Frequently Asked Questions
Is WPR a nonprofit?
Yes. The Wisconsin Public Radio Association (WPRA) is the official name of the nonprofit 501(c)(3) fundraising arm of Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR). When you donate to WPR, you’re really donating to the WPRA and becoming a member of the WPRA.
Visit our Wisconsin Public Radio Association page to learn more.
How much of WPR’s budget goes to pay for the WPR programs I listen to?
Seventy-one cents of every dollar in our operating budget goes toward programming (creating and buying programs, and broadcasting them).
Does WPR receive tax-payer support?
Yes, state and federal tax dollars do support Wisconsin Public Radio (see Federal (CPB) and Direct State/Univ on the revenue graph). However, without the significant portion of our budget that comes from listeners — the largest source of revenue — we would not be able to continue operations.
How does Wisconsin Public Radio rate on fundraising metrics?
WPR ranks favorably with respect to fundraising. Fourteen percent of all WPR expenses are fundraising expenses. WPR spends about 26 cents to raise each dollar from listeners and business sponsors. Both of these metrics are within favorable ranges for Public Broadcasting and Media organizations as reported by Charity Navigator. See Charity Navigator metrics for Fundraising Expense and Fundraising Efficiency and WPR’s most recent Annual Report for more detail.
How much money does WPR need to do business each year?
WPR needs approximately 20 million dollars a year to operate our three networks — the Ideas Network, the NPR News & Music Network, and the HD Classical Music Network — all over the state of Wisconsin and online. Of that 20 million, nearly 10 million comes from listener contributions (membership) and approximately 3 million comes from corporations (business sponsorship).
Is my donation to Wisconsin Public Radio tax-deductible?
Yes. Wisconsin Public Radio is a 501(c)(3) organization and your donation to WPR is tax-deductible, minus the fair-market value of any thank-you gift you received. Your Wisconsin Public Radio tax letter will list any thank-you gifts you received and show the total tax-deductible amount. Tax letters are sent immediately after every gift is paid in full, and in January for any installment gifts made during the year.
How many donors does WPR have?
We have about 50,000 donors. “Donors” are defined as individuals or households who have made a financial contribution in the past twelve months.
Why do you have member drives?
Member drives are the most effective and efficient way to explain how we’re funded and ask for support.
Listeners are the largest source of funding for WPR programs! And listener support is a key reason why WPR is able to maintain editorial independence.
New members are an important part of keeping WPR healthy and member drives are the best way to communicate directly with listeners who haven’t yet become members.
Member drives are also an effective way to ask people to become sustainers or increase their current sustaining gift. Sustainers are increasingly important to the long-term reliability of our funding.
In addition, member drives are a great way to ask those who haven’t donated for a few years to rejoin, and where a great number of people choose to renew their annual support or make additional donations.
We’re always experimenting and evolving to make member drives more effective and enjoyable, and appreciate listener feedback to help us do so.
How many member drives do you have each year?
We have four member drives each year to raise a significant portion of the funds that create WPR programs … and they succeed with the generosity of our donors!
The drives are at similar times each year, though they vary in length as we experiment with ways to be the most effective with our on-air time. Here are the upcoming member drive dates, which are subject to change as the fundraising landscape changes.
- Wednesday, February 28, 2024
- Tuesday, April 30 – Wednesday, May 8, 2024
How do you schedule member drives?
A lot of thought goes into planning member drives so that they are as successful, efficient and enjoyable as possible. The main considerations for scheduling member drives are:
- Timing of charitable giving patterns throughout the year (the peak giving season is October-May)
- Timing of our other campaigns
- Holidays, elections or other big events
- Successful pledging days (for example, Saturdays are great for us)
- Timing of national program fundraiser show delivery
Within all these guidelines, we also aim for as much separation between drives as possible.
How do you decide how long member drives should be?
The number of member drive days is determined by our budgetary needs. We’re always experimenting with new approaches to make our member drives more effective, which usually means our drive lengths and total days will change from one year to the next.
Most public radio stations have found that they must have 27 member drive days a year for optimum financial health. WPR generally has 20 to 26 member drive days per year.
There’s a big emphasis on sustainers … do one-time gifts help, too?
Yes, all kinds of gifts help!
Sustainers provide long-term, stable, predictable funding, which is a great help to the WPR budget. We’re happy to report that nearly half of our members are sustainers.
However, one-time gifts are also crucial to WPR’s budget and we always want members to donate in a way that’s most comfortable for them. We’re thankful for gifts of any amount, made in any way.
Will member drives go away with more sustainers?
Member drives will continue to be part of our strategy. Drives are still the single-most effective way to ask listeners for financial support. They’re the best way to get new members, new sustainers and to ask current members to increase and renew their support. About 25 percent of listener support comes in through the member drives … so they’re really important!
How do you decide how much time to spend talking in a member drive?
We follow best practices established by research in public radio, which say that about 20 minutes per hour is the most effective amount of time to spend making these requests. We do spend a little more or a little less time based on timings within an individual program.
Do you have a member-drive-free stream available for current members?
At this point, we’re not able to create a member-drive-free stream that is truly WPR programming. This is largely due to the great volume of daily local programming we create and associated rights issues for some of those shows.
Aside from member drives, how else do you raise money from listeners?
We raise significant funds through mail (renewals, end of calendar year, end of fiscal year, other special mailings, and acquisitions mail). We also ask for support via door-to-door canvassing, email, on-air promotions, and tile ads on wpr.org. We telemarket current and lapsed donors. Sustainers (donors who give monthly and whose support automatically renews each year) are becoming an ever-more important source of funding for WPR.
Do you have a suggestion for additional funding FAQs?
Voluntary contributions from individuals.
Money from the state (tax dollars) and university in the form of GPR (general program revenue) support.
The WPR studios are located on the UW campuses. This category represents the value of WPR’s use of UW System facilities and administrative support. Examples include WPR’s portion of expenses for UW human resources and the use of our offices.
Contributions made by local businesses and companies, sometimes referred to as “underwriting” or “business sponsorship.”
Money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that is granted to WPR (based on the amount of non-federal financial support we receive).
State Building Trust Funds, Public Telecommunications Facilities Program and Corporation for Public Broadcasting Digital Conversion Grants.
Merchandise and ticket sales and interest earnings on UW Trust Fund account for WPR.
Payments from Public Radio Exchange (PRX), the distributor of WPR’s national programs, “Zorba Paster On Your Health” and “To the Best of Our Knowledge.”
Production, acquisition and transmission of programs.
Costs incurred in the solicitation of membership and business sponsorship revenue.
Management and administrative costs, including in-kind support provided by the UW System.