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Get the Word Out to Create Action

Make 2016 your station’s year of doing good for the community

Beasley Media Group’s WNKS(FM) in Charlotte, N.C., recently hosted the fourth annual Secret Santa for the Kiss Kids Radiothon from the Seacrest Studios at Levine Children’s Hospital. LauRen from “Kiss Mornings” proudly holds the check from the $44,000 she and her co-hosts, Roy and Maney, raised from the 13-hour Secret Santa Radiothon for the Kiss Kids staying at the Levine Children’s Hospital

Roy, LauRen and Maney (pictured left to right in both photos) from Kiss Mornings raised over $44,000 during the 13 hour broadcast for the Kiss Kids staying at Levine Children’s Hospital. Poverty comes into sharp focus during the holidays. Fortunately, giving during December has become an integral part of the season. While basking in the warmth and good cheer of holiday feasts, we become better people when we “pay it forward” and offer our money and time to those less fortunate.

For almost a century, radio and public philanthropy have played a critical role in helping the needy in the local community during this special time of year.

During 2016, could you find it in your heart to expand beyond the holidays and do more good throughout the year?

January is an excellent time to consider this possibility because you have plenty of time to plan. This is one of those cut-and-dried decisions that’s up to your management team; it will happen only with discussion and commitment. Now, I’ve never seen a mandate come from corporate requiring its local stations to raise 15 percent for charity annually… but if you make it your own to be more involved with helping the needy, it’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your career.

A common misconception is that a large staff is required to help out in a community. Not true! What is vital is that someone on your staff has personal connections to people and non-profit groups who are already organized and know what’s realistic in your community. Then our role as broadcasters is to paint the picture with sound and get the word out with enough reach and frequency to create action.

If you’re willing to grow your community outreach this year, I suggest planning one large activity per quarter. In station clusters, it’s a perfectly good idea to duplicate this activity on more than one station, especially if the stations have distinctive audiences. I’m also a huge believer in involving other media outlets — TV stations, newspapers, or local media websites — to act as partners in maximizing the market reach and showing solidarity in improving local conditions.

Your quarterly “activity” could be promoting an actual event — such as a concert to benefit a local charity — or perhaps you’re pushing for donations on the supply side, where you are collecting canned goods for the food bank, or coats and gloves for those who can’t afford to buy them.

This Polar Plunge is missing one thing: a radio station to promote it!
CREDIT: Rotary District 7930 Once it becomes known that you are expanding your charity efforts, it’s possible you’ll be approached by a non-profit that wants to use crowd funding via one of the many online platforms now in that business. You should be aware that these professional fundraising technology companies often make their money by taking a cut of what is raised. While there’s nothing wrong with that model, you must determine that the percentage is okay with all parties involved in the fundraiser so it doesn’t come as an unwelcome surprise at the conclusion.

As I’ve stated on many occasions, I am a proponent of annual radiothons when done well. Look no further than St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital to serve as the model for this endeavor. They have fine-tuned their approach with short, magnificently pre-produced sound bites that paint the picture. Plus, the way they encourage listeners to become monthly contributors sets a new standard in on-air fundraising.

If you truly don’t know where to start, ask your audience. You’ll no doubt receive great ideas, encouragement and volunteers to help you succeed. When stations do good, everyone wins!

How has your station “done good”? Tell us at [email protected].

The author is president of Lapidus Media. Contact him at [email protected].