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Community Broadcaster: #GivingTuesday and Radio

2020’s celebration is here. Are you ready?

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at

May 5 is more than Cinco De Mayo, the celebration that takes place in many cities across the United States. It is also a special Giving Tuesday event nationwide. It is your chance to lift up local nonprofits, including community radio stations near you.

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a day to encourage people to do support nonprofit endeavors in their communities. Most of us may remember Giving Tuesday as the day that happens later in the year, around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As with everything in 2020, though, things are changing up.

Over the past eight years, Giving Tuesday has grown into a wider campaign to encourage people to contribute financially, to collaborate and celebrate generosity of others. More than $2 billion has been raised since Giving Tuesday’s inception. Right now, with so many nonprofits in need of help, you can guess money is the most critical conversation.

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With all the issues facing community radio, your station would be forgiven for Giving Tuesday to seemingly come out of nowhere for you. Between remote work, automation system management and helping our wonderful volunteers, plenty of leaders in community media are pretty stretched these days.

Hope is not lost. If you are now scrambling to do something for Giving Tuesday, an email to your donors and social media messaging reinforcing core themes to your ask are a great start. Why should a listener give money to your station during a pandemic? That’s not intended to be a provocative question, but one to stimulate ideas about your relevance. It’s your chance to shine a light on the good things you bring your area, and why you are important to support.

In times like this, your radio station aspiring to raise funds could whip up a case for support to explain to a potential donor why you are raising money right now. For instance, maybe your station is seeing a gap in this year’s operating budget because you’ve had to cancel a big fundraising event or your pledge drive. Or maybe your station needs funds to deploy more staff to cover communities most affected by health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Helping everyone to understand your need is central to good fundraising.

If you are shooting to send out that email previously mentioned, consider targeted messages to your reliable donors and the more infrequent ones. You can acknowledge your regular contributors in your language, and ask less frequent donors to step out with you this time. While concerns about personal finances are natural, those able to give are usually willing and wish to be asked. You may want to craft your message appropriately.

The day before, it would be a good move to meet via video conference with your influential people, such as board members, key volunteers and others who can promote your station’s Giving Tuesday endeavors on the day-of. You can talk with them about your plans, but involve them too. They’ll be crucial to Giving Tuesday success, so lean on them for advice and, of course, reaching out to their own networks for contributions.

If you are feeling a little bolder, doing some livestreaming on social media can be fun. Facebook Live with your station’s on-air personalities can be really enjoyable. You could also consider Instagram Live or Twitter for livestreaming, depending on where your station is strongest and where the best opportunities lie. These livestreams can be fun and give listeners a look at the stories of the people who bring the content they love. However, do not do this livestream without a bit of planning. Like live radio, nothing is worse on a livestream than fumbling and dead air.

Giving Tuesday is going to be a fantastic day for many nonprofits. How great it will be for your community radio station is in your hands.