May CDP Index: 7.6% lift in high-dollar gifts powers revenue increases

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The Membership Revenue Index for the three-month period ending April 30 showed a 3% increase in Membership revenue compared to the same three-month period in 2023. As in the preceding report and for most of last year, revenue growth is being driven by high-dollar giving and supported by large sustainer populations. The High-dollar Gifts Index shows a 7.6% increase this period, and sustainers increased by 5.2% overall.

These two areas of fundraising continue to be pillars of strength and stability as new donors remain a challenge. The New Donor Index is showing a 16.1% decline, with all station types and sizes experiencing declines near or exceeding 15%. TV/Joint licensees had a new donor decline of 15.1% after periods of strong new donor growth since the launch of Passport. Passport acquisition had year-over-year declines in other CDP reporting, emphasizing the danger in over-reliance on one acquisition source. Radio, long leaning nearly entirely on pledge drives for new donor acquisition, is experiencing ongoing painful declines in new donors, exceeding 26% in this most recent period.

Despite new donor challenges, Radio experienced an increase of 2.4% in revenue in this three-month period compared to the same period last year. Gifts of $500 or more increased by a solid 7%. The share of all Radio donors currently giving $1,000 or more is at a high point of 2.7% with revenue share of 30.8%. Donors giving $1,000 or more have increased year-over-year in every month for at least the last five years.

This is true for TV/Joint Licensees as well. High-dollar gifts increased by 8% for these stations in the most recent report period, driving a 2.9% increase in Membership revenue. TV/Joint Licensees have also experienced growth in donors and revenue from giving at $1,000 or more for the last five years, often exceeding Radio’s high-end donor growth rates, narrowing the gap between TV and Radio in share of giving from this important donor group.  Currently, 1.4% of TV/Joint Licensee donors give at the high end, and 26% of all revenue is generated from giving at $1,000 or more.

In most prior review periods, smaller stations lagged their larger counterparts in high-dollar gift growth. For the last two report periods, however, this has not been the case. Small stations (less than 15,000 12-month donors) had a 7.3% increase in high-dollar gifts. Large stations had an 8.2% increase, and medium-sized stations (between 15,000 and 40,000 donors) had 6.8% growth in high-end gifts.

We will continue to monitor this trend and are encouraged by reports from stations of all sizes that they recognize the opportunity around high-end giving and that they plan to continue investing in these programs. Look for stations to continue investments in technology, data, engagement, shifts and/or increases in staffing and staff training, and planned giving.

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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