Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Herding cats

VPR's Membership Drive begins today. Thank goodness - I can relax! As Senior Producer at VPR, I coordinate the work of many people who make the drive happen on the air and on the web.

Launching a public radio membership drive takes several weeks of orchestrating dozens of moving parts. As the calendar counts down to the opening day, my to-do list only seems to get longer. But once the drive is underway, it's all in the hands of VPR's well prepared staff and generous listeners.

The whole process reminds me of when I was 8 or 9 years old. My favorite toy was my Erector Set: dozens of little metal beams, bolts, angles, gears and motors that could become a skyscraper, a space ship, an earth-mover or anything my imagination could attach a motor to.

The moving parts in a pledge drive involve people, ideas, copy, audio, computers, telephones, and supporting partners... as well as, Facebook and Twitter. The glue that holds it all together is the shared enthusiasm, creative energy and commitment that VPR staff bring to every drive.

While coordinating VPR’s Membership Drive can be frazzling and exhausting - it's also quite invigorating. I love the synergy of the entire VPR Community coming together: staff members who don't normally work side by side; volunteers who come from near and far to answer the phones; corporate partners who donate enticing drawing prizes; contributing listeners (who actually love VPR so much they stay tuned through the pledge drive) and donors who offer challenges and matches to encourage others to give.

When everyone does their part, it runs like a dream and we reach our goal. It's like throwing the switch on my latest Erector Set creation and watching it whirr to life.

For those of you too young to remember Erector Sets, click here.

Slate magazine recently published a fun article about pledge drives that was quickly emailed throughout the public radio world. It gave us all the chance to laugh at ourselves. To read it, click here.

And the number to call is... 1-800-639-6391, or pledge online at

Franny Bastian
Senior Producer

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