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« Step lively, you wretches ... | Main | Time to Change the Blog Picture's Motto? (Sujatha) »

December 08, 2011


I'm still waiting for the umpteenth copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Recipes ( I already have about 4 of those.), and the Time duffel bag (in return for renewal of the subscription.)
Those freebies, I don't mind, since it is part of a business relationship. I feel a little more weird when a non-profit or charity sends me stuff, I usually check the 'No gift' option for such.To me,it makes the thrill of giving just that little less.
But so far, the most welcome freebie of all has been the box of 6 CFLs that came to us from the electric company- they are trying to promote responsible use of electricity.
Enjoy your umbrella when it comes, Ruchira. It does sound like a lovely item to have!

"I usually check the 'No gift' option for such.To me,it makes the thrill of giving just that little less."

That is exactly how I feel. I even put a first class stamp on return envelopes which say "No postage necessary when mailed within the United States" to save the charity the cost of postage. When I opt for a gift, I always add the cost of the gift over and above the amount I meant to give. So I am conscientious. That way I feel that the "gift" is not coming out of my contribution. I did the same with the NPR gift - added an extra $10.

@ Ruchira:

I feel your pain. Even better, I have come to find out how fast and loose some radiothons can play with gift inducements. Several years ago, while driving, I was solicited for a contribution from one of my usual listener sponsored public radio stations. You know, the ones with classical, jazz, and folk music; interesting interviews (most of the time); news reports that weren't perfect, but one hundred times more accurate and substantive than on commercial programs; and programming of 'alternative' views on medicine, politics, history, food, current events, and the cosmos (half of it wacky, but worth sifting through for the real gems.)

For a $50 donation I could receive gift A. For a $100 donation I would receive an even better gift B. Today, I do not remember what A and B were, except that I liked both A and B. I usually switch to another radio station, but the few public radio stations are all having their fund raising drives at the same time. Besides, after the current segment of pleas for cash, they were going to play some great music for about 40 minutes before returning to the carny barkers, chastisers, voices of reason, and guilt dispensers who wanted my money. The segment host was terribly dismayed that he wouldn't reach - no, WE wouldn't reach - his allotted goal with only minutes to go before his watch ended. He was getting desperate. "To hell with the rules!," he shouted. "I am making the executive decision to offer both gift premiums to those who donate $100 dollars before we close, in the next 12 minutes." Someone in the studio, apparently, was yelling at him that he can't change the gift premiums. He let us listeners know that he was not going to be deterred. "My producer is shouting at me and saying I can't offer both premiums. Well, the hell with my producer!"

I couldn't pass up this great offer. Still driving, I called on my cell phone and made my pledge. In a few minutes I was going to hit a predictable 'dead zone' and lose the connection. I was as desperate as the host. Success!!! They get my donation, and I get a real bargain on the premiums, both of which I lusted for.

Later that year, I was, again, in my car and driving to my long standing weekly meeting. Yes, I was listening to another fund raising program for the same station. There is a fundraiser for each season of the calendar. I realized that I never received my premiums from the last fundraiser. I called the number that was repeated 28 times every 30 seconds. I explained to the volunteer that I did not receive my gifts after donating $100 only a few months ago. I made him take my name, phone number, address, my donation history, etc. I asked him to give this information to the producer and ask them to send my premiums. The puzzled, but polite, volunteer agreed to do so. I never heard back.

That is not the end of the story. See next comment.

Continued from above:

Fast forward several years, I am still driving from Poughkeepsie, NY to Rye, NY twice every week. I still have my pre-programmed selections of public radio stations, and alternative radio stations. I use the FM11 band when closer to Poughkeepsie (85 miles North of Manhattan,) and FM-2 the closer I get to my destination. At about the halfway mark, I pick up WBAI-FM from New York City. BAI is an alternative, 100 percent listener sponsored radio station. I make the point about 100 percent listener sponsored, as many national public TV and radio programs are sponsored, in part, by the likes of Goldman Sacks and other partners in recent crimes, and they let you know it, frequently, throughout the day.

About a month and a half ago, BAI was doing its own fundraising, by the four seasons (to hear the astrologically-inclined on their own segments, it's done by the alignment of this or that celestial entity.) Here is where I came to understand the process of fundraising on listener sponsored radio. Many of the segments on listener sponsored programs are produced with the funds (all or in part) of those who do the programming. They don't get paid, necessarily, by the station. However, if they want to be able to continue to deliver their message, they must raise sufficient contributions to pay their own way, contribute to the overall budget of the station, and have some excess of those amounts so that the station can subscribe to other programming, the content of which they support. Also, you have to contribute to the maintenance AND growth of the listener base for the station as a whole, not just your own programming.

A lot of pressure is put on the program producers to demonstrate, not only quality and enthusiasm for their own segments, but for the station as a whole. They must supply their own gift premiums, if they want to use an inducement, at the same time they are required to meet the pledge goals given them by the development director of the station. From what I can deduce and infer, some segment producers will start announcing gift premiums even before they are ordered or available. There is no deception intended. They honestly intend and expect to get around to ordering the gifts and shipping them. That is how it usually works. However, once the drive is finished and goals reached, one thing leads to another, and the extra work required for acquisition and fulfillment of premiums can slip through the cracks.

This appears to be an open secret among everyone in the organization. Some are starting to feel the loss of confidence from their own subscribers. As a result you will hear some program segments announcing that the gift premiums have already been delivered to the station (or wherever,) and will be shipped within 24/48/XX hours of a pledge of money.

So, Ruchira, what's a donor supposed to do? If a donor agrees with my characterization of the process, then it's up to the donor whether or not to make an issue of it. At least you know what's going on.

Norm, thanks for explaining the sausage making of gift giving by listener sponsored public radio. I have never before opted for a gift with my PBS and NPR donations (I pass up all the CDs, videos etc. that they so alluringly offer). This year I just wanted that coffee mug!

KPFK's GM at the time was a schlubb by the name of Mark Schubb, who plainly wanted to run his own NPR station. Before he took over, I'd drive home from work Wednesday evenings listening to completely off the charts shows about pan-Africanism and such, stuff that never gets aired anywhere. I'd tune in on Sundays for four hours--four hours!--of an opera show, featuring a full performance and plenty of informed discussion. I'd listen on Saturday mornings to The Car Show (not the one you're thinking of, but the one that's been on air forever), one of the most consistently intelligent radio programs I've ever heard...and I don't care a bit about cars. So I donated during the opera show one year, and probably took a "premium" of a CD or two. I wanted to support Fred Hyatt, the host, but I was also a fan of the car show, the pan-Africa discussion, and other programs.

I give up. I tried to post a lengthy comment, copied the entire thing knowing TypePad would barf, and of course TypePad barfed. Then I pasted and re-posted, and I get one paragraph. The rest has vanished.

@ Dean:

Email it and I'll give it a shot. BTW, I seem to remember a problem on another blog. The underlying core SW was ColdFusion, and ColdFusion seemed to be having intermittent, but noticeable problems with handling comments.

I have to get in touch with TypePad. This has never happened before and shouldn't happen now. After the fiasco with Elatia's comment, I activated CAPTCHA to elude TypePad's spam filter. But apparently to no avail.

Dean, and others -- this is not a religious thread. 'It' should not be happening. Unless believing that NPR will really, really send you a gift for your pledge qualifies as a credulous and craven and faith-based...

The comments to this entry are closed.