Strategy & Marketing

Non-Profit and Media Ministry Fundraising Tips

For all the criticism that radio and TV ministries receive, many of these ministries are led by great people doing fine work in the world.  For every “TV evangelist” who seems like a con-artist, there are many more feeding the hungry, building water wells, helping the poor, and using the media to share a message of hope around the world.  Donating to those worthy ministries is a very good thing.  The late Mary Hutchinson sent me this “Top Ten List of Fundraising Tips” for Christian media programmers.  Based on her research, it’s particularly focused on religious and non-profit media.  But many of the ideas could impact the way you raise money outside of media as well.  Do you agree with these techniques?   Let me know your thoughts.

1)    If the audience only called for prayer or asked for a free gift, there is a less than 12% chance they will ever give to your ministry.

2)   Younger preachers or hosts attract younger responders regardless of the format.

3)   People will respond financially by email and direct mail better to a good story about a real person than a sermon or teaching.

4)   Even if you are Southern Baptist, your donors are more likely to also be supporting a charismatic ministry as well—rather than another evangelical organizations.

5)   Offering a product “for a gift of any amount” will out net a price point (i.e. $25) on television offers.

6)   Ditto direct mail offers.

7)   There is a segment of your audience that only will respond to you via direct mail.  There is another segment that will only respond to you via web.  There is another group who will always call.  And a tiny group will always find their own envelope and write to you.  Know who they are and treat them as they want to be treated and you’ll have a breakthrough.  (Phil’s excellent book “The Last TV Evangelist” points this out – everyone responds in different ways.)

8)   People want to have a two-way conversation with you.  Open that door any way you can.  Start listening.

9)   Your letters don’t have to be in the homes with mail before the first of the month.  That was true before direct deposit became a way of life, but not today.

10)   A well designed “Welcome Series” of mailings for new names and donors will cause people to be twice as likely to be a monthly partner by the end of the first year than simply putting people in the regular communication program.


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  1. I hate to sound negative, but why are we talking about keep the "norm" in Christian Television? Isn’t this what’s always been wrong with Christan TV? The fact that they have to ask for money so often, shows that they really aren’t connecting with their audience at all.  

    Look at PBS (the only other entity on TV that fundraises). They fill our homes with great programming throughout the year, and once every quarter they have a fund-drive.

    The rest of the time, they just give us great things to watch. I mean, it’s possible that Luciano Pavarotti and Julia Child never would’ve been house-hold names if it weren’t for PBS, right?  

    Christian TV ministries need to find similar significant ways to engage us. The never ending fund-drive just gets tiresome, and makes Christian TV crazy boring.

    It’s like…here we go again, another sermon. Stand up on a stage and dissertate upon Romans. Zzzzzzzzzz

    Let them give us something amazing, and cashflow will be no problem at all!  

    That’s it, for this tirade:-)


  2.  ** Xianity has always been a fraud.

     Provide services in the here-and-now? Sure you do. What % of donations go to overhead?

    Cash flow? Whatever happened to "take no thought for tomorrow . . ." ? Went out long ago when the world did not come to an end. Meanwhile let’s make some bucks.

     Time for televangelists, Jesus huksters, RC pedophiles . . . to be taxed. It’s past time to "render unto" Uncle Sam.

    The de-divination of western culture (including the sciences) is our task for the next 100 years.


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