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Don Hughes
CEO Great Plains Christian Radio

Boycott the Recession!

 

                                

If you plan on a downturn during a recessionary period do you think that at the end of the year you will be able to say, “Wow, we planned on a recession and look at all the funding we received above what we got last year?”  If you plan on a decline it will be realized.  Perhaps you should set the bar even higher and develop a plan to reach the higher goal.  After all, if I were a high jumper in track and field I would work at jumping eight feet and maybe I could clear seven.  I would also need to change my conditioning practices and prepare for the greater goal.

Now, I am not saying that we should not reevaluate expenses. We should always examine what we are doing and use wisdom.  There should constantly be an effort to weed out efforts that are not working and enhance those that are. Present conditions need not mean a decline in funding and thereby ministry and other services.  It could mean that you need a new plan and new strategies.  I am here to encourage you to boycott the current recession.

It is my desire in writing this item to redirect your thinking to the possibilities of growth in a time of recession by working differently.  Think of the recession as an external situation over which you have no control. You did not invest in sub-prime mortgages so why suffer the consequences? Perhaps my thoughts here will be useful by sparking an entirely different line of thinking.  In most situations the realities of where we live began with an adjustment that occurred between our ears.  “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7. 

Just recently I was in conversation with someone from a radio station that promotes that they have a million and a half people in their coverage area.  They report their Arbitron Audience Cume at one hundred and twenty thousand listeners, but they are having difficulty meeting their budget.  They have had considerable budget cuts and staff lay-offs. 

Let’s do the numbers on this situation.  If you were to figure everyone in a household listened to the station, which is not always the case, and there are 2.5 people per household that would mean they are reaching 48,000 homes.  The fact that not everyone listens in a given household would boost the number of homes considerably, but we will be conservative and work with the lower number.  Let’s further adjust that to 43,000 homes to allow for an unemployment effect of a little more than ten percent.  My research and experience in various situations show that you should be able to attract donations from fifteen percent of the homes so that you should be able hear from 6450 homes.  Some of these homes are going to become monthly contributors and others will be occasional givers, but your average will be about $190 annually from each home.  This total would give you an annual income of $1,225,500.  This particular radio station’s budget was about ninety thousand dollars a month or $1,080,000 annually.  The numbers show it is possible for them to have adequate funding.

There are a lot of variables and really no set formula that will be one hundred percent accurate for every station and area of the country; however I would encourage you to look at the numbers in order to set some goals.  What do you need in your annual budget?  How many people will it take giving thirty dollars a month to meet that goal?  There will of course be some that give more and some that give less.  How many people will you need to contact in order to receive a positive response from enough people to meet the goal?  It somewhat depends on the quality of the contact.  If your contacts are listeners who somewhat have a heart for the ministry about one in eight will become a donor.  However, when the economy has taken a downturn you may only realize one in ten becoming a donor, so it means you must work harder and smarter.

I hope you understand the intent of this article.  I would like this item to give you renewed strength to get the job done.  We have experienced adversity here at Great Plains Christian Radio that has depleted our energy.  On the last day of 2006 our one thousand foot tower collapsed.  We were off the air for nine days and then spent the next year broadcasting with three hundred feet less elevation.  One week after getting one of our stations fully restored my house burned.  It would be six more months before the other station was restored as we had difficulty with the contractors getting the work done.  Finally we got the tower restored and everything was back to normal.  My house was completed following the fire and we moved back in our home after a year of moving to three different locations.  Then the economy started to unravel.  Wow! It has been one punch after another.  In spite of these trials we have added three full power stations during this period.  Does this give me a few credentials to encourage you to press-on regardless the circumstances?

Be bold!  Put yourself in a position for God to wildly bless a simple act of faith.  Have you contacted every home in your listening area?  Why not? Think and plan big and perhaps you will not reach your wildest dreams, but be better off than thinking and planning small.  Plan an effort to adequately educate every home in your present listening area concerning your ministry.   At Great Plains Christian Radio we have written to every home in our coverage area three times. I had the vision a number of years ago of living on an island and making an effort to reach everyone on that little world.  Then I saw the region within the limits of our broadcast signal like an island.  We have made an effort to reach every home to tell them what we have available on the radio and send a presentation of the Gospel.

What have we done differently during the recession?  We had an effort through the mail to increase automated giving and realized a ten percent increase in these type gifts.  We have looked for book deals and given them away on the air to increase the mailing list.  We have mailed gifts of books or CDs to people who have not given in awhile to encourage their support.  Our morning announcer Michael Luskey is going to endeavor to ride a bicycle for 532 miles in our listening area and we are asking people to donate ten cents a mile or whatever they can afford.  In is likely that no one thing will get the job done, however each new and different approach can add a little.  For the most part we have tried to sound positive and upbeat and have not tied our funding to the recession.  All the other media outlets are whining about the circumstances, so we are providing a positive message. 

Once people have become listeners and expressed a growing interest in the ministry they need to be challenged to help with the support and share in the rewards.  One common way of drawing in new support is through an announcement of sixty seconds on the radio.

You will further the challenge when the on-air announcement is accompanied by a presentation in a full color brochure in the mail. If the mailing was to include an item that ministers and shows care for the individual your response will probably be a little higher.  What if you were to divide your mailing list among your staff and call as many listeners as possible and ask them, “Thank you for listening is there someway we can be praying for you?”   Write down the prayer requests, gather the staff for prayer and then send a card to let them know of your prayer.  This could raise the level of response to a higher degree due to the relationship you are developing with your constituency. Develop other ideas to increase the quality and quantity of your contacts with your listeners. Here is the important point; there has never been a liberty in living in the old way of doing things.  

If you are experiencing a financial shortfall it could be that the Lord wants you to reduce your spending and sharpen your skills in better financial management.  It could also mean that the Lord wants you to expand your ministry to come in contact with more people and enhance the quality of the contact to improve the ministry you have with your constituency.  In Luke 22:31, Jesus spoke to Peter saying, “Simon, Simon!  Indeed Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”  When someone is sifting wheat they are getting ready to bake bread.  We need to be thankful in the sifting phase even though it is painful.  It is a preparation process to get ready to feed many.

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Bio:  Don is observing forty years in broadcasting in 2009.  Great Plains Christian Radio consists of seven full power stations and thirty-six translators. The flagship station, KJIL, has been named Station of the Year most recently by NRB and in the past they have received that honor from GMA, NAB (Marconi), Focus on The Family and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.  Don Hughes and his wife Polly have been married for thirty-one years and they have six children. 

Don Hughes can be reached at don@kjil.com

 

 

 

 

 

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