A crowdfunding pledge drive by U92 The Moose utilized services from the WVU Foundation and the on-air talent of student broadcasters like Sophie Northup (left) and Mason Lee to raise valuable funds for the WVU college radio station.
On Valentine’s Day this year, the West Virginia University campus radio station, U92 The Moose, asked its listeners, alumni and supporters to pledge their love for the station that has meant so much to so many.
Since 1982, WWVU-FM, known as U92 The Moose, has provided valuable broadcasting and producing opportunities for students at WVU while also giving listeners a place to hear unique music and sports content both on the FM airwaves and online.
In order to support U92 operations, facility upgrades, travel expenses and more, U92 Broadcast Advisor Alex Wiederspiel and his colleagues at the radio station decided to hold a pledge drive, a popular crowdfunding strategy used by college radio stations throughout the country.
The first step for Wiederspiel and U92 was to establish how the radio station would structure the drive on their end. The timing of the upcoming drive was an easy decision. Throughout the history of U92, unique Valentine’s Day programming had become common, with the last big event U92 held prior to the pandemic being a Feb. 14 holiday special. For this pledge drive in 2023, resurrecting the success of these previous events provided a natural timeframe for this event.
From there, deciding how the pledge would work was next. Wiederspiel and U92 did not want to simply ask for money but rather provide an incentive to donate and give something back to the listeners and pledge supporters. A 36-hour programming marathon was created, providing a unique and fun experience that could both entertain and motivate those who were tuned in.
“We planned a marathon of programming,” Wiederspiel said of the plan for the pledge drive. “We’re going to be on the air with live, unique voices for 36 consecutive hours. During that time, all of our promotional copy and all of our ad copy is going to be about this pledge drive.”
With the time and programming in place, U92 sought out ways to put develop the infrastructure necessary to take and process donations. Having students and U92 employees available to answer phones and process donations for 36 consecutive hours was a challenging task, so Wiederspiel reached out to the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising arm of WVU, to aid in this crowdfunding effort.
“We collaborated with U92 and built the page for them. But they did all the marketing and PR on their end,” WVU Foundation Executive Director of Annual Giving Kristen Shipp said. “Crowdfunding is a great way to promote particular programs and raise money through a collective effort. Crowdfunding allows you to share your story and raise awareness while also providing an easy and convenient way for people to donate.”
With the crowdfunding webpage established, the on-air programming copy and social media posts from U92 told listeners and supporters how to donate by directing them to the U92 website, which linked to the crowdfunding page. In addition to providing a place for donations, the WVU Foundation-created webpage also lent a sense of credibility to the U92 campaign.
“What the Foundation really provided was a sense of safety,” Wiederspiel said. “They knew where their money was going, which was directly to U92 because it was backed by a well-known entity in the WVU Foundation. This was such a huge relief for us not to worry about how the back end was going to work. We just went out and promoted what we were doing, and the Foundation’s website did the rest.”
The partnership was a resounding success. Initially, Wiederspiel and U92 hoped to average $100 worth of donations an hour for a total of $3,600. When all was said and done, U92 saw 74 total donors provide $9,059 worth of financial support, which more than doubled their fundraising goal.
“These gifts are critical in helping us keep up with the increasing demands for modern equipment,” Wiederspiel said. “Plus, we can invest this money directly in our students who travel to events regularly. Paying for travel is always tricky, particularly with the unpredictable nature of covering collegiate sports.”
Wiederspiel pointed to both the rabid support from the loyal U92 alumni and listener base and the security and infrastructure provided by the WVU Foundation as key factors in making the pledge drive crowdfunding effort a success.
“This was a student media operation,” Wiederspiel said. “The entire professional staff helped put this together, which included coming up with acceptable giveaway items and making sure the students were fed by our wonderful sponsors during the event.”