Skip to main content

Radiothons As Fundraisers

Nine local stations in my market are conducting a two-day radiothon benefiting the State’s largest homeless shelter... called the Road Home... yesterday and today. Their fundraising goal is $250,000.

This pales in comparison to the big dogs of radiothons, Children’s Miracle Network and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which generate tens of millions of dollars. But it’s an admirable effort nonetheless, none the least of which because it involves stations from two separate ownership groups and multiple radio formats!

After getting killed in the early days of the Great Recession the Radio Advertising Bureau reports that radio has grown in 2010, although more so at the national than local level. Still, how do you do ask a local radio station to do a radiothon at a time when stations can't afford to turn down even one ad?

Here’s how: most stations do change the way they format their programming during the radiothon, but the time spent talking about the cause comes out of the music rather than the ad ‘budget.’

So a sports talk radio station talks about the college football bowl games, the NBA and the NFL, but it also talks about the shelter. The hosts of the easy listening station that otherwise plays nothing but Christmas music this time of year, break in a little more often and play less music, but all the ads remain intact. A delicate balance has to be struck, but by this means radiothon stations don’t lose in any ad revenue.

One of the things the Road Home radiothon could do but doesn’t (so far as I can tell) is program ‘success stories.’ The Road Home is pretty progressive shelter and they work very hard at quickly getting people out of the Shelter and into permanent housing.

No doubt they’ve had success at this. They could do pre-produced ‘packages’ that tell the stories of people who are in a better place after their stay at the Shelter. They could do live interviews with Shelter alumni. They could certainly put out a fact sheet for on-air talent that explains not just the needs, which are considerable, but the triumphs.

Otherwise the Road Home risks ‘donor fatigue.’

One thing I appreciate about the Road Home radiothon is the way they pit the stations against each other in informal competition to see who can generate the most donations. That’s smart.
The Road Home also… astutely, I believe… encourages not just cash donations, but donations of clothing, bedding and the like as well as volunteer hours. Statistics demonstrate that volunteers are more generous donors than people who donate only money.


Steve Allan said…
Here is your biggest challenge - most radio stations will not do radiothons that aren't already grandfathered in because of the fear they have of what it will do to their ratings. And, in truth, radiothons are not 'tune in' events. They show a strong community commitment and benefit stations is perceptual ways. Unfortunately, most radio operators cannot see past that.
I am a big advocate of these - as I managed several over the years - but am afraid it is often not an option for non-profits because of radio's myopia.
Hi Steve:

Thanks for your comments. You're exactly right on both counts.

Most radiothons get poor ratings.

And most require ownership that is exceptionally committed to have a chance.

I also think it's safe to say that most radiothons are also dramatically under-produced.

Better produced radiothons would do better ratings wise, I'm convinced.

But there's a certain Catch-22 element therein, since someone would have to spend a few shekels upfront to produce a better radiothon.

Finally, a radiothon is almost always going to be more likely to take place in the mid-sized (say Arbitron 25 on up) than in the top 15 markets. My market, Salt Lake, is #30 according to the current Arbitrons.

Again, thanks for your comments.

Warm regards,

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…