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NPR Year-End Digital Fundraising Campaign

September 15, 2022 at 4:40 PM

In an effort to let you and your teams know as much as possible about where NPR’s digital fundraising campaigns are headed through the end of the calendar year, I’m sharing a working draft of our planning for year-end fundraising. We will be sending a more detailed note to a broader group of station leaders in October, but in the meantime we wanted to get some of the tactical details into your hands, to help with your own planning.

For information about the Fall Digital Fundraising campaign we are executing now, please see this previous announcement. For more complete information about the NPR Network overall, including the NPR Network donation option, please click here.

NPR Digital Fundraising 2022 Year-End Campaign

From November 9-December 31, NPR will urge NPR digital users to support the reporting, storytelling and outlets for creative expression that NPR and NPR stations provide. As in previous years, this campaign will encourage people to donate to local stations. In addition, we will offer donors the option to support the NPR Network as a whole. This option is intended to create a pathway to membership for people who do not yet have a relationship with a local station.

Digital Fundraising Kit

NPR will make any digital assets it creates available for stations to customize in editable form. Stations should expect to receive that kit in mid-October. These resources will use similar themes and messages as the on-air fundraising feed offered by NPR’s Programming team. If you have questions about broadcast materials, Tayla Burney is the best resource. Her email is tburney@npr.org.

Expanded Timeline

Knowing that we typically see an increase in audience during national elections, we are starting the year-end campaign earlier than usual. The first few weeks of the campaign will focus on news and politics. The campaign will expand to include more typical year-end language on Giving Tuesday.

Active NPR user channels include: NPR.org, NPR One, e-newsletters, NPR app, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, select NPR podcasts, and more. We will also invest advertising dollars on social media.

Email Calendar

I have heard from some Member station staff that they wish to avoid sending solicitation emails on the same dates that we do. To help make this possible, NPR will avoid sending standalone email appeals to digital users on set days each week during the campaign (I.E, no sends on Wednesdays, Saturdays). If you have requests for which days you would like us to leave open, please thread them in the comments below and we’ll announce a decision in early October.

Campaign Theme: “It Takes All of Us.”

NPR’s Audience Insights team surfaced two main insights that will inform our case messaging. The first is that NPR’s digital users need to know that their donation makes a real difference. Second, that our independence and commitment to serving the public – and not the powerful – were the most compelling case messages to NPR’s digital users. Expect “independent” and “the people’s interest” to be key messages we live test.

NPR’s Marketing Team developed a theme for the NPR Network brand at-large: “It takes all of us.” Looked at from one perspective, this reflects NPR and Member stations’ collective commitment to amplifying the truth and lifting up the full breadth and depth of perspectives and cultural expression across America. From the fundraising perspective, “us” can also be used to capture the spirit of grassroots support that has always made public radio vibrant. We will use this line as the overarching theme of the year-end digital fundraising campaign, weaving in visual components from the NPR Network brand.

NPR Network Donation

We expect to begin offering the NPR Network donation option beginning in late October or early November. Draft wireframes of how this will look at launch are in usability testing and we will share them soon. Our overall approach prioritizes securing station support, since station support is our ultimate goal.

Next: We will announce details about how to participate in the Donor Look Up process in a few weeks. Participating is an optional step that helps prevent a station’s existing donors from being passed [as leads] to other stations in their market. The first “match” will not take place until early 2023.

After that: Details about NPR’s onboarding journey for NPR Network supporters, along with recommendations and resources for what you might do to cultivate the leads your station receives, will be available in November 2022.

Calls to Action

Most of our calls to action will not refer to gift “destination” (giving to the NPR Network and/or a station). As we learn more about how users interact with the destination options on the form, we will revisit and test to optimize results. In practice, this means most users will be asked to “donate” and not “donate to _____.”

For broadcast, you may notice a growing number of references to ‘the NPR Network’ in audio spots, but the case will still focus on your station. As they long have, all broadcast audio spots will end with a hand off setting up your staff to ask for a direct donation to your station.