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    October 20, 2008

    Saving the world is worth how many rounds?

    This past weekend I was driving in the car, and as a true marketer, found myself unable to turn off my local NPR station's Fall Membership Drive (sad, I know).

    Now, this was happening during a broadcast of This American Life, and I found myself laughing so hard at host Ira Glass' fundraising tactics tears were rolling down my face driving down the highway.

    Let me say here, that I have tried to find a clip of this on the web, and just couldn't but here is the basic jist:

    Ira encouraged his regular listeners to turn in friends, family, co-workers who were regular NPR listeners but never gave any money to the station. And what did he do, he called up just one such listener, I believe her name was Elizabeth, to discuss her lack of giving and as he said, "shame" people like her one by one!

    Amongs other things Ira and Elizabeth discussed was why she did not give, and in particular, how buying one round of drinks for her friends was probably more expensive than the NPR membership giving level. Elizabeth was a great sport about this, I have to say, I would have been much more mortified.

    This whole conversation really got to the heart of Gen Yish people. We've got money to buy all our friends drinks on a Saturday night, or maybe even a Wednesday night, but we can't spare a few bucks for something bigger than ourselves? If we are so generous with our friends and family, willing to go into debt just to entertain, perhaps we are not as charitably spendthrift as some might think? Perhaps buying drinks is a form of one-upmanship, a competitive streak. Should nonprofits try to engage young people in a more competitive tone?

    This one thing the shamed Elizabeth and Ira Glass could agree on: if you took all the money that people spend buying their friends rounds, NPR local stations would probably never have to run another membership campaign ever again.

    1 comment:

    Sam Davidson said...

    I really enjoy your blog, and I agree - Gen Y (or anyone, for that matter) could fund a membership level by foregoing a night out with friends.

    However, what NPR has failed to do is show Gen Y (or anyone, for that matter) that a membership level is a better choice than a night of drinks.

    Gen Y is looking for an experience. They're not just looking to join something or be a member of something. What I'd love to see NPR do is actually try something other than their pledge drive as usual, which only makes me change the station when they stop reporting and start begging.

    NPR is its own animal when it comes to fundraising, since they do have a revenue model built in (selling airtime).

    That all said, I can't blame Gen Y for not skipping drinks for the sake of NPR. NPR hasn't done much to convince Gen Y it's worth it.