[Excerpt from: Toward a Vibrant, Sustainable WBAI (2014) - by Justice & Unity board members and other staff & listeners, in consultation with fundraising experts.]
This proposed plan, based on years of experience at Pacifica and other non-profits, has strong potential to bring in significant revenue within weeks. Its first phase can be completed within 60 days – some of which can bear fruit considerably earlier – followed by a second phase that will take 30 more days to complete (although some of the work will also continue beyond that, and will plant seeds for future relationships). The plan takes into account the very limited paid staff at WBAI, and anticipates additional involvement by trained volunteers. Those tasked with personal outreach to major donors should be experienced in fundraising and carefully chosen based on knowledge and skills.
*Funds will be spent on a pay-as-you-go basis: As a sufficient amount is raised for an activity (say, the first month’s fee for the fundraising/project-management consultant), that activity will begin.
Phase I Action Items - Within 60 Days
- Develop and implement plan
- Add direct donations portal to wbai.org
- Establish and implement dedicated WBAI Recovery and Sustainability Fund to finance
fundraising consultant and other costs of long-term planning and implementation
- Utilize 6 specially-trained volunteers for outreach to major donors, requesting donations for immediate fundraising efforts and launch of long-term sustainability plan.
- Before calls, send any unsent premiums
- Call donors with script – offer and carry out station tours & lunches
- Send thank-yous to those who donate again
- Meet with selected major donors to request bridge loans or loan guarantees.
- Seek bridge loans and loan guarantees from progressive foundations
- Apply to progressive foundations for emergency grant for sustainability consultant
- Seek/screen candidates for and, as funds allow, hire fundraising/project-management consultant
- Call pledgers of $150+ who have not fulfilled pledges and resolve any premium complaints
- Clean up donor list
- Prepare for and implement fund-appeal mailing/emailing, as funds allow.
Phase I Estimated total expenses: $7,250 – $8,400
Phase I Estimated total income: $33,750 - $36,250
Phase I Estimated net income: $26,500 - $27,850
Phase II Action Items - 60-90 days
- Continue calls to pledgers who have not fulfilled pledges
- Do outreach to progressive orgs re list swap
- Use proceeds of first phase to finance:
- sending fund-appeal mailing and donor event invitation to WBAI donors (all levels)
- sending fund-appeal mailing to swapped list
- expanding work of fundraising/project-management consultant
- Send email fund appeal with short video to WBAI donors and people on acquired lists
- Complete additional tours/lunches with donors, utilizing specially-trained volunteers
- Hold donor appreciation event for 120-150 people
Phase II Estimated total expenses: $32,690 - $35,690
Phase II Estimated total income: $64,700 - $106,100
Phase II Estimated net income: $32,010 - $70,410
Phase I + II Estimated net income: $58,510 - $98,260
Allocation of proceeds:
- For Recovery & Sustainability Fund: $27,010 - $31,060
- For general operations: $31,500 - $67,200
This focused outreach to major donors will be the beginning of building ongoing positive relationships. It will have significant long-term value far beyond the (substantial) dollar amounts of the initial donations.
Similarly, the efforts proposed here will produce a protocol for regular fund-appeal mailings both to WBAI’s donor lists and to external lists. There should be ongoing efforts to acquire new lists through additional swaps with progressive organizations, and mailings of increasing size after testing the viability of each list with a small “starter” mailing.
Based on best practices of Pacifica and other nonprofits, both forms of outreach/fundraising should be institutionalized three times annually. If this is done, WBAI will generate major additional ongoing funding streams.
Proposed Immediate Fundraising Plan:
Detailed Action Steps, Budget, and Goal Monitoring Document
Note: Several steps below are simultaneous, not sequential.
Phase I Action Steps - Within 60 days
- Develop implementation plan for 60- and 90-day efforts: Set goals and objectives, utilizing Goal Monitoring Document with week-by-week work plan (see template in appendix). Identify persons accountable for each part of plan. Develop script for conversations with major donors, including specific “asks” (such as hiring fundraising/project-management consultant and postage/printing for fund appeal). (2 weeks)
- Arrange for WBAI webmaster to add direct donations portal on wbai.org – separate from give2wbai.org – to make donations easier (requiring fewer clicks). (2 weeks)
- Implement WBAI Recovery and Sustainability Fund as separate internal account restricted for revenue-producing projects in this plan, as well as implementation of the Long-Term Sustainability Plan. The Fund will be strictly monitored, with a detailed accounting statement published every 90 days. (1 week)
- Generate list of major donors and send premiums to those who are owed them – or send donor a letter with date by which requested or substitute premium will be sent. (3 weeks)
- Recruit and train six carefully-chosen volunteers with fundraising experience to do outreach to major donors, with specific fundraising goals. (2 weeks)
- Call identified major donors (with script) – Start with highest donors, and work through lists as time allows. The approach:
- Thank them for their most recent donation
- Identify and resolve any unresolved premium issues
- Invite them to the station for a personal tour and lunch
- Invite them to a donor-appreciation event later in year
- If receptive but unable to meet in person:
- Let them know what WBAI’s specific needs are
- Ask for new donations earmarked to the Recovery and Sustainability Fund.
- Arrange donor visits to the station followed by lunch (2-3 visits per volunteer per week; total of 25 lunches); ask for donations and/or loans/loan guarantees. (3 weeks)
Estimated cost - $3,000 (for lunches)
- For selected major donors, arrange station visits and lunches to focus on requesting a bridge loan or loan guarantee to enable rapid hiring of fundraising/project-management consultant.
- Follow up on donor contacts with thank-you email or letter. Ensure that all promised premiums have been mailed to donors. (3 weeks)
- Work with volunteers to call $150+ pledgers within 2-4 months of invoice, seeking pledge fulfillment and resolving any premium complaints. Use script, checklist, and recordkeeping protocol. (ongoing)
- Seek, screen candidates for, and hire consultant (as funds become available) to coordinate emergency fundraising and begin planning and implementing long-term sustainability projects. (3 weeks)
Estimated cost: $4,000-$5,000 (one month, 20 hours/week, as funds become available)
- Meet with progressive foundations, banks, and/or credit unions seeking bridge loans or loan guarantees totaling $50,000-$100,000 for one year to cover expenses of WBAI Recovery and Sustainability Fund (with specific repayment plan based on current financial prospects). (3 weeks)
- Prepare and submit grant proposal for fundraising/project-management consultant ($25,000 as seed money – usually the maximum that foundation staff can approve without board review). (3 weeks)
- Clean up station’s donor list – use outside service such as melissadata.com to:
- compare against USPS’s NCOA (National Change of Address) and MCOA (Multisource Change of Address) lists, and update lists
- identify and eliminate duplicates
Estimated cost: $250-400 (depending on size of list submitted)
- Prepare for fund-appeal mailing/emailing (2 weeks) (see list of specific steps below)
- Begin contacting local and national progressive organizations to inquire about swapping mailing/email lists and ongoing relationships. (2 weeks)
Phase II Action Steps - 60-90 days
- Continue working with volunteers to call $150+ pledgers seeking pledge fulfillment. (ongoing)
- Continue contacting progressive organizations re: swapping lists. (2 weeks)
- Use proceeds of first 60 days of fundraising (or sooner as funds allow) to:
- print and mail fund-appeal letter and donor- appreciation event invitation to WBAI donors and acquired names (3 weeks; see appendix for specific steps). Proceeds to go to WBAI general operating account.
- $21,000 (postage, printing, and processing to 21,000 addressees @ $1)
b. expand work of fundraising/project-management consultant (4 weeks)
Estimated cost: $8,000-$10,000 (one month, 40 hours/week, as funds
3. Send out email appeal with video link to WBAI donors and acquired names. (1 week)
4. Complete 12 additional tours/lunches with donors. (4 weeks)
Estimated cost - $1,440
5. Plan and hold donor appreciation event (preceded by reception with prominent people
for $100 donation), with slide show and entertainment. Auction off donated items at
event. Proceeds to go to WBAI Recovery and Sustainability Fund.
- $500 (room rental)
- $750-$1,250 (food & drink for special reception)
- $1,000-$1,500 (food & drink for main event)
Specific Steps For Fund-appeal Mailing/Emailing
- Create plan for mailing appeal letters (using list broker or mailing house) and for sending email appeal with video link.
- Draft, review, and produce two fund-appeal letters (one for current WBAI donors, one for acquired names) and well-designed thank-you flyer with invitation to donor appreciation event.
- Draft, review, and produce fundraising appeals for email, Twitter, and Facebook (including photos and link to 1-2-minute YouTube video to be produced by volunteer).
- Identify list of all donors over past 2 years, but exclude those with undelivered premiums; determine timetable to mail their premiums. If funds are limited, cross-match overall list with available email addresses (under-$500 donors only) and send those appeals via email.
- Outreach to local and national progressive organizations re: list swapping and relationship-building:
- Ask producers to forward suggestions with contact information
- Check free lists of nonprofits at www.melissadata.com
- Begin calling/visiting nearby organizations about building ongoing relationship, starting with swapping mailing/email lists.
- Develop a follow-up plan targeting organizations elsewhere in tri-state area to seek potential relationships.
- Print and mail (using mailing house and/or list broker) fund-appeal letter and thank-you/event invitation to all WBAI donors over past two years, plus names obtained via swaps. (Note: For past national and local station mailings to longtime supporters, the return rate was 10%, with average gift of $50-60. Given the large number of WBAI members who are new, estimate 5-7% return rate for member lists, with average gift of $50-60. Return rate for swapped lists from progressive organizations has been similar.)
- If test mailing of 1,000 addresses drawn from progressive organization’s swapped list has a strong return, prepare for larger mailing to names on that list after Phase II.
- Three weeks after mailing, send out email appeal with video link to WBAI donors and
Estimated Budget: Immediate Fundraising Plan
("Pay as You Go")
(Note: Projected incomes are estimated ranges based on historical experiences at Pacifica.)
|Phase I - First 60 Days||Low Estimate||High Estimate|
|Grant for fundraising/project-management consultant||$25,000||$25,000|
|Major Donor Outreach|
|25 donations over phone – via credit card or check|
|25 donations during tours/lunches|
|(one month, 20 hours/week, if funds allow)|
|Personal visits and lunches||3,000||3,000|
|(25 @ $60 x 2 people per lunch)|
|Mailing list clean up||250||400|
|Phase I Net||$26,500||$27,850|
|Phase II - 61-90 Days||Low Estimate||High Estimate|
|Major Donor Outreach|
12 donations over phone – via credit card or
check @ $100-$150
|12 donations during tours/lunches|
|Donations from mailings|
|From WBAI list – 20,000 letters @ 5-7% @ $50-60||50,000||84,000|
From progressive org - 1,000 letters
@ 5-7% @ $50-60
|Donations at/after donor appreciation event|
|Special reception – 40-50 @ $100||4,000||5,000|
|Main event – no charge, but silent auction|
|& follow-up calls – 80-100 @ $50-$75||4,000||7,500|
|Fundraising/project management consultant||8,000||10,000|
|(one month, 40 hours/week, if funds allow)|
Fund Appeal Mailings (printing, processing and
To WBAI’s last-2-year-donor list
(20,000 letters @ $1)
|To progressive org's list (1,000 letters @ $1)||1,000||1,000|
|Lunches with major doors||1,440||1,440|
|(12 @ $60 for 2 people)|
|Phase II - 61-90 Days||Low Estimate||High Estimate|
|Donor appreciation event|
Food & drink for special reception
(50 people @ $15-25)
Food & drink for main event
(100 people @ $10-$15)
|Phase II Net||$32,010||$70,410|
|Phase I + II Net||$58,510||$98,260|
Plan for a Vibrant, Sustainable WBAI
In 2013, Pacifica's then-interim Executive Director, an ally of Indy Caucus/ACE, solicited a mainly-music NJ radio station -- with a strongly pro-Israeli occupation morning show -- to lease WBAI’s airwaves. In 2014, a new Pacifica National Board, allied with Justice & Unity, halted that process and directed the WBAI board and management to create a plan to sustain our station.
Justice & Unity worked with colleagues to gather ideas from listeners, staff, and progressive media and fundraising experts. The result was a plan (click HERE) with short- and long-term proposals for improving fundraising, expanding audience and membership, leveraging technology, and engaging youth.
The Indy Caucus/ACE local board majority’s response to being given an opportunity to save our station was to vote against sending to the National Board even the compilation of proposals created from our plan and others.
Make us the majority. We will push and work with management to implement many of these ideas to strengthen WBAI now and for the long term.
- Use direct mail: contact lapsed members & borrow mailing lists of progressive organizations
- Use modern technology: make it easy to listen & donate; promote live, archived, & future segments via social media
- Facilitate gifts of cash, stocks & bonds, annuities, bequests, and corporate matches
- Expand membership: do in-reach to unions, progressive organizations & paper & web publications
- Change pitching approach: integrate and create teams, offer information – not consumable products
- Connect with schools. “Everyone” is here!
- Find a permanent, professional Development Director to focus on off-air fundraising.
Together, we can deliver a strong future for this irreplaceable voice!
Toward a Vibrant, Sustainable WBAI
A Work-in-Progress Report (April 2014)
By a group including Justice & Unity LSB members John Brinkley, William Heerwagen, Bob Lederer, John Riley, Cerene Roberts, and Sharonne Salaam, and former Pacifica National Board member Nia Bediako and WBAI producer Mimi Rosenberg, with input from progressive media scholars and a variety of present and former WBAI and Pacifica personnel.
“These are difficult times, but WBAI really can be more of a force again.”
For years, many WBAI paid and unpaid staff, managers, volunteers, board members, and listeners have made suggestions and lists of tools to expand fundraising and build listenership. But while some useful projects have been carried out, the station has yet to embark on a comprehensive effort to change its fundamental business model, which needs serious repair. This entails re-examining not only the station’s on-air and off-air funding methods, but also its strategies (or lack thereof) for marketing and promotion and – in a rapidly changing technological world – provide digital access to its rich programs across multiple platforms.
There’s also been little fundamental dialogue about how WBAI sees its mission in 2014, and how it distinguishes itself from public radio/TV and liberal media. This would include, among others, questions of:
- how to serve the general listening area while addressing the specific needs of communities (defined by ethnicity, class, immigration status, language, geography, and other factors) that are underserved and/or disenfranchised
- how to involve young people in a serious way, and
- how the station can restore a sense of community connectedness that many view as necessary for its survival.
Mimi Rosenberg suggested that one important way to jumpstart these conversations would be to interview experienced media professionals and scholars – including present and former WBAI staff as well as professionals and academics from outside institutions – who might offer some fresh insights. In addition, we combed previous reports recommending various stabilizing strategies for WBAI and Pacifica, and relevant articles from research institutes, trade publications and websites serving public radio. This report is a contribution to starting the dialogue.
The full report proposing short-term and long-term sustainability plans for WBAI can be downloaded in
PDF format HERE, or clicking on the image of title directly below.
Click on Readmore to read text
“I listen to radio – but not always on the radio.”
Justice & Unity Platform
Justice & Unity:
* Supports activist programming, especially by and for communities of color and youth.
Note: The LSB approves WBAI's budget; recommends/reviews General Manager & Program Director; does community needs assessment; and elects reps to Pacifica National Board that governs the network.
VOTE for the WBAI
JUSTICE & UNITY SLATE
* Make WBAI an organizing hub for the tri-state area. NY, NJ, CT, L.I., Westchester & Rockland peace and justice groups must build a powerful mass movement.
* Harness WBAI programming, the Internet and video to expand WBAI's global reach, with partners like the Independent Media Centers, and raise funds for a new WBAI space including a hi-tech multimedia community center.
* Include in programming and governance diverse peoples of color; Indigenous peoples; undocumented, immigrant, and rank-and-file workers; the unemployed; the poor; women; lesbians/gay men/bisexuals/transgendered people; people in prison; people with disabilities; youth and elders. These communities make up the vast majority of the listening area. To accomplish these goals, we stand for the following policies:
1. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION at every level of Pacifica through bylaws amendments and policies * Pacifica-wide training to overcome racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-disability discrimination * redress gender imbalance in programming and staffing* radio training courses and on-air placement prioritizing people from disenfranchised groups, especially youth * Full access for people with disabilities to all station events and meetings
2. PROGRAMMING * bring in listeners from diverse communities
3. DEMOCRACY, TRANSPARENCY & LOCAL DECISION-MAKING. * Full disclosure of station and network budgets and policies * Fair treatment of paid and unpaid staff * Network-wide recognition of unions * Local decision-making by stations that fulfill the Pacifica mission * No top-down processes, unjustified closed meetings, and small-group decision-making by Pacifica National Board * Full public participation in local and national board meetings. * Simplified democratic process for amending the bylaws * A national mechansim to review diversity, democracy and accountability.
4. FUNDRAISING. * Get broad community input to work with management and staff on innovative strategies for on- and off-air funding * No corporate underwriting * No on-air commercial promotion
PLATFORM OF THE
Excerpts from the Pacifica Mission Statement, Articles of Incorporation, 1946:
* to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community
We of the WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign are listeners and staff who believe that the urgent mission of WBAI and Pacifica must be to broadcast the facts, ideas, art, culture and dialogue that will inspire people to work for world peace and an end to worker exploitation, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-disability discrimination, religious bigotry, age-ism, and other injustices.
We are organizers, workers, professionals, and students from the many constituencies reflected in the rich tapestry of the WBAI community. We work daily on a wide range of social justice issues and movements, both local and global. Many of us fought successfully, along with thousands of others, to take WBAI and Pacifica back from the corporatist forces that seized our precious media institution in the late 90’s. Now, we struggle to correct flaws resulting from misuse and manipulation of the new bylaws instituted in 2003.
We envision WBAI as a progressive educational and organizing hub for the entire tri-state area, including all five boroughs of New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland and Connecticut. Particularly at this time of aggressive U.S. wars and assaults on civil liberties, there is an urgent need for peace and justice groups to build a powerful mass movement. We believe that the Local Station Board should influence and support the daily work of WBAI to fully reflect these issues in its programming. We also want to see the harnessing of computer technologies, the Internet and video to expand WBAI's global reach and eventually transform the station into an international media center in partnership with other progressive outlets such as Independent Media Centers.
The New York City area is bursting with talented thinkers, writers, journalists, laborers, teachers, organizers, musicians, poets, filmmakers, playwrights, actors, scientists, and healers from diverse communities who want to create a more just and peaceful society. We especially want to expand the access WBAI provides (including by producing, recording, and reporting) to people from historically and newly oppressed and disenfranchised communities--including, for example, diverse peoples of color, Indigenous peoples, undocumented workers and other immigrants, rank-and-file workers, the unemployed, the poor, women, lesbians/gay men/bisexuals/transgendered people, people in prison, people with disabilities, youth and older people. One way to grow our treasury is to build our listenership and membership by offering quality programming produced by and serving a large range of communities, neighborhoods and regions.
We believe that genuine participatory democracy at WBAI and Pacifica requires direct involvement in decision-making by members of these communities, which constitute the vast majority of the people in the tri-state listening area.
To accomplish these goals, we stand for the following policies:
1. Affirmative Action and Outreach. Effective affirmative action programs must be established at every level of Pacifica through bylaws amendments and policies covering board and committee compositions, staffing, training and programming, to provide for the broad inclusion of disenfranchised groups reflecting the signal area's demographics. We support Pacifica-wide training on overcoming racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-disability discrimination. One of several pressing priorities is redressing the gender imbalance in programming and staffing. The Local Station Board should help establish a comprehensive outreach strategy that complements WBAI's efforts to build bridges and partnerships with the listening area's many progressive institutions and movements. We advocate comprehensive radio training courses and on-air placement of graduates to bring in new energies and talents, prioritizing people from disenfranchised groups, especially youth. We support requiring full access for people with disabilities to all station events and meetings.
2. Programming. We support the development, in consultation with the WBAI staff, of changes in the programming decision-making structure that will increase involvement of listeners from diverse communities. We will carry out a thorough listener survey and broad community outreach to gather feedback and evaluations of WBAI's existing programming and to assess unmet needs. Based on analysis of this data, we will encourage the station to remedy gaps in programming for particular populations, issues and cultural expressions.
3. Democracy, Transparency and Local Decision-making. Democracy and transparency must be practiced at every level of the Pacifica Foundation. We support full disclosure of information on station and network budgets and policies. In addition, we call for fair treatment of paid and unpaid staff, network-wide recognition of unions, and respect for collective bargaining agreements. We believe that the national office has a legitimate role to provide administrative and fundraising support and to help develop national programming based on local needs and direction. But we oppose interference by that office in the local distinctiveness and decision-making of each Pacifica station that is fulfilling the network's mission. And we will fight against top-down processes, unjustified closed meetings, and small-group decision-making by the Pacifica National Board, which are unacceptable violations of the by-laws. We will insist on the right to active public participation in local and national board meetings. We support a simplified democratic process for amending the bylaws. We call for a national Pacifica mechanism to especially re-examine issues of diversity, democracy and accountability.
4. Fundraising. We believe that a primary part of the Local Station Board's mission is to assist WBAI in the hard work of fundraising -- particularly during financial crises. We will seek broad community input to work with station management and staff on innovative strategies for both on-air and off-air funding. We will protect Pacifica's longstanding tradition of rejecting corporate underwriting and keeping our airwaves free of commercial promotion.
We are committed to an ongoing network-wide dialogue by the entire Pacifica community aimed at forging a common vision and a long-term plan of action on these and other issues.
JOIN THE WBAI JUSTICE & UNITY CAMPAIGN
WBAI Can Thrive: Planned Financial Stability and Growth
Working with staff and listeners:
- Mount a capital campaign and pursue city building grants/loans to buy our own home, perhaps with like-minded organizations.
- Build a team to review the premiums process and modernize delivery by adding e-books and Pacifica-created downloadable CDs.
- Lead robust off-air fundraising, with organizational collaborations, awards dinners, concerts, planned giving.
- Through revitalized committees, recruit listeners via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, “town hall” events, palm cards, and more.
- Expand online audio and video distribution and archiving of WBAI programs/segments.
- Expand WBAI programming and reach via sideband, HD radio, multiple Internet streams, translator signals, and cable TV.
- Create Pacifica record label to raise money and showcase progressive cultural workers.