Friday, April 29, 2011

Fund-raising expenses

David BROWER of WUNC just told me that 23% of the WUNC budget goes to fund-raising. That's the cost, I am assuming, of employing and retaining people and the costs of the various "premiums" that they give away, including travel.

That means 25 cents of every contributed dollar goes to pay for something other than programming.

To put that in context, this is from here on the Charity Navigator site:

"Fundraising Expenses
Percent of total functional expenses spent on fundraising (lower is better)
Public Broadcasting and Media:

These charities use expensive air time to raise money, requiring a higher investment in their fundraising efforts and thus raising fundraising costs. Among these charities, the median fundraising expenses percentage is 15.3%, as compared to a median of 7.3% among all charities."

BROWER contends, by the way, that saying on air that "all" contributions go "right back into programming" is only misleading and not false.

For the 2009-10 fiscal year, this document (which is on the WUNC site after you click through a half dozen pages or so starting with "About") says that fund-raising expenses amounted to over $1,700,000. (That, interestingly, is more than 3 times the amount of money the station says it would lose if the station received no federal funds.)

The way this works - 25 cents of every dollar contributed goes into a kind of office pool for the trips and and the rest pays for the "gifts" that contributors receive.

When WUNC says that the trip to Italy is "made possible" by Panera Bread, I wonder what that means exactly and how it is counted if it is a contribution.

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