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VPR's June Membership Drive: Short, Sweet And Successful

Update for June 15: Thank you! VPR met its June 2015 membership drive goal of $325,000 early Saturday morning, after just three days and two hours of traditional pledge drive fundraising. It was one of the shortest drives in VPR history. More than 3,000 listeners contributed to the effort.

It was the second time in a row that we've attempted to eliminate a membership drive by asking for your support before the drive was scheduled to begin without preempting programming. While we didn't completely eliminate the drive this time around like we did in March, we raised 73% of our goal before the drive began last Wednesday. We also did it on a shorter timeline - two weeks instead of three - to further minimize the impact. To put this in perspective, under our traditional model of fundraising, we would have completed at least 16 days of program-interrupting on-air fundraising by this time of the year. To date, we've completed just 3 days and two hours. 

Thank  you once again to everyone who participated in this effort or otherwise supports VPR - there is no VPR without you. Thanks also to everyone providing feedback about this new model of fundraising - it's new territory for all of us and we'll continue tweaking and adjusting in order to raise the funding we need while minimizing the impact on your listening. Stay tuned!

Original Post, May 20: We’re working hard to turn the page on nearly 40 years of traditional on-air fundraising … You know, when we interrupt programming for several days to remind you that listener support is essential to VPR’s service?

Friends like you care about VPR and know raising money on-air is both cost-effective and necessary for our success, but you challenged us to find a way to raise those funds in a way that’s less disruptive to your listening. So, earlier this year we tried something new – and it worked! Listeners helped us eliminate an entire membership drive by responding to brief on-air reminders that didn’t preempt programming. 

We did it once. But can we do it again? We’re leaving that up to you. Our promise is simple: Our membership campaign ends when we meet our $325,000 goal. If we raise it by June 9, the on-air drive won’t even begin.

Please donate now and we could eliminate the June drive altogether.

There’s no need to wait — the sooner you give, the more chances you have to win some great prizes we’ll be giving away between now and when we meet our goal.

VPR is your public radio station —when you hear Alex Keefe’s voice on All Things Considered, a story from Charlotte Albright, Classical Music with Walter Parker, or visit to stay updated on the news during your busy day, VPR is your connection to the people and places you love. And none of it would be here without your support.

Please make your contribution now — we could eliminate another pledge drive and usher in a new era of fundraising for public radio.

Thank you in advance for your generous support!


If you’re still asking for donations on the air, how is it not a pledge drive?

First, a bit of background: We still need to raise a certain amount of money each year to stay on the air and keep the programming coming — there's no getting around that. And a direct appeal over the radio is the most cost-effective way for us to reach listeners, including new listeners and supporters who may not know how the public radio funding model works.

However, in recent years, listeners have been challenging us to find another way that is less disruptive. We decided to try a campaign to eliminate the drive before it begins after hearing about the success of several stations around the country over the last year.

So … how exactly does it differ from a traditional drive?

In this new model, our fundraising “pitches” are preempting absolutely no programming. All the on-air mentions are scheduled during regular breaks in the programming where you normally hear what’s coming up later on Fresh Air, or about a new project at – that sort of thing. Compare that with a traditional on-air membership drive, when we preempt up to 20 minutes of programming per hour during some parts of the day. We think that's a pretty good trade off!

What happens if you don’t meet your goal by June 9?

We will go on the air the morning of June 10 and begin our traditional on-air pledge drive – but only for as long as it takes to meet our overall goal of $325,000.

Is this the new norm?

We certainly want to continue this trend of fundraising that's less disruptive to our listeners! At the same time, traditional drives continue to be the best way to reach out to first-time contributors to VPR and educate them about how public radio works. We believe the future of fundraising for public radio is somewhere in the middle, resulting in drastically fewer days of preempted programming.  

Michelle leads the team that oversees station branding, marketing, events, communications, and audience services. She joined VPR in 2002.
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