KPFA’s Fall Fund Drive ends early, short

Music programmer David Gans and Luis Medina, KPFA's music director.
Music programmer David Gans and Luis Medina, KPFA's music director.

In an encouraging sign that KPFA’s management is serious about trying to rein in the length of fund drives, KPFA’s Fall Fund Drive ended last Friday, after 19 days of fundraising — five days shorter than the previous year’s. It also ended short of its goal by roughly $140,000.

KPFA is trying to make up some of the difference through online pledges — so we encourage you to contribute at kpfa.org.

Some context: KPFA was forced to lengthen its fund drives dramatically over the past two years to compensate for the drop in pledging after now-ousted Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt axed KPFA’s Morning Show.

One of the greatest challenges facing KPFA is to find a way to shorten its fund drives before it’s trapped in a downward spiral of diminishing returns and dropping listenership from too much airtime devoted to asking for support.

KPFA’s interim manager took a step in the right direction when he returned former Morning Show co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert to morning drive time, with the introduction of UpFront weekdays at 7 AM. On its first day, the program delivered KPFA’s top fundraising totals — and has ever since. The money raised during UpFront in KPFA’s Summer Fund Drive helped make that drive the first in years to both end on schedule and beat its goal.

New approach to fund drives?

In the current drive, UpFront‘s fundraising has continued to grow, but the station overall was flagging. Fall fundraisers have historically been hard for KPFA in Presidential election years, as the elections tend to siphon off donations, time and attention. Facing daily totals that would have required the station to extend the drive  to four weeks or more to make goal, management decided to end it and make a strong appeal to listeners to support that effort.

It paid off: in the three days after KPFA announced it would end its fund drive early, the station raised more money than in the previous eight days. And while KPFA may need to add a few days of fundraising in December to make up the difference, it will be far fewer days than KPFA would have had to extend its Fall fund drive to actually make its goal.

Now, KPFA is back to producing strong, uninterrupted programming — the kind of work that is especially important in the run-up to a major election. We think it’s a step in the right direction, and SaveKPFA is strongly encouraging KPFA listeners to show their support by pledging online at kpfa.org/support.

There is a second reason it’s important to support KPFA right now: the station’s new fiscal year has begun, Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg has extended her grip on office by tying up the recall vote count in court, and we fully expect her to use the fund drive shortfall as an pretext to push for retaliatory cuts at KPFA in the weeks to come.

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