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A pledge drive is an extended period of fundraising activities, generally used by public broadcasting stations to increase contributions. The term "pledge" originates from the promise a contributor makes to send in funding at regular intervals for a certain amount of time. During a pledge drive, regular programming is interrupted by an appeal for pledges by station employees, who ask the audience to make their contributions, usually by phone or the Internet, during this break.

Background

While public broadcasters are entirely government-funded in some nations, such as the United Kingdom's BBC, there are many countries where some funds must come from donations from the public. Stations in these parts of the world commonly hold pledge drives about three times each year, usually lasting one to two weeks each time.

Pledge drives are especially common among United States stations. Although the federal government, primarily through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and corporate underwriting provide some money for public broadcasting organizations like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, they are largely dependent on program fees paid by their member stations. [1] These stations require funding in turn from listeners and viewers (as well as local corporate sponsors) for not only these fees, but also other daily operating costs, and stage regular pledge drives in an attempt to persuade their audiences to contribute.

A hallmark of pledge breaks is the "pledge room", where the speakers deliver their message as volunteers answer ringing telephones in the background. Frequent updates are provided as to the amount of money that the pledge drive has raised so far, which is also (on television stations) shown on a numeric display. Small prizes (such as mugs and tote bags), as well as entries into drawings for larger awards, are also offered by many stations in return for pledging certain amounts of money.

While pledge drives are an effective method of raising money for stations, they often annoy viewers and listeners, who find the regular interruption of what is usually commercial-free content a nuisance. Audience numbers often decline during pledge drives; to compensate, some stations air special programming during these fundraising periods. Others have aimed to eliminate pledge drives altogether, or significantly reduce their length, by asking for contributions throughout the year during regular station identification breaks. In a more recent trend, some stations also advertise that pledge drives will be shortened by one day for every day's worth of contributions donated in the weeks leading up to a drive.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Who Pays for Public Broadcasting?". Corporation for Public Broadcasting. http://www.cpb.org/aboutpb/faq/pays.html. Retrieved 2006-10-21.  
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