Why Your Low-Power FM Radio Station Needs Text-to-GiveBy Eric Bryant,
If you’re a producer at a radio station — especially a low-power FM radio station — you should really consider a text to donate service. Last year, during the San Francisco wild fires, we worked with Cumulus Radio to help KSFO, KFOG, The Bone, KNBR and KGO810 raise approximately $300,000 for the Bay Area Fire Relief Fund. Currently, WDIF 97.5 FM, a low-power FM station in Marion, Ohio, is using our innovative SMS donations service to raise funds for its nonprofit.
How Text to Donate Benefits LPFMs?
Every LPFM radio station is required by law to be associated with a charity or nonprofit of some sort. Therefore, SMS donations are a win-win, because they give LPFM radio stations an easy way to fulfill their charitable requirements. Text to give also makes it easier to find sponsors as well as raise funds for their nonprofits.
For example, WDIF 97.5 is sponsored by US Gold Jewelers, a local Marion, OH business. US Gold sponsors our text to give service on behalf of WDIF-LP, and in exchange WDIF promotes the local jeweler on its station. Using text to donate enhances your LPFM station’s marketing and revenue generation.
“We approach local businesses as a regular radio station does. We said, ‘Hey we have this text to donate service that runs every hour. We're looking for a sponsor,’” said Spencer Phelps, radio host at WDIF 97.5 After Phelps announces WDIF’s SMS donation number and call to action (“Text BLUES to 77948 …”) they immediately follow it up with: “Powered by US Gold Jewelers of Marion, OH” (one of their sponsors).
It makes the audience feel good that they are supporting charity; US Gold gets a plug every hour; and, WDIF gets new supporters and donors. It’s an all around win!
Text to Donate Works Well with Radio Call to Actions
One reason text to donate works so well with radio is because the call to actions are simple and memorable when done over the airways. Prompting your listeners to “text BLUES to 77948 to support this radio station” is easy to remember, makes an indelible impression on the listener if heard over and over, and isn’t a long commercial. Plus, listeners carry their mobile devices with them everywhere, so you will build up a subscriber base of listeners you can text later on with other news or promotions.
How to Get Started with SMS Donations for Your LPFM
Getting started is easy. Just follow these simple steps:
Choose a keyword that will trigger your donation sequence. Most radio stations just use their call sign, such as KSFO or KGo810. However, WDIF 97.5 uses the word BLUES, since it is a blues radio station. Your keyword can be any combination of letters and numbers. Must be 4 or more characters. No spaces or special characters.
Once you have your keyword in mind, head over to the order form.
Choose your package, supply your PayPal email, or give us the link to your donation page, if you don’t use PayPal. (If you don’t have PayPal or your own payment processor, you can use us).
Give us your text message reply.
Once you pay, we set up your keyword on our short code, which is 77948, usually within the hour.
That’s it — it’s that simple. After you set up your text to donate service (or before if preferable), we recommend you do what WDIF does: find a local business to sponsor your SMS donation service, that way your nonprofit doesn’t have to pay for it. You can fairly easily attract a local sponsor by giving them free publicity or air time in exchange for their sponsorship. This way, the business gets free advertising, and your station get a free way to generate recurring revenue in the form of donations.
What Does LPFM Stand For?
If you’re not familiar with what Low-Power FM (LPFM) radio means, it is a class of radio station established in the 2000s designed specifically for non-commercial radio programming. The LPFM is a license by the FCC to such organizations, like community radio stations, who will operate on a not-for-profit basis and provide educational or public service programming.
The “low-power” part refers to the wattage that these radio stations can broadcast. It's a special class of nonprofit radio that is only allowed to operate at a maximum broadcast power of 100 watts, which is roughly the size of your average county. The wattage limit is in place so smaller communities get a voice on the dial without having to compete with larger, commercial radio stations. There are between 1,200 and 2,000 LPFM radio stations in the U.S.