PBS will help stations convert social media followers to donors during March pledge

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PBS Development Services wants to help stations engage an untapped audience during March pledge drive by acquiring new donors via social media.

PBS will choose 10 to 12 stations to participate in a pilot March 4–19. Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, and participants will be notified by Friday.

Stations will work with Goodworld.me, a social fundraising platform that streamlines the process of making donations via Facebook and Twitter. The pilot is also expected to help station employees break out of their silos as they collaborate between digital fundraising and social media divisions.

Goodworld launched in 2015 and now works with more than 2,500 nonprofits, according to Rob Hayes, Goodworld’s director of partner success.

The PBS pilot will try to determine whether Goodworld can provide a new acquisition stream of microtransactions, said Chas Offutt, senior director of development services for PBS Development. The effort is meant to augment and enhance pledge rather than replace any current fundraising.

“It’s less about the actual gift that [users] make, but engagement as a whole,” Offutt said. “Can you drive excitement and fandom around engagement?”

Participating stations will post to Facebook and Twitter, asking followers to give by replying with a “#donate” hashtag. Respondents can also specify a gift amount, such as “#donate $25.”

The hashtag prompts an auto-reply from the station to confirm the donation and to provide a secure link to a mobile-optimized form, already populated with the donor’s name and email address.

Specific asks will range from $5 to $25. Stations will tie their pitches to shows that have proven popular on social media, including Hamilton, Nature, Nova, PBS NewsHour and Victoria.

The user’s payment information stays on file with the station and with Goodworld. If a user who has previously donated uses the #donate hashtag again in the future, they’ll be able to give without having to re-enter payment information.

“The audience feels like they’re interacting with you and your team, which is obviously a huge draw to the user experience,” Hayes said Thursday during a PBS Development Services webinar for stations. Users’ Facebook friends may see their donation comments, which could help organizations mine their followers’ networks, Hayes said.

  • Even here in Chile we want to support PBS for programs like the NewsHour. I’m watchin’ the program via USTREAM or in their YouTube channel every weeknight. The NewsHour Weekend is airin’ live every weekend on USTREAM only. My nephew Gabriel grews up with WGBH’s Curious George and Martha Speaks, and also he watched Dinosaur Train, Sid The Science Kid, WordWorld & Clifford (in their two series). PBS, of course, is the best choice in public television for kiddies. I will recommend that. #Donate to ‘GBH.