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How PBS Stations Are Boosting Fundraising Efforts Through Personalized Ask Amounts



Texas PBS affiliate station KLRU faced a challenge familiar to many non-profits: The station wanted to boost donations, but was limited in the resources and staff time it could dedicate to making and implementing a plan.

KLRU had recently seen growth among their major donors, but not the same expansion among “viewers like you” — that is, the small- and mid-level donors. Working with ExactAsk, KLRU was able to grown its donations by 76 percent using just four hours of staff time. Here’s how they did it.

Asking Smart

Research has shown that when people are prompted with the right tip or donation options they often give more. The key is identifying that right amount. Asking too much of donors can leave them feeling less than generous, but asking too little leaves money on the table for the non-profit.

In the past, organizations based their ask amounts on financial data. Some would simply ask for some percentage more than the donor previously gave, but that’s not a reliable strategy for producing growth. Predictive analytics have proven more effective, but only if the right set of data is used.

Often predictive analytics examine a donor’s capacity for giving, or, how much they can afford. Using  data like real estate holdings, IRS filings, and shareholder information, the predictive analytics tool creates a financial portrait of each donor. A donation amount would then be suggested based on what a donor could afford. But just because someone can give a certain amount of money doesn’t mean they will.

That model of determining a donation amount lacks context. A KLRU donor who tunes in once a week for a specific show may not be compelled to give more, even if they have the capacity to. Meanwhile, a loyal KLRU fan who interacts with station content on their television, website, and social media may be willing to give more if asked.

ExactAsk worked with data the KLRU had assembled about donors to come up with a better idea of what the station’s programing was worth to each donor. Using information from KLRU’s customer relationship management platform, ExactAsk looked at factors like giving history, likelihood to lapse in giving, and how donors interacted with the station’s content to zero in on the right ask amounts. Looking at what people are willing to give, rather than what they could afford to give, resulted in more accurate, targeted ask amounts.

Fast and Easy

Like many nonprofit organizations, KLRU couldn’t spare large amounts of staff time to implement a new donation request strategy, nor could they wait on lengthy analysis.

However, less than a month after signing on with ExactAsk, KLRU had a brand new, more accurate set of donation request amounts, implemented them, and was able to report back a 76 percent increase in giving. The only extra staff time required was the two hours it took two employees to enter the new ask amounts into the station’s email marketing program.

It cost about 10 cents per new ask amount, but with the increase in donations KLRU got a 400 percent return on investment.

To learn more about using personalized Ask amounts to boost your nonprofit fundraising efforts, contact us for a free demo.