Home Search About This Site MGI Archive Contact Us
Use Proven Resources - Success Stories: Special Achievement

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: KQED

TITLE | The Quest for Engagement and Knowledge

GOALS | In 2005, KQED embarked on Quest, a new multi-platform project that will educate and enlighten our community about the science and environmental resources, issues, and discoveries that surround us in our own Northern California neighborhoods. The project includes a weekly 5-8 minute radio news report broadcast locally during NPR's Morning Edition; a weekly 30-minute television magazine program airing on KQED before NOVA; an interactive website that will support the tv and radio broadcasts and include additional original content; and an on-line education resource center that will include viewer guides and activities and promote KQED teacher workshops. By using all of our media assets together in this coordinated way, and by drawing on the expertise and resources of our Bay Area science and nature community organization partners, KQED will maximize the impact of Quest content on formal and informal educators, students, and the general public.

To give the program adequate time to establish itself as a relevant and engaging community resource, our goal was to secure significant multi-year grants toward a total of $7.7 million dollars, to cover the first three years of production.

PROCESS | Quest is the most complex and comprehensive multiplatform project that KQED has attempted. It involves all four KQED platforms (radio, television, interactive, and educational outreach) and a community-based advisory panel, and represents the culmination of lessons learned through other, smaller scale multiplatform, local initiatives undertaken in the past four years. To ensure the success of this endeavor, we first sought and secured a $1 million R&D grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which allowed KQED to convene 12 premier San Francisco Bay Area science, technology, and education organizations (our advisors) six times over the course of a year to discuss the vision and scope of project, including outcomes and outputs. With this broad-based community input, KQED producers were able to create truly collaborative, thoroughly researched, community-driven pilots for radio, television, web, and education that both established the project's editorial voice and provided invaluable collateral for the fundraising team. In collaboration, we were able to identify the unique capabilities KQED could bring to the table as a local media organization and fill the role of convener of these groups, which no other group has been able to fulfill.

Part of the R&D process included the development of a solid fundraising strategy, which allotted one year to raise three years of project support before starting production. Fundraising started in December 2005; as of July 2006, we have raised $6.7 million and expect to have fundraising complete and pre-production starting by September 2006.

RESULTS | One of the most important lessons learned through this process was the value of R&D grants for identifying a clear community need and developing plans to address it head on, and, thus, ensuring the long-term success of the project. For example, our extensive R&D process so firmly grounded the project in research and established important community buy-in that the majority of Quest funders made three-year commitments to the project and many became themselves engaged in completing funding, such as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation which graciously hosted a lunch with funder prospects, and others who have served as references for prospective funders.

Cross-platform projects, engaging two or more of KQED's four platforms, are not new for the station: for the past four years, our local arts initiative, Spark, has successfully linked tv, web, and community outreach to promote local artists and arts organizations, encourage greater participation in the arts by our viewers, and supplement community and school-based arts education. Through Quest, which was built on the best practices of Spark, we learned that linking thematically aligned content and outreach among different KQED platforms into coordinated, comprehensive, community-based initiatives with a finely honed and developed mission statement, is also a powerful strategy for attracting multi-year support. This enormously successful, community-supported and mission-based approach has already been used in the construction of two more multiplatform initiatives that have garnered important multi-year support, KQED's Health Initiative (three-year initiative, raised $930,000 to date) and Immigration Initiative (18-month initiative, raised $640,000 to date).

IMPACT | The Quest project will complete KQED Television's "local strip" — a block of original, local content every week night, Monday-Friday, from 7:30-8pm. The local strip is a key element of KQED's current strategic plan and our commitment to increasing the amount of locally produced and locally relevant content we offer our audiences. The most important impact of our successful fundraising for Quest, however, is on the community: as a result of our efforts, in 2007 KQED will raise the visibility of local science and environment organizations, and activities throughout the Bay Area, providing Northern Californians with unprecedented access to Bay Area science, environment, and nature news and resources.

2006 PBS DevCon Award Winner: Wisconsin Public Television

TITLE | Wisconsin WWII and Korean War Stories

GOALS | Our first goal was to honor, remember and preserve the stories of Wisconsin's veterans who served in World War II and Korea. Our second goal was to fund it — raise $450,000 — while continuing our partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) and working with a new partner, Wisconsin's Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). Our third goal was to enlist community leaders, especially our major donor and board members, in developing and funding this project. Our fourth goal was to use this project to demonstrate to key constituents the power, reach and impact of WPT.

PROCESS | This project started with coordinated activities of our history production unit and the development staff of the partner organizations. Recognizing a common interest in finding veterans with stories and finding philanthropic people interested in helping share these stories, we started by asking major donors and board members to help us gather veterans for five "listening sessions" around the state. In these conversations, we identified interview subjects and were able to excite prospective funders about the opportunity of sharing these stories. In the cultivation process, several key donors participated in the listening sessions and all met with our producers who shared their enthusiasm for the project and early video of these compelling stories. We worked with our partners to develop beyond broadcast components that appealed to funders, including curriculum materials for schools, a companion web site and establishment of a permanent archive of the veteran interviews preserved at the WHS and the DVA's Veterans Museum. The power of the stories and the reach of the partners, along with the personal involvement of funders, helped us raised over $600,000 for this seven-hour series. We received lead gifts of $75,000 and of $70,000. We received a corporate gift of $60,000 and from two individuals who contributed $50,000 each. We completed our funding with several $25,000 and $10,000 contributions. In almost every case, these gifts represented the largest gifts we ever received from these funders. To demonstrate impact, we made our veterans' programs a focus of our member and major donor communications and organized a series of screenings honoring veterans throughout the state. These events were geared to key constituents, especially project funders and major donors, to have them see people see the program and hear from veterans about the importance of this project. We had a preview reception for veterans and funders at the governor's mansion, and another for veterans, funders and legislators at the home of the President of the University of Wisconsin. We organized an event at a living history site, a favorite cause of one of our lead funders. We also organized a reunion of the survivors of the USS Bunker Hill hit by kamikazes in 1945 to thank them for their service and introduce them to one of our funders (who served on a destroyer that came to their rescue). We mailed DVDs to all major donors, many of whom called asking for additional copies to share with friends and family. In addition, we produced an end-of-project report for funders sharing the impact of the project. We continue to use that report with funding proposals to demonstrate how an investment in WPT can serve the community through broadcast and non-broadcast components.

RESULTS | We sharpened our major gift project fundraising by engaging leadership volunteers and created an active partnership with producers in cultivating, soliciting and stewarding major gifts. We've demonstrated the value within WPT of working with partners and of engaging funders in the process. Recent major contributions from funders of our veterans' project to a concert series, and to our recently completed NEH Challenge to establish a $1,000,000 endowment for history productions have shown the power of stewardship to make major contributions a renewable resource. The experience we have gained and the success of the programs have led directly to the robust launch of a new history series, Wisconsin Hometown Stories. With this active participation of producers, management, the President of our Friends board and development staff — we exceeded our $100,000 fundraising goal for our first program, Janesville, by raising $115,000. Our second program in Green Bay has rallied extensive community support including participation of every area history group — the first time they've worked together on a project. It has also received a $50,000 lead gift and the commitment from that donor to raise the rest of our $200,000 goal. To date commitments exceed $150,000 from four funders — the first four funders we've asked. With strong interest from many others, it very likely we'll fully fund this project and exceed that $200,000 by enough to expand the project its original scope. In addition, this project has given us an example that we are now sharing with potential funders for a future Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories project to listen, honor, and thank Wisconsin's Vietnam veterans.

IMPACT | This series has been a powerful reminder to key constituents of the unique value of Wisconsin Public Television. The outpouring of enthusiasm and support was demonstrated by how it energized board members and volunteers, enlisted dozens of new major donors at screening events and the recent news that one veteran participant designated WPT in his will for over $75,000. His niece told us that his participation was one of the highlights of his life. Our veterans' project has been a model for PBS stations. We have shared materials with several stations, including KUED in Salt Lake City, which has repeated our project point by point. KUED used our graphics, our archival footage, our grant proposals, program titles and even our program narration.

Letter from former WW2 POW Sgt James E. Magruder — "I feel honored to have been chosen to take part. It is important that this terrible/tragic war never be forgotten. It is nothing like in the movies. There is nothing glamorous about war. In telling our stories I feel we have all finally started the healing process even though it is very hard for me to talk about my experience. It is important that the men and women who fought be remembered. That is why this documentary is so important to me and why once again I send my heartfelt thank you for giving me the privilege to take part in the telling these stories."

KCTS: Mid-Level Donor Event Generates $10,000 Gift

KCTS established a mid-level giving program to bridge our efforts between membership and major giving. Our new program, the KCTS Patron Circle, recognizes those individuals who give $500 to $1,000 annually.

On August 9, 2005, we joined forces with PBS celebrity, Chef Nick Stellino, host of Nick Stellino's Family Kitchen, to honor our Patron Circle donors with a celebration dinner and cooking demonstration. This event was primarily a donor thank you event, but we did offer the opportunity for our donors to give an additional gift through a very "soft" ask.

In this case, we attached a recipe card to their take-away gift which was an etched olive oil bottle. The recipe card read:

A Recipe for Success...


  • One public television station (KCTS Preferred!)
  • You and your generous support

Mix well. The results provide 1.5 million viewers in our community with quality television that informs, involves & inspires.

Thank you.

The card also included a recipe for an herb-flavored oil for their bottle. Also attached was a donation card with a return envelope.

We are happy to report that a gift of $10,000 was received from a couple who attended the dinner event, thus moving them from our Patron Circle (mid-level) to our Leadership Circle (major gifts). Prior to this gift, these donors had given at the $500 annually, but had not been on our prospect radar for contributing more.

Just another example of what a simple "thank you" can achieve.

Submitted by:
Helen Hickman
Donor Relations Manager
KCTS Television

Nashville Public Television Receives Transformational Gift of $1,000,00

Working with our MGI consultant, Nashville Public Television (NPT) is developing a case for support to be used in a feasibility study for a campaign. The case is based on a new strategic plan that the NPT board was deeply involved in developing and which they approved in May 2005. A key member of the strategic planning committee was a former board chair who led NPT's transformation from a government entity to an independent non-profit corporation beginning in 1997. As the lay leader most identified with NPT, his personal gift to the campaign will be critical to our eventual success. He has now pledged $1 million to the campaign, a gift which we will announce as we begin to involve all our board members and others closest to the institution. This key gift will help us raise the sights of other potential donors. It is truly a transformational investment in Nashville Public Television, the first gift of this magnitude we have ever received.

Submitted by:
Steve Bass
President and CEO
Nashville Public Television