In September of 2022, WFDD introduced a new initiative to aid us in learning more about our audience…what they understand about the station and what they most enjoy about our community. We called this initiative “We Were Wondering…” and launched it with a question about how the station is funded: “Is it your sense that the majority of WFDD listeners are donors?”

10% of respondents answered “yes,” with the remaining 90% answering “no.” This is good news because it means that our dedicated listeners generally understand this statistic related to our funding. The 90% of respondents who answered “no” were correct. Approximately 10% of listeners donate to WFDD, which is typical for public radio as a whole, and has been the case for many, many years.


of listeners donate

It is our goal to learn more about the reasons why 90% of the public radio audience doesn’t donate, in hopes of increasing the percentage of those who do, because increasing that percentage would provide for greater public service and expanded news coverage, something that grows ever more important as other news outlets shrink.

Let’s do some quick math. WFDD’s average gift is about $194. If just an additional 2% of our audience were to make the shift to donating, that would equate to another $431,456 in support for local, national, and global news.

Some respondents to our September question shared compelling comments, several noting the effect a larger percentage of donors would have on the need for on-air fund drives:

“It seems there would be no need for the Fund drive if the majority of listeners knew that it takes a LOT of $ to have the wonderful programs and pay the amazing WFDD staff. If all listeners did THEIR part and supported WFDD, the fund drive would not be needed! I LOVE WFDD and my car and kitchen radios know no other station!!!”

“If half of listeners were donors, I imagine there would only need to be one Fund Drive per year. I enjoy what I get from being a listener, so I donate.”

Based on the math shared above, these listeners are correct. Increasing the percentage of listeners who donate would allow for fewer on-air fundraising days, potentially eliminating them entirely, depending on how much that percentage were to grow. As it stands now, though, on-air fund drives remain an effective way to educate listeners about our funding model and bring in the money necessary to our public service.

Other respondents weighed in on the ease of supporting the station:

“I think there are far too many people that…think it's difficult (spoiler alert: it's not!). I doubt that anyone that listens regularly feels like it's not worth the investment, though!”

“The monthly account draft is the easiest way to donate! Set it & forget it. WFDD/NPR is worth way more than I can afford to donate - it’s the only station I listen to. Thank you!”

We try to make it as simple as possible for listeners to support WFDD. Donating on our secured website only takes a few short minutes. And setting up an amount to be automatically drafted on an ongoing monthly basis (a Sustaining gift), can be easy on the budget and ensures year-round support for WFDD.

Another respondent noted that they “listened for many years” before donating. And this is common. A study called the “Stairway to Given” showed that it takes an average of three to five years of dedicated listening before a listener will make the leap to being a donor.

And lastly, one respondent shared that the funding model can be a bit confusing. We want to help alleviate that confusion by doing a better job of explaining how we’re funded. You may have heard us say that over 86% of our funding comes from the community, and that’s true. That’s from our underwriters (business support) and from individual donors, with the largest chunk of that from listeners. Support from our licensee, Wake Forest University, is about 5% of our budget. And support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), in the form of a community service grant, is about 7% of our budget. This is the structure for WFDD. There are other stations for which the percentage of licensee or CPB support is greater, and others for which it is lesser. We hope the primary takeaway is that without listener support, WFDD would not be here, and increased listener support would result in more public service and greater stability for this beloved public radio station. You can read more about why your support matters here.

“A lot of people don't understand what is ‘public ' about public radio, especially since government funding has been reduced so significantly and that corporations ‘bring’ programs to listeners on public radio. Not exactly advertising, but yes, corporate advertising. So it's a confusing picture.”

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