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UNC-TV ramping up fundraising

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By Todd Cohen

In July 2004, based on work with a consultant funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, UNC-TV launched a retooled effort to secure “major” gifts of $1,000 or more from individuals.

In the fiscal year that ends June 30, the 11-station statewide TV network hopes to raise $350,000 through gifts of that size.

Also based on its work with the consultant, UNC-TV last July began soliciting “planned” gifts that involve deferred gifts or those involving assets other than cash.

In the last fiscal year, income from bequests totaled $93,000, and the network already has received two charitable-gift annuities.

Now, UNC-TV is testing the feasibility of a capital campaign that could total $5 million to $10 million.

It also is launching an effort to solicit gifts ranging from $250 to $999 and position the donors to “graduate” to larger gifts.

All those fundraising plans are focused on developing the network’s original programming and maximizing the use of the digital technology to which its 11 stations converted in May 2003, says Dolores James, assistant general manager and development director.

With an annual budget of $27 million, UNC-TV receives $12 million from the state, raises $10 million in private support, and receives the remainder through a combination of federal and private grants.

Of that total it raises privately, individual gifts account for roughly $8 million, and corporate and foundation support totals $2 million.

Individual giving includes $2 million raised through two on-air fund drives, with the remainder through a combination of direct-mail appeals, telemarketing, matching gifts, online giving, coupons in its monthly Centerpiece magazine, and vehicle donations.

So far this fiscal year, total private fundraising is 11 percent ahead the same period in the last fiscal year, James says.

To boost its planned gifts and major gifts, she says, UNC-TV has stepped up efforts to engage donors and keep them informed about its programs.

To help record and archive the stories of the state’s World War II veterans, for example, UNC-TV soliciting gifts from individuals and corporations.

UNC-TV also wants to raise $100,000 in the current fiscal year through online giving, up from $68,000 last year, and has created a new “sustainer” program that already has roughly 100 members and let people make gifts of at least $5 a month, with the funds automatically withdrawn from their checking accounts.

The North Carolina Public Television Foundation has hired Raleigh fundraising firm Capital Development Services to test the feasibility of a capital campaign by talking to donors and prospective donors, asking them about original programming and their interest in funding it.

UNC-TV also benefits from a $200,000 endowment at the foundation, which consists of funds generated through special events and the sale of videotapes and is overseen by the foundation’s board of directors, and a $4 million endowment for UNC-TV that is overseen by UNC-TV’s appointed board of trustees and consists of gifts made by donors in memory or honor of individuals.

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