Ira Glass, host of the NPR show This American Life, has a new twist on getting people to give to NPR. As part of NPR’s funding drive, Ira is calling people on the phone and having them “turn in” family members who don’t give to NPR, despite being devoted listeners. I heard Ira call up a woman who said her parents “subjected” her to NPR for years when she was growing up (now she’s a fan). On the radio, the daughter gets the mother to the phone and says, “Mom, I’ve got Ira Glass on the phone and he wants to know why, after so many years, you haven’t given to NPR?” It’s the light, respectful version of the phone tap.
I used to spend 8 hours a week driving to and from work – a horrible waste of time, but I did get to listen a lot of NPR. The pledge drive always was painful, but I admit that it sometimes took being asked more than once for me to remember to give. And I fell for all the tricks – 2x and 3x matches; give a certain amount and get a copy of The Silver Spoon cookbook, you name it. I guess I and the rest of the listeners got what we deserved – it took that much ear-pounding to get us to give.
What I like most about the pledge drives is that the hosts of shows I listened to every day would get on the radio and say, “If you liked this show, if you listened to it all year long and if it made a difference in your life, you should support us financially.” No qualms, no apologies.
I do think there are better ways to raise money, but it is helpful to be reminded that we often have to ask more than once to get someone to make a financial commitment (especially the first time).
A parting thought: I wonder if the NPR hosts themselves dread this or are proud to ask for money?