Fundraising for both public broadcasting radio and television stations saw significant gains for fiscal year 2017. With 78 stations participating in the annual State of the System report, 3.5 million donors gave to a wide variety of station sizes, licensee types, formats and geographic locations. This is the first time in decades that both radio/TV saw marked increases in donors and revenue, according to a story in Current.
The report is derived from public radio and television station data from the donorCentrics Benchmarking Project, which has been presented by Target Analytics, a division of Blackbaud, for more than 20 years.
While public radio stations have faced challenges from new delivery platforms and a new generation that does not necessarily own radios, “it has still performed well during periods of increased news consumption,” according to Target Analytics. “With the 2016 primaries and presidential election and the ongoing intense news cycle, tuning in to public radio news stations has been strong, and FY17 results show it,” writes Deb Ashmore, the analyst company’s Senior Fundraising Analyst.
Between FY13 and FY16, median public radio donor counts fluctuated by no more than 1,000 donors. In FY17, median donor counts increased by nearly 3,500 donors for an 11% increase over FY16. Donors increased for 81% of stations in the study in FY17, with nearly half experiencing double-digit growth.
The report also explains that with a younger audience and less use of acquisition methods other than on-air pledges, radio stations have been converting their files to sustainers at a faster rate than television. “By individual station, sustainers as a share of total donors ranged from 27% to a peak of 82%—the highest of any public radio station for the second year in a row, Target Analytics reports.
“Acquisition of new donors was the primary driver of donor growth in FY17, with a median new donor count increase of 20%,” Ashmore reports. “Most stations experienced new donor growth, with one quarter of all stations increasing by 50% or more.” Of those stations that did not have an increase in new donors in FY17, a common factor was music-only formats.
Meanwhile, the median share of sustainers among all new donors increased for the first time since FY14, up by one percentage point to 42%, and ranged from 19% to 73%, The Current notes. For stations with the largest concentrations of donors aged 65+, the range high point was 35%.
And in FY17, revenue from major-gift sourced donations accounted for 18% of all revenue from single-gift donors, up from 12% in FY13. In FY17, 1.5% of all donors gave $1,000 or more over the course of the year. Sustaining donors have also been increasing overall donor value. The “long-term value” of these donors surpasses that of single-gift donors by 26% at 24 months after acquisition. At 49 months, sustainers out-value single-gift donors by 51%. NPR says.