|Where does WUMB Radio get its operating funds?
The annual cash budget for WUMB Radio (excluding special projects such as the Annual Music Festival and Summer Acoustic Music Week) is approximately $1.3 million. WUMB receives no direct financial support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The station receives 21% of its budget from the University of Massachusetts Boston to cover some salaries, telephone and postage costs. Contributions from listeners in particular, businesses and local organizations represent WUMB's single largest and most important source of income, accounting for more than 48% of the station's annual operating budget. Public funds, such as grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, make up 23% of WUMB's annual operating budget.
WUMB's goal is to increasingly diversify our sources of funding to provide more stability over time. Each of our current funding sources is detailed below.
WUMB receives contributions from more than 6,000 listeners each year, accounting for slightly more than 40% of the station's annual operating budget. While our on-air pledge drive is the most recognizable of our fundraising programs, WUMB offers a variety of giving options to make it as easy as possible for listeners to contribute to the station.
On-Air Fund Drives
These drives bring in about 40% of the station's annual individual support income, with about a third of the station's individual donors choosing to contribute in this manner.
Although the cost of raising money through on-air fund drives is relatively high — on-air drives have consistently proven to be the best way that public radio has found to bring new donors to the station, and to secure repeat contributions from current donors, by reaching the people who are using the service.
WUMB schedules two big pledge drives a year — spring and fall, each eleven days. WUMB limits its on-air fundraising to only 22 days per year, which is on the low end for public radio stations overall.
WUMB's renewal rate ranks among the best in public radio nationally — good news, since it costs significantly less to keep an existing donor than to attract a new one. Because WUMB has a diversified base of funding compared to many other public radio stations nationally, we are less dependent on the on-air drive than many stations.
We know that many listeners don't enjoy hearing the on-air fund drives — believe us, if we could do without them, we would! — but the reality is that public radio stations need a very large individual donor base that only these drives can provide. The on-air fund drive is like putting out a big welcome mat to get people to come in. Most people listen for several years (the average is four years) before they make their first donation, and most make their first donation through an on-air drive — the first step in becoming a long-term contributor.
While the on-air fund drives bring in the most new donors — WUMB renews a majority of donors through our direct mail program. More than half of the money received from WUMB listeners comes in through the direct mail program.
Listeners who renew their contributions in response to our mail requests contribute at a higher rate, helping to make mail the most cost-efficient fundraising option for the station. Typically, the longer people give, the more reliable their giving is, and people who renew by mail tend to be much more inclined to renew annually or to make an additional gift.
WUMB sends out mailings year-round asking current and past donors to renew their support for the station.
For Internet-savvy listeners who want to make a contribution online — WUMB offers a secure pledge page on this website that's available 24 hours a day. The website offers a convenient way for listeners to support the station, and serves as an additional option for listeners to contribute during on-air fund drives. Approximately 11% of contributions to WUMB are made through the website; most of these contributions are associated with an on-air drive.
About 8% of WUMB's budget comes from corporate support, also called "underwriting," those on-air announcements stating that "Support for WUMB comes from our listeners and...." WUMB credits underwriting from local businesses and organizations that contribute directly to WUMB. These credits are different from the credits for underwriting heard on nationally syndicated programs from National Public Radio and Public Radio International, which is arranged directly with the national organization. Most underwriting support comes in the form of cash; occasionally, WUMB arranges to acknowledge businesses on-air for in-kind contributions of goods or services.
While some people may think of these on-air acknowledgements as "advertising," because WUMB is a non-commercial broadcaster and underwriting is used to acknowledge a donation to the station, these announcements actually fall into a different legal category. The station must adhere to specific Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines that govern non-commercial broadcasters, with many restrictions as to what we can and cannot say. We cannot, for example, use much of the promotional language that you'd hear on a commercial radio station.
Even with the tight guidelines, many businesses and organizations find underwriting to be a cost-effective way to reach a public radio audience, with a message that does not get lost in a sea of ads.
WUMB receives 23% of its operating budget from approximately a dozen federal, state and other grants each year. These are grants that require the station to obtain matching funds from individual supporters; some grants require as much as a 50% match from local funds.
WUMB receives an annual Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation funded by federal appropriations authorized by the U.S. Congress. CPB is a completely separate entity from National Public Radio, American Public Media and Public Radio International. CPB does not create any programming itself, but it helps fund many of the programs you hear on NPR, APM and PRI. CPB distributes annual grants to qualifying public telecommunications entities to augment the financial resources and enhance the quality of programming and expand the scope of services. Approximately $45,000 of this grant money is used primarily to pay satellite costs and annual dues and fees for syndicated public radio programs such as Mountain Stage, American Routes and Writers Almanac.
Note: Funding for National Public Radio, American Public Media and Public Radio International is completely separate from the radio station. WUMB is a member of NPR and APM, and pays annual membership dues to both organizations.
This past year, WUMB received the final payment for a Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) “Station Renewal Grant” to help the station better meet CPB’s criteria.
Currently, WUMB also has federal matching fund from the National Endowment for the Arts to conduct its Big Read: Boston project. The station is using these funds to support a literary reading program in greater Boston schools, libraries and local community organizations.
WUMB also receives matching funds from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
WUMB also receives a small amount of revenue by producing various special events such as an on-line auction, CD & LP sale, and a Guitar Clinic.
While they are both an integral part of WUMB, the Annual WUMB Music Fest and Summer Acoustic Music Week each maintain its own separate budget to keep income and expenses separate from the radio station operations.
Indirect University Support
In general, WUMB is responsible for raising most of its own funds to cover operating expenses. Only the station’s cash support is reflected in the graph above.
However, as WUMB's license-holder, UMass Boston is legally responsible for providing the station with assistance, guidance and service in the areas of accounting, legal, purchasing, human resources, facilities management and other basic services needed to ensure that the license is being held in compliance with federal law. All contracts and grants are arranged through the University's legal office, and all legal work for FCC compliance is approved through that office. While WUMB pays nearly all of the staff salaries and benefits through its self-generated resources, all staff members are considered state employees, so the University assists with hiring practices, personnel services and job postings as required by law. In general, the University provides oversight to make sure that WUMB remains in compliance with all University and state policies. The University's indirect and in-kind donations are valued at about $800,000 per year, from a formula provided by the U.S. Department of Heath & Human Services for UMass Boston on-campus departments. No money is exchanged for this in-kind support.
On occasion, WUMB negotiates with local businesses to provide goods or services that the station would otherwise pay for in the course of doing business. In exchange, WUMB provides on-air acknowledgements equivalent to the value of the services provided. These in-kind donations include advertising, maintenance services, and volunteer hospitality. The value of in-kind donations this fiscal year was $42,250.