Current Online

Pledgers & members
Different folks want different strokes

Originally published in Current, March 26, 2001

Pledgers may give some of the biggest gifts to public TV, but most don't have a mindset that makes them reliable long-term members. "They choose not to renew because they 'don't get it' (in part because they are Boomers)," according to researchers David and Judith LeRoy of TRAC Media Services.

The study looks at the demographics and views of three groups:

The three pledge specials are: Suze Orman financial advice shows; DooWop specials; and Hearts of Glass, a documentary on an art glass manufacturer. Some selected findings:

People who... renewed by mail renewed through a pledge drive joined as pledgers for three specials cited above (Suze/ DooWop/Glass)
These pledgers are younger and less educated
Over 65 56% 47% 6/6/14%
Female 54% 67% 78/50/80%
College degree 60% 61% 44/32/44%
They have different program interests (not surprisingly, given genres of pledge shows)
Advice and self-help 4% 9% 16/14/12%
News and public affairs 26% 33% 12/18/16%
They're more comfortable with pledge drives, but few plan to renew
Don't view programs or breaks during pledge drives 21% 7% 1%
Do view programs and some breaks during drives 41% 60% 69%
Strongly agree that pledge drives are a fair price for quality programming 26% 50% 36/52/52%
Are tempted to pledge just to get premium 4% 15% 26/20/16%
Definitely plan to renew membership 74% 66% 12/24/22%
They see donations as a voluntary exchange, less often as a civic duty
"I give back to public TV what it gives to me" 54% 70% 48/63/56%
It's "my civic duty" to support public TV 34% 49% 14/32/36%
They are involved in their communities, though less than renewing members
Voted in local election 95% 95% 87%
Gave to charity 98% 95% 88%
Gave to political campaign 47% 45% 22%

The study, "In Search of the Transactional Pledger," was based on TRAC's survey of 400 renewed members and 150 pledgers in Sacramento, Calif., and Madison, Wis.

. To Current's home page
. Related article: Pledge woes and membership slippage on agenda of next PBS "summit."
. Outside link: TRAC Media Services.

Web page posted March 31, 2001
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Copyright 2001