November CDP Index: New donors increase, but growth misses radio

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Mike Janssen, created with DALL-E 3

For the sixth consecutive period since May, the Public Media Index, the preeminent benchmark in public media fundraising, continues to show revenue growth. Membership revenue increased 2.5% for the three-month period ending in October compared to the same three-month period in 2022. Year-over-year increases for the August–October period were strongest among medium-sized stations (stations with 15,000–40,000 donors in the last 12 months), up 3.6%, followed by large stations up 2.3% and small-sized stations up 0.7%.

The 2.5% increase in revenue is a cooling off from growth rates in the last three report periods that ranged from 3.5% to 4.7%. Additionally, data from 170 TV, Radio and Joint licensee stations over a 12-month comparison period shows a more modest 2.1% increase in revenue. For Radio stations, up 1.2% in the August–October period, the 12-month comparison shows a nearly flat 0.6% increase in revenue. TV/Joint stations showed a median revenue increase of 3.8% in this most recent three-month period, but 2.5% growth in the 12-month comparison. These are trends to watch closely in the closing months of the year.

An encouraging figure is growth in the New Donor Index, an area that has presented challenges throughout the year. New donors increased by 5.1% in this most recent three-month period compared to the same three-month period in 2022. However, TV/Joint licensees drove that change, up by an impressive 9.1% for the three-month period and 3.1% for the 12-month period. Similarly, all size groups in the New Donor Index report positive numbers, with large, medium and small stations showing increases of 4.2%, 6.0% and 6.5%, respectively. Radio stations are down 11.6% in a consistent and concerning downward trend, in line with listening trends. 

Sustainer giving, up 5.6% for the August–October period, remains particularly strong among TV and Joint stations, up 9% compared to Radio stations, which reported no change. Clearly, new donor acquisition is impacting sustainer growth for Radio stations, which are now just maintaining their sustainer volumes. Notably, growth is stronger among small and medium-sized stations, up 9.1% and 9%, compared to large stations, up 2.7%.

Passport viewing, measured as the count of unique viewers streaming at least once during the period, continues to show growth, up 4.3% for the period. While positive, it should be noted that we have seen a negative trend in this growth that began earlier in the year. This three-month period showed variance in growth by station size, ranging from 3.6–5.6%.

The High Dollar Index, measuring year-over-year change for gifts of $500 or more, is up 3.5% and appears to be contributing to the positive results in the broader Membership Revenue Index. Much like the broader Index, the High Dollar Index is showing positive results for six consecutive periods. The current results reflect positive increases in high-dollar gifts for both TV/Joint, up 3.8%, and Radio, up 2.2%.

Results are more varied when we examine stations by size. Here we find large stations up 5.5% for the three-month period ending in October and medium-sized stations up by 3.5%. Small-station results are down by 3.4% for the period, suggesting challenges in attracting higher gift amounts. If the broader Membership Revenue Index is to stay positive, stations must continue to attract higher giving amounts as we near the end of the calendar year.

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.)

Deb Ashmore joined CDP as Analytics Strategist in September 2023. With more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and public media fundraising, she is passionate about working to help clients understand their fundraising data to inform strategies for long-term file health and growth. Her previous public media experience includes 10 years as director of individual giving for WXPN in Philadelphia.

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