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Part One of "Givers & Giving"

What Turns A Listener Into A Giver?

You do.

You turn listeners into givers by your programming choices.

That includes every programming element, from the content and presentation of your national and local shows, to your positioning statement and promos, right down to the attitudes of your on-air drives. Everything a listener hears determines his decision to give.

Virtually every facet of turning a listener into a giver is under your control.

Fact is, we’ve known this since 1985.  AUDIENCE 98 confirms with clarity what was first discovered by the Cheap 90 study, enhanced by AUDIENCE 88, and built into the Giving Path. And like any good study, it deepens our understanding even more.

What Did We Verify?

To become a giver a person has to listen first.

Obvious? Not necessarily. You don’t have to be a disaster victim to give to the Red Cross.

Next, that listener must rely on your service.

Speaking consistently to his interests and attitudes creates loyalty. He depends on your station for its news and entertainment. It validates his values and resonates with his cultural references. It’s part of the soundtrack of his existence.

Your station becomes integral to that listener’s life.

The more years spent listening, the greater the likelihood that listener is to give. But more important is whom he thinks pays your bills.

If he believes listeners pay the bills, he’s more likely to contribute. If she thinks government grants are limited, she’s more apt to give too.

If they perceive both realities – that listeners have a prime responsibility and that government support is minor – they move up yet another step in the giving path.

(The previous point is a refinement on AUDIENCE 88.)

And yes, those listeners must have money to spare.

But this is not rich people’s radio. Most gifts come from people whose annual income is modest to moderately upper middle class.

If you get to this point with a listener, what’s left is providing an opportunity to pledge. Here’s where the catalyst – the on-air pitch or direct mail piece – kicks in.

If you don’t get to this point, no fundraising technique on the planet can pick his pocket or her pocketbook.

What Did We Discover?

We learned most of this in 1985 and again in 1988. So what else is new in AUDIENCE 98?

We have a far better sense of what does not cause giving.

When predicting a listener’s decision to give, or when explaining a station’s fund drive success, elimination of what doesn’t matter clears the field of confusion over what does.

We also gained fresh insight into what makes a station "personally important" to a listener.

The relationship between a giver and a station may be rooted, in part, in a "sense of community." This concept – ripe for further study – reminds us that public service is our greatest strength and key to a financially stable future.

– Leslie Peters
– David Giovannoni
UDIENCE 98 Core Team

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Part One of this report – "Givers" – concerns what motivates a listener to give.  Part Two – "Giving" – identifies the levels of gift amount and advances ideas on how to encourage higher levels of giving.

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For More Information

Hyperlinks from the text whisk you to sidebars that examine key elements of public radio givers in more detail.

A Sense of Community suggests that the "personal importance" of a station in a listener’s life embodies a sense of citizenship in a virtual community of public radio listeners. Caveat Venditor (Seller Beware) melds our listeners’ sense of community with their deeply held values and casts serious ramifications for on-air pledge drives.

AUDIENCE 98 has sorted through many possible explanations for what might cause a listener to give to public radio. Our detective work into the personal traits of listeners that prove not to influence giving is retold in The Sign of a Giver. And our parallel inquiry into the types of stations that are most successful at turning listeners into givers is related in Why Stations Succeed (And Other Myths).

Previous studies have determined that fundraising efforts offer the catalyst, but the listener's relationship with programming is the cause of his or her support. Cause and Catalyst reminds us of this.

The survey upon which AUDIENCE 98 is founded does not include questions that directly address The Giving Path. However, the steps that turn a listener into a giver are highly similar and lead to useful insights. Some steps are more effective than others; their relative importance is outlined in Stairway to Given.


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Navigate the Report

arrow.gif (139 bytes)     Givers (Part One of "Givers and Giving")
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes)     A Sense of Community
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) Caveat Venditor
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) The Sign of a Giver
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) Why Stations Succeed (And Other Myths)
  Cause and Catalyst
  transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) The Giving Path
  Stairway to Given

Audience Research Analysis
Copyright ARA and CPB.  All rights reserved.
Revised: September 01, 2000 12:38 PM.