Over the past several years, WDAV has considered the idea of a ”give back” initiative related to our fundraising efforts, but nothing ever got any traction because it was either too exclusive, too expensive, or not directly related to our musical mission.
WDAV has recently become more focused on community impact and engagement and the idea of providing easy access to classical music to underserved populations has, once again, come to the forefront. In February 2018, we came up with the concept of enabling our donors to “donate forward” when they make a gift, instead of receiving a membership benefit. Some donors don’t want or need another CD, coffee mug, or baseball cap, but we felt confident that, given the opportunity, many of them would like to use their donation not only to help WDAV, but to further the mission of classical music beyond the walls of the station.
It was important to both our mission and our recent focus on community that we develop something with an educational component. One of our staff had a daughter in 5th grade who was beginning her musical studies in school with a recorder. The light bulb went off: Every elementary school student in our community needs a recorder, but despite their low price tag, many families cannot afford them. After doing some research and talking to a few local school systems, we found that Parent-Teacher Organizations, local school budgets, and sometimes even individual teachers, often have to pick up the tab for recorders when families aren’t able to make the purchase. When we realized that we could marry a genuine need in our community with our calling to make music easily accessible to all, there was no question about whether or not we would do it.
After meeting with the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System (CMS), they were on board with our proposal of putting recorders in the hands of children who needed them, helping to enhance their musical education experience without the financial burden. CMS provided the make and model of the recorder the schools were currently using in music class. They cost roughly $3 per recorder. We had WDAV branded buttons made into zipper pulls and attached them to the zipper on the recorder case.
During our on air fundraising campaigns, we include the “Donate a Recorder” option as a benefit at the $100 level, as well as in renewal mailings. After the first year of offering this incentive, we increased the level at which this was available from $80 to $100. We are able each year to promote the initiative over the air and on social media on “National Recorder Day” during Music in our Schools Month, which is March.
Once a year, we deliver the recorders to either the school district or a specific class that needs them. We have been able to take picture of the students with their new recorders, received testimonials from music teachers, and we”ve had music teachers call us requesting recorders for their classes.