Hands-on Advice for Winning Management Support
When it comes to getting leadership buy-in, most times you have to rely on the proof that’s in the pudding.
Paige Meriwether, director of development at KUED, a Salt Lake City public television station, knows this well. Not long ago, she says, managers at some public radio stations began putting pressure on their corporate-support departments to put a more commercial-media spin on their case for corporate support, basing it on the number of spots the corporation has with the station. In some cases, corporate-support departments were given financial incentives as well.
For some, the time frame in which they were expected to close a corporate gift shrunk from six to 12 months to three to six months. Meriwether says stations went from investing a lot of time and effort into corporate relationships, which often resulted in a quality relationship and larger gift, to closing a smaller gift sooner.
“If the development department was too pressured to go out and close a gift too soon, they were leaving money on the table and also, at the same time, putting the relationship at risk for a renewal the next year.
“We have a very philanthropic attitude, so it was also how do you communicate and make the internal case for a more long-term approach to corporate support,” she says.
Meriwether said her corporate-support team decided a few things:
1. That it would not be incentive based. Instead, they viewed their role as similar to that of a major-gift officer who, rather than going after individual gifts, was soliciting corporate gifts.
2. They identified the top benchmarks for what would make the department successful, deciding on average contract size or average gift, renewal rate, and net revenue income.
“It only took about 18 months to prove that this was very much a winning strategy,” Meriwether says, noting that the first year after implementing these changes KUED’s revenue went up about 60 percent.