KCUR’s current transmitter, antenna and its associated equipment were installed in 1992.It had reached the end of its useful life: it was outdated and difficult to maintain, costing the station thousands of dollars each year in utility costs and replacement parts. In the worst case, the transmitter could have unexpectedly failed, potentially causing KCUR’s broadcast signal to halt entirely.
It will cost approximately $500,000 to purchase, install and operationalize a new transmitter, not including ongoing maintenance costs and parts. While former general managers had grown KCUR’s endowment over 20 years to pay for this eventual expenditure, a local foundation (The Sunderland Foundation) that supports only capital projects became interested in the transmitter project.
The development team met with the foundation to request a $250,000 matching challenge grant. This grant was awarded within days of the meeting in May, enabling the team to immediately begin work on the components of a matching campaign, which launched on July 1, 2021.
We were determined to keep the campaign’s time frame short – just one month – infusing urgency into our efforts as we raised funds between already-scheduled membership campaigns. The cross-functional team leapt into action to create a nimble, very low cost, multi-pronged effort.
The four-week campaign included on-air pitching, digital and social media assets, direct mail to existing KCUR members, and fundraising proposals to other local foundations. Our graphic designer created compelling images to be placed across our website, in direct mail and email appeals, as well as on social media. The on-demand producer created entertaining short videos that played off of the year 1992 (when the transmitter was originally installed), which were featured on social media and in KCUR’s weekly newsletter each Tuesday, which we dubbed “Transmitter Tuesday.” Community members recorded a series of “early, mid, and late campaign” promos, which ran across all of our programming and highlighted the importance of the uninterrupted signal for our free service. Community Advisory Board members, the director of philanthropy and the general manager made personal calls to major donors. The membership team mailed more than 14,000 pieces of direct mail to members requesting an additional gift to support the campaign, and distributed digital newsletters throughout the month to those who had not yet made a gift to the campaign.