Text-giving for pubcasters: learn from those who’ve tried it

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Text donations for disaster relief in Haiti topped $35 million earlier this week, and donors’ sudden willingness to use mobile phones for charitable contributions makes text-giving look like a promising way for pubcasting stations to raise money.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. WXPN in Philadelphia and KQED in San Francisco began experimenting with text-giving programs last year and had modest results.

‘XPN asked for text donations during its XPoNential Music Festival last July. “We didn’t make a lot of money, but we learned a ton about how to make it work,” said Melanie Coulson, a Development Exchange Inc. fundraising consultant who managed the project for WXPN. “I think events are a great way to do it.”

KQED tried two different approaches: on-air requests for text gifts during Earth Day programming and promotions over the month of April; and, more targeted, urgent appeals during its year-end fundraising campaign in December. “The results were dramatically improved, with almost four times as much money raised,” said Yoon Lee, KQED director of new media marketing, of the latter campaign.

Both Coulson and Lee will report on the projects on Monday, Feb. 8, during a webinar produced by DEI.