East Tennessee PBS, WHYY, Community Idea Stations and Georgia Public Broadcasting Garner Top Honors in 2017 PBS Development Awards

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SAN DIEGO, CA; May 18, 2017 East Tennessee PBS, WHYY, Community Idea Stations and Georgia Public Broadcasting were named today by PBS as the category winners for the 2017 PBS Development Awards, which recognizes member stations for outstanding corporate support, membership, philanthropy and special achievement fundraising efforts in local communities. The PBS Development Awards were presented at the first-annual DevDay, which followed the PBS Annual Meeting.

“Since our founding, development has served as the backbone of public media, ensuring that we have the resources and capacity needed to deliver on our mission today and in the future,” said Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “We are thrilled to recognize East Tennessee PBS, WHYY, Community Idea Stations and Georgia Public Broadcasting for their innovative leadership in fostering deep local support to sustain public television’s public service mission.”

East Tennessee PBS, which serves Knoxville and tri-cities regions of East Tennessee, was honored with the Corporate Support Award. The Membership Award was presented to WHYY, which serves Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Delaware Valley. Community Idea Stations, serving central Virginia, was named the Philanthropy Award winner. Georgia Public Broadcasting won the Special Achievement Award. The winner of the 2017 C. Scott Elliott Development Professional of the Year Award, announced earlier at the Annual Meeting, is Earl Blauner, Special Counsel, Gift Planning and Endowment, at KQED.

“In many ways, public media is about meeting viewers where they are – whether that’s over the air, via the internet or increasingly over mobile devices,” said Betsy Gerdeman, PBS Senior Vice President for Development Services. “The most effective fundraiser does the same thing for donors, reaching both longstanding and future donors with care and consideration for their time and what matters to them most: the impact of their giving on the community. This year’s recipients – East Tennessee PBS, WHYY, Community Idea Stations and Georgia Public Broadcasting – each embodied that aim with community-driven strategies.”

The Corporate Support Award recognizes leaders in public media for their success in securing new sources of corporate revenue, incorporating new techniques, or developing innovative strategies and targeted marketing efforts. East Tennessee PBS was recognized for its successful launch of PBS KIDS 24/7 Service. The station researched children’s viewing habits, identifying an undeniable opportunity to serve children in need of quality educational programming. East Tennessee PBS created unique packages and strategies to welcome seven new sponsors and generate $28,000 annually over a five-year period to fund this invaluable service.

The Membership Award recognizes successful membership strategies that have led to increases of net revenue, donor files or prospect pipeline, or the incorporation of new engagement activities resulting in increased giving. WHYY was cited for its commitment to black history content as a catalyst for new member acquisition. Through extensive strategic engagement, WHYY leveraged specific content – MANY RIVERS TO CROSS, BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK and THE BLACK PANTHERS – to reconnect with and retain existing members and acquire memberships from a more diverse demographic within their community. In only 18 months, WHYY acquired more than 3,500 new donors, prospects and members through a combination of pledge events and community engagement, including screening and panel discussions and historical tours. 

The Philanthropy Award recognizes successful fundraising efforts that directly strengthen a station’s financial sustainability. Community Idea Stations received recognition for its major giving program, the Commonwealth Circle. Through strategic cultivation and concurrent engagement strategies that encourage face-to-face interaction with donors and interactive stewardship, the Commonwealth Circle has seen a 139% increase in number of donors giving $1,000 or more and a 99% increase in revenue over a five-year period. Year over year, 92% of donors are retained. In 2016 alone, Commonwealth Circle revenue has helped fund community outreach, TV productions about local issues and three documentary productions, including one that aired nationally.

The Special Achievement Award recognizes successful projects that have a broader organizational or community reach, or outside a single discipline. Georgia Public Broadcasting won this category for its fundraising approach across all platforms. The station refined its internal operations and changed its staff structure to give more team members a stake in development goals. Performance ratings were based on overall organizational fundraising success rather than individual goals. This led to GPB’s overall development revenue growth from $4.8 million in FY13 to $7.4 million in FY16 (with $1 million year-over-year increases). The station’s sustainer program grew from $264,000 to more than $1.1 million, with the aim of inducing half of all donors to become sustainers by 2018.

About PBS
PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a new 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

Aparna Kumar, PBS, ahkumar@pbs.org; 703-739-5028