As has been surveyed and documented in the past, reporting structures are all over the map with station managers reporting to Deans, Marketing Departments, Chancellors, CFO’s, Provosts and Presidents.

For the best outcome, stations need to report to an outfacing department/office – someone who knows the importance of the community as a whole, not just the student body.

This is not to say that stations aren’t involved with academics and with campus activities. Some great examples of involvement included stations that:

  • Invite various departments to tour the station, in a private event, visit behind the scenes, see what public media is all about, build relationships, and explore opportunities. It is especially effective during pledge drives.
  • Make friends with counterparts in the foundation and various departments so that you know each other and what the needs/issues are.
  • Using federal work/study students and providing internships gets the attention of the administration – collaboration between academics and real-life job skills.
  • The corporate support manager at a station started meeting regularly with other department fundraisers. Now they develop proposals and call on prospects together with a united approach.
  • University-based staff/faculty giving to the station is strong on many campuses.

Issues remain. Large issues and small issues. Some based on policy, others on personality. Stations identified issues and also talked about solutions

  • One manager realized that most issues come from the “main” campus, not the local campus where the station is located.
  • One university was poaching station major donors to attempt to get big university gifts, without much success while another station works collaboratively with advancement and the dedicate major gifts officer that raises gifts for the station only, and generated half a million dollars in six months.
  • Another lamented the fact that foundations are sometimes so protective they make dumb development decisions – it is a given in philanthropy circles that the PRIMARY beneficiary (in this case, the radio/tv station) manages the relationship because that assures that information/data is handled in a timely way and donors receive timely recognition and thanks, which are essential to stewardship.

Describing day-to-day operations as a Hellscape of one kind or another, participants identified an array of frustrating issues including:

  • Not allowed to have a separate checking account which resulted in gifts from foundations, corporations and even major donors get deposited in random accounts and the station has to go looking for them once they find out from the donor that the check was sent weeks previously.
  • Not allowed to have a separate 501(c)3 or friends group which means station can’t fundraise effectively on Facebook, or qualify for numerous grants because it’s EIN# is the same as the universities and some entities only allow one application per EIN.
  • Not allowed to process ACH payments for sustainers – primarily because foundation doesn’t want to process individual gifts – suggested that station investigate PAYA so that ACH can be batch processed.
  • Indirect cost rates are all over the map – and many stations are being assessed fees for services they never receive.
  • Position Approval Process is a Nightmare – even existing positions that need to be filled have to go through a lengthy approval process, holding up hiring for a new Morning Edition announcer for months! Getting any new position approved is a nightmare.
  • Station not allowed to post on Facebook or to generate its own web pages – the university has to do all the posting and the station is neither a priority nor understood.
  • Gifts often get bogged down in processing at Foundation – sometimes it takes weeks to learn that a major donor has made a gift. One suggestion was to find out what other departments do to get timely information. Another was to run reports through the foundation CRM to get up-to-date information.
  • Stations not allowed to do sweepstakes – at all, or the legal department holds it up forever before approval.
  • Many not allowed to maintain a separate CRM– university wants all data in one central db, but they aren’t set up to deal with pledge drives, volume, or the kind of reporting we need.
    • Those who do have separate databases must coordinate with foundation db, sometimes to an onerous level
    • Duplicate data entry is often required when in reality, the station could download/upload the data required by the university without the unnecessary, and time consuming double entry.

In a brief discussion NPR Bundle and STRIPE issues, stations noted that to date:

  • There is no data on cost benefit analysis for mid/small stations
  • Music stations have no place in NPR Network
  • Will the work to get the university to adopt STRIPE have any return on investment?
  • Key issues universities have with the STRIPE contract itself are the
  • Indemnification clause
  • Requirement for a social security # for contract to be approved
    • STRIPE was originally designed for individuals to use, not corporations/organizations. The social security number requirement seems to be a hold over but they still require it and most universities refuse.

The group discussed firewall issues briefly noting that pressure can come from the administration, departments, and even university donors.

In light of the robust discussions and problem solving that occurred at these sessions, watch for upcoming Cohort Discussions online – they’ll be scheduled regularly.