We still need help, NPR tells its listeners
A huge gift to NPR may mean fewer donations for its member stations.
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Although he also blames technical difficulties that occurred during the 10-day drive, Davis says that, based on anecdotal feedback and calls from listeners, there is "no doubt in my mind" that the L.A. Times publicity hurt giving to the station.Skip to next paragraph
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"How much of that 25 percent can be attributed to the publicity surrounding the Kroc gift, I really can't say," he adds. "My gut instinct says it's probably about half."
As NPR affiliates head into their own fundraising drives in the coming months, station hosts are debating how to best treat the Kroc publicity during this economic downturn when many listeners are already looking for reasons to do less giving.
KCRW's Ms. Seymour predicts the gift will have "no effect" on KCRW's upcoming drive, starting on Jan. 29, because of the station's core group of "loyal and very informed" listeners.
But Laura Walker, president of New York City's WNYC, thinks the station will see an interesting winter drive on Feb. 20.
"I imagine we'll get some questions why we need to pay NPR $2 million a year," says Ms. Walker, whose station pays the largest dues of any NPR affiliate. "I anticipate that many of our donors and members will be confused, thinking that we received that money."
But a generous gift is not always a disincentive to other potential donors. Sometimes, say some fundraisers, it can instead inspire others to do the same.
Since Ms. Kroc lived in San Diego and was a local subscriber, the city's KPBS, which includes a television division, received its own funds from the Kroc estate ($5 million).
Although such a large amount going directly to a station might be expected to hurt its fundraising, general manager Doug Myrland says listeners and television viewers might instead see the gift as a huge endorsement, one that will only spur more financial support.
"That's certainly been our experience locally," says Mr. Myrland.
Although KPBS won't hold its next radio pledge drive until Feb. 6, he notes that the station's 17-day television pledge drive last month exceeded its goal by more than 10 percent.
"The gift enables people to understand that we're worthy of significant gifts," says Myrland.
But the average listener doesn't give "significant gifts," and that's why Mr. Kendall finds Myrland's logic a little fuzzy.
"I don't think listeners will give more money because a corporation or an estate has given them millions - that's ridiculous," he says. "I think most listeners will take the opportunity to give less, and maybe use the money differently this year."
Still, Davis says he had great success in the final days of KPCC's drive when the station altered its pitch.
"Then we started saying, 'Mrs. Kroc made an extraordinary gift to NPR, but she also recognized that the gift would not benefit her local station in San Diego. So she made a generous gift to her local station as well. And therefore, let Mrs. Kroc's generosity to her local station inform your support of KPCC.' "
It wasn't enough to raise KPCC to its goal, "but our last-day syndrome was huge," says Davis.