciting again?
9) Reflection or Projection? Sales and underwriting appointments and on-air fundraisers are about noting past performance and sizing up future expectations. In both cases, listeners say it best – are they saying it on your station, and are others hearing it? What are you doing now and throughout the year to celebrate your wins and cast your vision so your listeners can say it to someone else?
10) By Faith, Not By Sight It’s intentional I’m not concluding with a question. It’s a statement; a declaration of which we all need to be reminded. In the end, you wouldn’t want me to tell you what to do in this situation, and I wouldn’t want to rob you of that step with God. It is a faith journey, just as it is every time we open our mics and hearts to lay our need to the listening community. As soon as I think I’ve got it figured out, it’s time for me to walk away because God and His provision is so much bigger. Go with God. Be strong and courageous, humble and confident, joy-filled and sure that God’s got this… ’cause, He does.
Executive Director, WCSG
P.S. For additional reading, I highly recommend these two pieces. The first comes from our friends at DickersonBakker and the latter from our friends and Dunham+Company