KUT Public Radio

KUT Public Radio Gets to Know Its Tech-Savvy Audience and Benefits from Multichannel Fundraising with donorCentrics™ Benchmarking Solutions

KUT, a public radio station operated by the University of Texas at Austin, strives to be the most trusted source for news and music in the area. Established in 1958, it is committed to supporting civic and cultural life in Central Texas through daily coverage, high-quality documentary production, and exceptional music programming. It supports the mission of the University to educate and foster a more civil society and provides public radio service to Central Texas via 90.5 FM in Austin and globally through http://www.kut.org/.

Challenge

Today’s KUT public radio listeners are similar to the station’s historic listeners in their desire for unbiased reporting and great programming – but like so many of today’s nonprofit donors, they want to define their relationship with the station and the ways in which they want to be involved.

“We are facing new challenges,” said Holly Gaete, KUT Membership Manager. “No longer can we look solely to on-air or direct mail fundraising. We are in the age of choice: people want to give how and when they want to give. The challenge for us is to understand what that means and to tailor our requests.”

One of the ways KUT staff does this is through donorCentrics benchmarking solutions from Target Analytics®.

“We trust the donorCentrics data and look at a number of reports every month, like total number of contributors, average gift, and retention,” said Gaete. “It helps us determine our course of action.”

“It’s critical,” she added, “for us to know how best to raise money and be efficient at the same time.”

Solution

One of the Target Analytics reports that Gaete looks at regularly is the annual donorCentrics report. In it, she looks for growth opportunities.

Recently, when reviewing the report, she noted that the station’s $250 – $499 donor category numbers were down, which led the team to look at donor levels and past giving, wondering if they were asking the right amount. After analyzing the data, they decided to customize the amount they asked of a donor. For example, if a member has given $75 when asked to donate at $35, $50, or $75 levels, they thought it might be time to ask that donor to upgrade to a higher giving level of $75, $100, or $150.

The results are promising. “It works if you work with the data,” said Gaete.

Another report Gaete is hooked on is the donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report. Offering an in-depth analysis of giving data from a number of North American nonprofits, it clarifies the importance of multichannel communications and donation vehicles.

“We are a tech city,” said Gaete of Austin. “We see online giving growing as a percent of donations, but we know we need to understand that trend in the larger context.”

In that respect, the Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report is helpful. “I love it. I’m able to look at all our categories and see something that maybe I haven’t seen before,” she said. “It gives me a chance to look at online, offline, and pledge data and to see the connections.”

One of KUT’s key learnings from the report is that the more ways a donor connects with the station, the longer they remain loyal donors. That is, members who give both online and in response to a direct mail appeal or an online pledge drive are more likely to remain loyal supporters than those who give through only one channel. “When we pull a direct mail list, we always choose donors who gave their first gift online.”

Results

KUT joined the Target Analytics Internet Giving Benchmarking Group in 2009 and Gaete was pleasantly surprised. “It was so great to be able to talk to my peers and to find out how they were meeting their challenges, to discuss what was working for them.”

An equally important part of the annual meetings for Gaete is the interactions with the group leader. During the benchmarking meetings, leaders discuss fundraising best practices and provide examples of organizations that are producing results through innovative fundraising approaches.

Gaete estimates that one of the takeaways from a benchmarking meeting she attended netted her station $20,000 in one day. “One of strategies that interested me was the ‘email challenge’. I saw how it was working for some groups,” she said. “So, I tried it.”

To create the email challenge, a sustaining member of the station offered to make a contribution of $10,000 if the combined community would donate a matching $10,000 within a fundraising day. To promote the member’s offer, KUT sent an email to everyone on the station’s email list, letting them know about the challenge and asking them to help meet the match.

The results surpassed expectations as the community responded to the challenge and average daily revenue doubled from $20,000 to $40,000.

Gaete adds: “One of the things Target Analytics has taught us is that we don’t have to be so dependent on on-air fundraising, that we can develop our online and direct mail appeals to increase participation by members of our community and increase revenue.”

Based on her experience to date, Gaete expects new and even better things ahead.

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