Matt MacDonald of PRX has an idea for funding pubcasting. “Public radio and television stations should collaborate and work together with Visa, Mastercard or American Express to create an nationally branded affinity public media credit card,” he writes in a blog post today (March 27), which is an extension of his recent session at IMA. “Each transaction made with that credit card would get rounded up to the nearest dollar and the card holder uses a website that allows them to determine how it gets allocated back out to participating stations, programs and producers.”
If there are 170 million people using public media each month, MacDonald writes, “then there are a large number of credit card transactions each day performed by public media consumers. With a coordinated effort could public radio and television stations switch 1 percent of their consumers over to using a public media branded card?” If so, and if that 1 percent of 170 million averaged one transaction daily with an average round-up of 52 cents, that could generate more than $322 million annually for the system, he notes.
Don’t do this !!!!! In 1987, as program director of WIBC-AM, the most-listened to radio station in Indiana at the time, we did an affinity credit card program / promotion and threw almost one million dollars into the promotion on-air and off-air. The net result was the placement of only 30 credit cards, a failed promotional effort and all of the negatives that accompany credit cards. To quote George Santayana from his 1905 “The Age of Reason”, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Please do not do this. It is not worth the time or the effort and I am surprised that any bank wants to be a part of this. – James E. Duvall, Indianapolis, IN
I’d be great to have you share your knowledge and expand more on why you think the program from 25 years ago failed. Those of us that haven’t attempted this but are thinking about alternative donation and transaction methods could definitely benefit from your hard learned lessons. It’s pretty clear that no one wants to end up with the experience that you describe.
I’m curious to know how the challenges that you encountered in 1987 might be different today and what alternative approaches you might try in 2012. One difference that I see in the approach that I was suggesting from your prior attempt, is that your ask was specific to a single station rather than what I was suggesting, which was a coordinated, system wide outreach and promotional effort across public radio and television stations.
Also, I described a number of other, newer transaction and payment methods and would be interested in reading your thoughts about how to widen the funnel and introduce more fringe listeners into the giving path.
The reason this is a bad idea is that your combining one industry with a very high public reputation (Public Broadcasting) with one that is perceived as predatory, had to be regulated to stop seducing our listeners’ college aged children to not get into debt and other lascivious activities.
Besides, people don’t base their credit card decisions first on a sponsoring organization. They base it on interest rate, bank reputation and other factors that put public service organizations low on the list.
It’s simply not worth the costs and effort that James cites. Otherwise we’d have already done it. It’s not a new idea. Just a bad one. Could you see the debate in Congress about funding? “Why are we giving $400+ million to those scoundrels in public broadcasting when they make millions getting Americans into Credit Card Debt by giving them double Coffee mugs if they charge their donation. I knew Big Bird and the Car Guys are part of the 1% and this proves it Mr. Speaker Keillor.”
Perhaps Suze Orman, who preaches the sins of credit cards on Public Television every few weeks, might weigh in here–after all she’s pushing her own card now.