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Use Proven Resources - Success Stories: Overall Development

Stations that have participated in one of CPB's major giving programs feel energized and ready to advance their major giving programs. We want to capture this enthusiasm by sharing successes and new ideas. Do you have a major giving success story? By letting us tell your story on this page, you will encourage other stations to continue their major giving efforts. Simply write up your story and .

Topics of Interest
Topics of Interest

2006 PBS DevCon Award Winner: Iowa Public Television

TITLE | A New Foundation for Public Broadcasting in Iowa

Five years ago, two volunteer boards of directors realized a unified fundraising structure was needed to meet the funding changes that were taking place and to continue to serve the people of Iowa. These volunteers combined a "Friends" membership board and staff, a separate endowment fund board and state employees doing corporate support into a new structure, the Iowa Public Television Foundation.

GOALS | The Foundation began on July 1, 2001 with the following goals: the network and the foundation must have a shared vision, mission and plan; increase revenue and diversify revenue sources; maintain mature membership base while decreasing the cost to raise a dollar; and build a sustainable base of support for the mission that can be successful for years to come.


  1. Develop a Joint Strategic Plan — The network directors and foundation president worked with counsel to determine a framework for real strategic thinking that included the opinions of both governing boards of directors, funders, viewers, educational users, govt. and business leaders and 56 members of network and foundation staff. We heard from a former governor, a classroom teacher, a nationally known media expert and an author poet about what Iowa Public Television should strive to be at its best.
  2. Build a foundation organizational structure — board of directors' nominating, training, scheduling and work flow processes in place; full staffing; clear and real organizational charts; job descriptions and annual personnel evaluation processes; board policy manual; consistent logo and identity, integrated and timely donor acknowledgement and premium fulfillment; endowment fund investment policies, spending policies and third party management; new financial report formats; consolidated hard copy and electronic major donor files with moves management; and a complete catalog of matured and expected planned gifts.
  3. Blueprint the annual fundraising plan — breaking the overall strategic plan goals into calendar objectives and quarterly goal markers. Being accountable at each of these points to staff, board and network.
  4. Communicate continuously all of this work to each constituency in a manner appropriate to their role — meetings with leadership, regular staff meetings, weekly board memo, clear and transparent reporting to the board quarterly, active communication with outside community groups, proof of performance spots, donor recognition. Share the disappointments and the successes honestly.
  5. Evaluate with careful consideration of results using facts and data. Determining what is working and what is not. Eliminating what is not, so we can concentrate on the areas of highest return.


  • The Program and Content Evaluation or PACE mechanism involves staff from all disciplines. This group meets monthly to consider program and content ideas based on a predetermined rating system that includes relevance to mission, economic feasibility, impact, organizational strengths and weaknesses, need, external opportunities and risks. This rational method also provides information to all departments and a regular inventory of programs for corporate support and individual major gifts.
  • The strategic planning process made it clear that we must collaborate and partner within IPTV and with other institutions. This has resulted in joint projects on a number of fronts — workforce development, community college education, and cultural institutions with con-comitant funding opportunities.
  • Data based decision making and communication of factual results has helped us achieve greater trust and credibility inside and outside the network.
  • Revenue increases over the past five years; membership in a mature program up 14%, corp. support up 30%, major gifts up 120%, and overall revenue up 19%. Cost to raise a dollar decreased by 10.5%.
  • Planned gift expectancies have increase from 34 to 96, a 282% jump in five years. Expectancies now total nearly 7 million dollars. This year, 2005-06, brought the greatest numbers yet with 22 new expectancies and 4 matured gifts.
  • The endowment fund balance increased from 3.5 million dollars to 6.9 million dollars, up 93%.
  • These results are sustainable — they are not built on a single event or idea or donor or program or staff person. A strong organizational structure matters in being successful.


  • More dollars means more local programming made in Iowa and about Iowa. IPTV is the only statewide broadcast outlet and we can make the most of that position by bringing great things to our viewers.
  • The joint planning and PACE procedure results in more relevant programs for the people we serve. A weekly magazine program was ended and an evening public affairs program will begin this coming year. This will help fill a void left when the statewide newspaper shrank its' distribution and meet an identified need for statewide information.
  • Teachers have new tools to teach Iowa history, tools other textbook and media companies are not interested in developing for a state of 3 million people. Partnerships with other organizations make the materials richer for students. (www.iptv.org/iowapathways/)

It is not terribly glamorous — it is plain hard work, honest strategic thinking, planning and an overriding sense of true stewardship. The Iowa Public Television Foundation can build on its success and fulfill our purpose for years to come.

2006 PBS DevCon Award Winner: KAET

TITLE | It Pays to Invest in Development

GOALS | Goals are financial (gross, net), numerical (increasing the # of donors, clients, members at each $ level), and for long-term growth (retention rates, average gift/transaction) and fourth for fostering quality relationships. The vision of KAET's Development efforts is: To effect every-one in Arizona so that they want to give to KAET; and to make them supremely satisfied when they do.

PROCESS | Each area of KAET Marketing & Development (Membership, Major Giving, Planned Giving, Corporate Support, Events, Small Business Partners, Affinity Marketing, Business Ventures) begins with a strategic plan... objectives, strategies, tactics, activity timeline, assignments, and budgets. These plans are then discussed across areas and communicated (regularly) to others within M&D and across KAET proper. (Note: Business Ventures and Affinity revenues are not included in the numbers below.)

We also built on last year's very successful key initiatives to: better make the case, grow the value of being a member/donor, enhance community partnerships and underwriting, reinvigorate multi-media integration of messaging and promotion, and engender KAET with our local community.

RESULTS | KAET Marketing & Development had another year of solid gross AND net revenue growth on every front. Overall, we raised $8.95M (including Planned Gifts) in FY06, which was a 40% increase over FY05. Gross revenues over two-years went from $5.5M to nearly $9M which is, on top of a 28% increase over FY04, a two-year improvement of 64%. Net revenue grew another 17% in FY06 (on top of a 18% increase in FY05) for a two-year improvement of 61%.

Membership grew from $4.8M to nearly $5.5M and the numbers of members grew from 52,500 to nearly 56,000. With good renewal rates, huge gains were made in add giving, pledge Lapsed, and on-line. We grew monthly giving, initiated a sustainers program, continued to advance pro-active ticket deals with venue operators, and improved member services and fulfillment.

Major Giving grew from $910k to 1,070k and in count from 524 to over 1,200... by reinforcing the "Signal Society" brand in a series of on-air spots and with pledge challenges, continuing to grow donor contacts and cultivation efforts & events. KAET continues (and will) its participation in the Major Giving Initiative from CPB. Grants grew in key areas (e.g, RTL) by better managing grant opportunities and efforts.

Corporate Support/Underwriting grew from $991k to nearly $1.5M. We continued to grow our sales teams, pro-ed up our sales materials, and continued to advance the consultative sales. Two of our reps participated in CSPI, which they have benefited from mightily. (BTW, instead of getting rid of a monthly magazine as so many stations are discussing, we put some commissionable sales effort into selling ads and cover the costs. As a result, we went from a B&W pub of 40 pages with no ads to 48 pages, 4-color thru 80% of the book and $105k in billings this year. We are now better able to promote... Planned Giving, Events, Tickets/Box Office, Vehicle Donation, etc., etc.

Planned Giving grew from $172k to nearly $900k... by participating in the PBS planned giving spot effort, locally re-branding those spots to with our own "Legacy Society", growing promotion of LegSoc via print ads in the magazine and other promotions and mail inserts (e.g., gift fulfillments).

Fund Raising Events grew from $15k last year to over $30k this year. While 100% growth, this area needs to get to six-figures net soon... and will do so in the coming months and years via better sponsorship deals, and by partnering with other organizations/non-profits and sponsors. We just started down this path in FY06.

Last year I said in this space to "stay tuned" implying further growth was on the horizon. Through prudent planning and investment, hard work, and outstanding teamwork... it came to fruition.

Again, a big thanks to our GM who continues to foster new investment in Marketing & Development. You got to pay to play. Through this strategy, we greatly boosted our gross and net revenues in FY06.

IMPACT | The impact is first internal and, ultimately, external. Internally, we are struggling to recover from drastic state funding cuts... which will bring our state funding to zero this year from what was $1.6M per year since forever. And, we like other stations, are striving to finish our expensive conversion to digital, which is nearly complete. Then of course, we like to keep our good and able staff on the job.

Externally, these successes have fostered an ever-growing involvement in the Arizona community. We have better clarified our position in the market, our vision and mission to serve our community... all in an effort to not only survive, but to thrive and grow our services to our local community. We certainly want to expand our reach and impact to the more than 1.5M viewers each week and continue a one of the top-rated PBS stations in the country. Further, over the last two years or so, we have significantly grown our local productions, expanded Ready-to-Learn (and it funding), and developed a wide array of new community partnerships and greatly improved our image and place in Arizona. We are planning to continue this investment and growth and ever increase our role as this community's multi-media partner.

2006 PBS DevCon Award Winner: WXXI

TITLE | RX for a Healthy Station

GOALS | The over-all economic landscape in Rochester, NY has been suffering over the past few years. The population has declined slightly, mid-sized business growth has been stagnant and the Fortune 500 companies that call Rochester home such as Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and (formally) Xerox have been engaged in dramatic downsizing. Despite these challenges, WXXI managed to develop a fiscal stability plan based on overarching strategic goals which resulted in 20.2% growth across the board for the fiscal year; this built upon significant growth already experienced in the prior two fiscal years. We attribute this growth to a cumulative and persistent process rooted in a fundamental belief that aligning each department's goals to the strategic plan would allow every team member to focus on the end result — a diversified portfolio of broad-based, sustainable community support.

PROCESS | WXXI endeavors to be an integral part of the Rochester community and therefore worthy of community support. In 2005 as the new strategic plan was being developed, WXXI held station wide organic planning exercises with all employees for suggestions and buy in to the process, management met with members of the Community Advisory Board to make sure we were connected to our stakeholders as well as held management and supervisory level seminars based on the book "Good to Great." By meeting with all of these key players, we created a strategic plan that truly spoke to every facet of the organization and since they all had a hand in its creation — everyone internalized and embraced the plan. The reason for this approach was to, in the words of the author, Jim Collins, "develop a culture of disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action."

In the spirit of a disciplined approach, an effort was made to engage all station constituents — Underwriters, Major Donors, the Board, Members, Viewers and Listeners. WXXI mounted an intense campaign to insure that all groups were being cultivated for giving on a regular basis. WXXI was present at four large community festivals promoting the station. A lecture series, WXXI Voices that featured local and national public TV and radio personalities was highly attended. Cultivation events have become an integral part of the Major Giving Program at WXXI. Small station tours, large house parties or cocktail parties, were held and each event was designed to meet new major donors or to become closer to our long time donors. An annual Associate's Event, this year featuring Ray Suarez, was attended not only by our major donors and Board, but by our underwriters as well. Underwriters are now invited to all major donor events to further and enhance their cultivation. Annual events geared toward generating planned gifts have also become part of the norm. This year we also held a 40th anniversary reunion for original members of WXXI.

Membership continues to be the backbone of Development showing continued revenue growth. In addition, focusing on new revenue opportunities has been a priority and this year, as a result, we have solicited and received production funding from individuals for the first time making it possible to offer outreach to ten other stations around the country in support of our national healthcare series, Second Opinion. Creative ideas in pledge allowed us to reach out to current audiences through our regular programming. In a joint effort between Membership and Underwriting, Stickley, Audi & Company (a local company and underwriter) donated a $10,000 dining room set (table & chairs) to encourage members to pledge around Antiques Roadshow. This was an exciting event spanning three weeks and engaged thousands of eager viewers. The company was thrilled to be part of a high profile give away in support of the station.

RESULTS | In FY 2006, we experienced revenue increases in all development areas: membership, major gifts, corporate support, auction, and special events. Overall, our net revenue increased 20.2%; bringing the increase in net revenue since FY 2003 to more than 40%. During this time of significant revenue growth, we worked diligently and successfully to keep overall expenses constant.

As a result of our effort to continue to engage Underwriters through extensive packaging and extensive cultivation, the Underwriting department reached an historic high in billed revenue — well over $1.9 million (including events). The annual on-line Auction, The BIG DEAL, brought in over 500 new donors through greater outreach into the community, referrals and increased donor cultivation. Our on-line Auction nets more revenue than our on-air effort ever managed. A donor affinity program was introduced and special incentives for on-line auction buyers helped to increase participation and helped to increase net return.

A high net return, community support and involvement were the goals across the board and as such WXXI developed its volunteer leaders under the auspices of the Major Giving Initiative to help make it all happen. This resulted in the formation of the Major and Planned Giving Committee, an annual giving plan for the Board, increased awareness of the issues affecting WXXI, increased revenue in membership, major donors, planned giving, underwriting and auction. We are truly a culture of disciplined people, thought and action and our outstanding results speak to that success.