June CDP Index: In this environment, flat is good

Print More

Median Membership Revenue for the three-month period from March through May was essentially flat (up 0.1%) year over year. Many would argue that flat is good in this fundraising environment, and we don’t disagree. These numbers will become increasingly interesting next month as we report on the April – June period, the last quarter of the fiscal year for many stations. This month’s results reflect the performance of 175 Public Media TV, Radio and Joint stations of varied size, providing a solid representative benchmark against which individual stations can compare their own performance.  

Median performance among the 66 Radio stations in the Index shows a slight increase of 0.7% for the period, with TV/Joint stations, 109 in total, showing a median increase of 0.3%. In fact, declines were reported only by medium-sized stations, which make up about 27% of the stations in the Index, showing a 1.4% median decrease for the 3-month period.

Separate research at CDP found that May was a particularly strong month for fundraising when looking at month-over-month gains, suggesting that focused efforts, like Public Media Giving Days, may have resulted in higher levels of donor engagement and generosity for the period.

After two consecutive periods of modest growth, the New Donor Index is trending lower, down 0.7% for the 3-month period ending in May. Most of the current period’s modest decline appears to be driven by a 4.8% median decrease in new donor acquisition at Large stations. Both Small and Medium stations are up, 4.4% and 3.9% respectively, indicating some relative strength in acquisition. However, these gains are not equitable across the system, as Radio stations, down 5.3%, continue to struggle in their efforts to add new donors. 

Sustainer giving, up 6.5% for the period, was particularly strong among TV and Joint stations, where an 8.8% median increase was reported. Donors with sustaining gifts at Radio stations have remained relatively flat, down 0.1% for the period. Attracting new donors as sustainers, using channels like Passport and digital acquisition, appear to have contributed to the strong sustainer numbers, along with investing in campaigns aimed at encouraging one-time donors to convert to monthly giving.

Passport viewing, measured as the count of unique viewers streaming at least once during the period, continues to show solid growth, up 12.4% for the period. However, looking at the 12-month trending data, we find that unique Passport viewership has been trending lower for the last nine reporting periods. This is certain to present challenges in the coming fiscal year as TV and Joint stations attempt to maximize acquisition and retention levels. CDP research has shown that Passport acquisition has become a dominant channel among many TV/Joint stations, and there is a clear correlation between Passport viewing engagement and member retention. All this suggests continued investment in marketing strategy around this lucrative engagement channel.

The High Dollar Index, which was flat, continues to reflect a degree of variability around station efforts to attract $500+ gifts in an increasingly competitive fundraising environment vying for higher gift amounts. Only Small stations, up 5.6%, reported gains for the 3-month period ending in May, with Medium stations showing flat results and Large stations reporting a median decrease of 1.6%. 

This monthly report on the fundraising performance of public media stations is provided through an editorial collaboration between Current and Contributor Development Partnership (CDP). The collaboration draws from CDP’s National Reference File, which collects monthly membership and revenue data from more than 170 public media stations. (Read more about the methodology.)

Michal Heiplik is president and a co-founder of the Contributor Development Partnership, a Boston-based public benefit corporation that provides fundraising solutions, marketing strategies, technology innovations and data and analytics services to more than 230 public radio and television stations. As a 20-year veteran of public broadcasting development, he has extensive experience in database management, membership development and identifying effective fundraising practices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *