Classical 90.5 WSMC held its “on-air member drive” in mid-October as part of its fall fundraiser.
The radio station raised about $30,000 of its $40,000 goal during the five-day fundraiser.
According to WSMC General Manager Scott Kornblum, fundraising goals vary each time depending on a few factors. Mostly, goals are set based on total costs for the year and future equipment upgrades.
He said, WSMC “only asks listeners for what [it] really [needs],” which is why fundraising goals vary each time.
“We’ve had member drives of $75,000 at times,” Kornblum said . “And sometimes the goals are considerably lower.”
Although the radio station’s goals were not met during the month of October, November and December are usually the months when people make their end-of-year donations, according to Kornblum.
To target listeners and donors, WSMC typically sends letters to consistent contributors. The station also usually meets with some “donors who want to make a financial difference” in order to develop a giving program that meets their priorities, Kornblum said.
The member drive has been WSMC’s tradition since the birth of the radio station in 1961, and it has been held twice a year—once during the spring and once during the fall.
According to Kornblum, like many other radio stations, WSMC has several guidelines when it comes to ethics, which include honest communication, transparency and a donor-centric mindset. He said those guidelines are essential to all of WSMC’s fundraisers, and they might be paired with a social media campaign or a challenge gift from a supporting business.
As a nonprofit radio station, WSMC depends on donations and offerings from its listeners in order to operate.
“Public radio stations use a different business model [than commercial radio stations],” Kornblum said. “The ‘public’ in public radio means our community—listeners—who keep us on the air; and [they] are who we serve.”
Kornblum said this year was particularly hard for the radio station due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the donating families.
“While some listeners may have been unable to give at previous levels, they have also expressed tremendous appreciation for what WSMC has done for them during this time,” Kornblum said. “WSMC has been a source of inspiration, strength and hope during a time that many other media outlets bombarded them with information that created anxiety.”