The Major Gifts Initiative (MGI) is a benefit of membership in the Station Resource
Group. The first round of the MGI is a thirteen month effort (June 1998 – June 1999)
for up to twelve stations. SRG plans a second round for additional stations in early
MGI assumes that participating stations see this as a next step after achieving a
stable and growing annual base of membership support, especially where memberships at
and above the $250 level have been introduced and embraced by the community.
Participating stations should also have an established underwriting program that
provides a stable income source. With SRG acting as project manager, Carol Eddy and
Claudia Chouinard of Results Group will deliver the training and expert major giving
counsel mentioned in this summary.
The Major Gifts Initiative builds on the success of SRG’s Leaders Partnership project
last year. Five SRG members, WBEZ, WBUR, WRKF, WUWM and Vermont Public Radio
collectively increased their major gift revenue by more than $371,000sixty-two
percent over the previous year.
The stations in the Leaders Partnership exceeded the modest goals they set at the
beginning of their project. Several believe they have seen strong longer-term results
in areas tangential to this project: bequests and planned gifts, new opportunities
for corporate and foundation support, and membership upgrades at the $250 to $999
levels. These pilot stations reported that the project helped board and staff
leadership become more aware of the impressive potential for larger gifts and far
more motivated in seeking these gifts.
Just as with the Leaders Partnership, participants in the Major Gifts Initiative will
develop clear, compelling answers to the question, "Why should I make a large
gift to your station? What will be the benefit to me and my community?" And,
perhaps most importantly, they will see first hand that the general manager, staff,
and board members of every public radio station can be enormously effective
We learned through the Leaders Partnership that this investment in staff time is
the single most important factor affecting station success in this project.
For stations to achieve the maximum benefit from this project, development staff and
the general manager must be ready to make a significant commitment to both the time
and process needed to cultivate and solicit major gifts. One fundraising staff member
should expect to spend at least twenty hours each week on this work.
In many communities, public radio is not yet considered on a par with a museum,
hospital, or university as a high priority for generous philanthropic gifts. The
Major Gifts Initiative will help stations take steps toward changing those
perceptions in their community, first within staff and board and then among donors
SRG stations participating in the Major Gifts Initiative will enjoy learning new
professional skills individually and from one another. Working in this group will
increase performance through peer interaction and the sharing of new ideas. The
success of this collaboration will provide solid experience for future SRG projects.