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Feature Interview

Jerry Grimes

Vice President



To contact Jerry click here


Jerry's Career Capsule

I started working in local radio when I was 15 years old.  My dad had to drive me to the station on Sunday afternoons where I played horrible music (Lenny Dee, Liberace and Bobby Goldsboro were on the playlist) did local news and the call-in “swap shop” program.   Later on in high school, I convinced the station owner to let me “rock out” Saturday nights with a request show.    Emptying the trash I found a bunch of promo records from Word, Sparrow and Myrrh and took them home to discover Christian rock!  I also started working for the county newspaper while in high school and after graduation.  I attended Indiana State to major in journalism and political science.  While there, I worked for Terre Haute’s daily newspapers and married my high school sweetheart.   We moved to Texas for another newspaper job, which lead me to write for Cox Wire Service, the AP, UPI and contribute articles to Newsweek and the New York Times.  I left journalism to work in local television where I stayed for 18 years, working myself into management, moving around the country until I landed in Columbia, SC.  I then felt God’s call to ministry, so I quit my job and did promotion and concerts for Jim Marshall at WMHK.  When Jim left for WAY-FM, the station’s ownership asked me to step up.  That’s when I fell in love with fundraising! We had to raise almost $1 million a year without a sharathon!  From there I served at WAY-FM working with Dusty Rhodes as Donor Marketing Director before moving on to some other non-radio fundraising work and now, for the past 5 years, consulting with Advocace.


1. Tell us what’s new at Advocace', news, changes, expansion…etc.?

God has really blessed our work serving Christian radio stations, bible colleges, rescue missions and other Christian ministries! We are working hard right now to expand our team by adding another fundraising expert so we can expand to serve even more clients.  We’re also working on more analysis to help General Managers and station leaders make more informed decisions about fundraising.  You can expect us to provide more blogs, seminars, white papers and ideas to grow income in the months ahead.


2. For those who do not know, explain how Advocace' helps Christian radio stations.

Glad you asked!  It’s a great question because Advocace has deep roots in serving Christian radio, and some stations know us more for what we used to do than what we do now.  These days, Advocace is primarily a fundraising and management consulting firm that focuses on helping stations grow income outside of their sharathon.   We do that by building a donor communications plan (multi-channel, including direct mail, email, social media, website and on-air) and by providing hands-on, effective training to build a major gifts program.  For most stations, we’re able to provide a 3 to 1 return on investment by the end of the first year.  If you talk to our clients, you’ll also hear that we help General Managers become better leaders by providing coaching, strategy and on-going support and advice as we help them prepare their stations for the future.


3. How does Advocace' suggest stations identify a prospective donor?

Radio stations who do on-air fundraising are actually really good at attracting new donors, but most are not very good at keeping them.  In my work with dozens of stations, when you analyze the data it’s not uncommon to see an annual donor retention rate that’s 60% or less.  That’s like trying to fill up the bathtub without putting the stopper in!  Our donor communications efforts are designed to keep more donors and raise more money.  We also use proprietary tools we have developed at Advocace to help stations identify potential major donors by their capacity.  Of course, you can figure out pretty quick who your major donors are by looking at giving history, but our DonorCompass product helps you develop strategy by allowing you to focus on the donors who have the ability to make major gifts, whether or not they are doing so right now.


4. Do relationships with businesses get in the way of relationships with donors?

Not really.  We’ve even worked very successfully for years with commercial Christian radio stations who also do some fundraising and found that donor development and business development are quite compatible.  There is a lot of overlap.  Many business development customers are also major donors to the station.  They buy underwriting schedules from their marketing budgets and make donations from their personal income.  Even when that is not the case, most customers are giving you their business because they believe in your mission. When you steward the relationship carefully and effectively, you can often help them find additional ways to support your work.  We think it’s a good idea for stations to have great business development programs and great donor development programs working alongside one another to be good stewards of what God has provided.


5. What do you believe is the primary role of the Development Director?

First off, I wish more stations had one!  A lot of the radio stations we work with have never valued the relationships they have with their donors beyond what they do during and after Sharathons.   We like to come alongside stations and help them manage the donor communications it will take to really steward their donors, then help a development director and general manager to create an effective major gifts program centered on personal engagement.   The income is only one of the many blessings God will provide when you get out of the office and get to know the people He has provided to support your mission and pursue your vision for ministry!  Statistically, if you just go see a donor, you are going to see another gift from them 72% of the time.  So, the primary role of the Development Director must be to cultivate major donors, working in concert with the GM and really, the entire station’s team.


6. What are the characteristics of a successful general manager today?

I think great GM’s are more aware than ever of the external aspects of their ministries, and how important it is to build a local brand with deep roots in the community.  If you’re wise about it, you can raise the funds you need for marketing, digital expansion and personnel to grow relationships alongside your efforts to provide compelling local content no national network or on-line service (Spotify, Pandora) can match.  We used to say “it’s about what comes out of the speakers,” and I still believe that’s true.  You have to have a quality on-air product and you have to be meeting people’s needs with it.  But, that’s just your passport to getting where you need to be to survive the sea change impacting local, Christian radio.  Networks are buying more stations.  Listeners can get the same music you play anywhere.  You have to do a better job marketing yourself and building your local presence to make yourself indispensable to listeners.  That’s going to require a focus on external things like promotion and it demands income growth.  All that adds up to GM’s who are delegating programming issues more and spending more time outside the station in the community.


7. What is the one thing you must have every day to do your job?

My quiet time with the Lord.  I start my day with scripture, meditation and prayer.  Without that, I’m hopeless and helpless.  The work we do is hard.  Initially, it’s a lot of sowing seeds and trusting God to make them grow.  I try to start every client meeting and call with prayer, and I pray a lot for the direction I should lead the stations and organizations I am working with so that we’re not doing what Jerry Grimes wants, but what God wants.  That’s one of the main reasons Advocace does not have a cookie-cutter approach to serving stations.  Every station or ministry is unique and it’s only through prayer and discernment that we can determine how best to grow income.   Okay and there really is one more thing…Coffee!  I don’t think I could do this job without it!


8. Who are your radio heroes and influences and why?

Goodness! There are so many!  Paul Martin is Advocace’s President and has served radio stations for decades, and I’d definitely say he has been a major influence.  Bob Augsburg, one of my current clients, is a true hero.  He and his wife, Felice, were obedient to God in founding WAY-FM when there seemed to be no natural, possible way to make that happen.  Jim Marshall, GM of WAY-FM in West Palm Beach and regional manager for the organization, is a dear friend someone whose work I admire greatly.  Brian Sanders at Positive Alternative Radio is a powerful leader who inspires everyone around him on a daily basis.  I could go on and on, but as a lifelong learner, I can find something important to remember or someone to emulate in almost any station I visit.  Radio people are good people!



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