Complementing a traditional capital campaign, “Positive, Uplifting Word FM” is trying a new kind of fundraiser – inscribed bricks listeners personalize to include in a pathway the nonprofit plans to install at its new facility. This Christian radio station has been growing steadily by offering positive conversations and uplifting music and recently moved to a larger, more functional ministry building. Bricks that listeners reserve now will be used next spring to transform the new location’s nondescript, concrete sidewalk into something much more meaningful: a “Pathway to Hope.”
“We’re not selling bricks,” qualifies Jean Otto Ford, one of Word FM’s main FundRaiser users. “We’re asking listeners to support this ministry at specific giving levels (at minimum) that then offers them a unique opportunity to create a lasting expression of what Word FM means to them – or of hope, love, inspiration, tribute, etc. Listeners often tell us that our station plays a huge role in their day-to-day lives, and this campaign provides a way for all of us to celebrate that connection.”
Jean continues, “Word FM wants to build a legacy of hope. We chose ‘Pathway to Hope’ as the campaign’s title because Word FM itself, through its music, stories and ministries, acts as a pathway to services and truths offering real hope in our community. That’s what donors are really supporting.” She quickly adds, “But the physical walkway is also becoming a pathway of hope as many brick orders are coming in with powerful words of promise, comfort and encouragement. That’s exciting!”
Working Together Helps with Extra Steps
A brick fundraiser requires extra management but linking Word FM’s website to the brick company’s site, then integrating FundRaiser’s Donor Portal for payment processing, has made it quite manageable for this radio station – and its listeners. Donors first click a “to-order-brick” link on the station’s website, taking them to the brick company’s site. All brick-specific details (quantity, size, and inscription) are entered there; then donors are taken from the brick site to Donor Portal to pay. “It’s the first time we’ve done a fundraiser quite like this, and it’s working well so far,” says Jean.
“Pathway to Hope” kicked off strongly this spring with a live, on-air appeal. The goal is 700 bricks over a nine-month, multi-phase campaign. During the kickoff, donors committed to 115 bricks. “That was just the launch,” Jean explains. “We’ll also do one or two mailings yet this year, perhaps encouraging folks to reserve bricks as Christmas presents during our holiday or end-of-the-year appeals.” Donors giving $300 secure the opportunity to have a small brick (4”x8”) inscribed with something of their choosing; $500-or-more reserves the same opportunity on larger, square paver (8”x8”).
Integration with FundRaiser’s Donor Portal
Word FM not only likes how the brick company is handling listeners’ brick orders, but also how it merged its ordering system with Donor Portal for payment. “It’s a seamless partnership,” says Jean. “The donor selects which donation they’re pledging, then enters whatever he or she wants inscribed on the corresponding brick size (or ‘TBD’ to later decide the inscription). Once the brick site has that information, it automatically emails an order confirmation to the donor and then sends the donor over to Donor Portal for payment. Because donations are made through Donor Portal, brick donors receive the same ‘thank you’ and tax receipt we auto-email to any donor through FR, and FR’s gift-recording proceeds as it would for any donation.”
Additionally, Word FM decided the brick campaign’s requisite giving levels were large enough to justify the option of spreading pledges over two payments. “That’s one reason we chose to use Donor Portal to process the actual transactions and not the brick company. If a donor opted for two payments, we simply set up the donation in FundRaiser as a Recurring Gift Setup via credit card with semi-annual frequency and a specific next-process-date.” Most brick-order sites can’t accommodate installment payments.
Good Planning Is a Key to a Smooth Experience
When asked what suggestions she might have for other FundRaiser users interested in having their own brick campaigns, Jean mentioned how important it is to connect with the right brick company. “Do your research and compare brick companies. Think about how you want to handle payment, then partner with a company that can accommodate that process. Most brick-order sites can and will manage payment for you via PayPal or such – and that might seem easier in the short run – but doing so will likely limit donors’ payment options, you potentially lose out on capturing donor information, and all those donations would need to be entered into FR. By choosing Donor Portal over the brick site’s method to manage payment, FundRaiser could also track brick donations, eliminating duplicate data-entry. The company we chose was able to set it up that way.” Jean suggested these additional features to consider in a brick company: online ordering capabilities; free, customized, brick-order site design; and generous inscription parameters.
As the Campaign Moves Forward
The next step of Word FM’s brick campaign is a fall mailing. “FundRaiser will play a huge role in that upcoming appeal.” Jean explains, “The brick mailing will include elements typical of any fundraising mailing (letter with donation tear-off form, return envelopes, donation receipts, and ‘thank you’ letters) plus brick-order forms. As always, we’ll track all resulting giving and correspondence in FR. Additionally, we’ll again be driving donors to Word FM’s website to order bricks online, and our brick-order site will still link to Donor Portal for payment. We’re glad we set it up that way.”
At FundRaiser, we’re wishing Word FM continued success, and backing that up with support whenever they need it. We look forward to hearing the rest of the story and seeing the completed “Pathway to Hope.”