(By Buzz Knight) No sector has been left untouched by Covid 19. Every industry has been stressed in a scenario no one could have planned for. The Non-Profit/Charity sector is one that needs to be spotlighted so it can be helped.
The pandemic has increased the demand for services that the organizations provide, while along the way damaging their staffs and their finances. It’s a terrible convergence and the full degree of the impact is hard to predict.
Radio has always played an important role in working to help causes and non-profits over the history of the business.
I think it is worth asking the question ‘Is Radio doing the best it can to help Non-Profits/Charities at this difficult time?’
Just as an important reminder on the legal responsibilities of an FCC license owner I asked for clarity from David Oxenford, partner at Wilkinson/Barker/Knauer in D.C. David’s industry expertise covers a wide range of topics and he provides important clarity for this discussion.
“Formal ascertainments have not been required for any broadcaster for about 30 years,” said Oxenford. “But stations still have to informally determine the needs and interests of their community and address those interests in their programming as reflected each quarter in their Quarterly Issues Programs Lists.”
Maybe one suggestion for the industry is to remove informally and make it FORMALLY for the foreseeable future? Could radio managers delve deeper into their markets to be certain they are truly determining the community needs as it relates to charities?
Consideration should be given to researching those local needs by tapping station databases for listener feedback.
To get a sense of how Non-Profits are faring I asked Paul Medeiros, CEO of the Massachusetts Chapter of Easter Seals what the impact has been.
“As a community based service Non Profit the biggest impact for Easter Seals has been: Reduced ability to work with clients in person is the number one impact and issue as we always go to the clients environment to provide the best service, said Medeiros. “We have had to transition to a lot of remote work. Constant work to keep our employees and clients safe as the rules and regulations change on an almost daily basis. Reduced ability to meet donors and volunteers and help them learn about Easter Seals.”
I’m sure there are other areas of concern Medeiros hasn’t touched on such as reducing staff hours and other ‘pain point’ decisions to help them have economic stability. I asked him how radio could potentially be helpful.
“Because Radio is a remote industry, it could help us spread the word on what services we have available. We provide many free services that are not fully utilized because people don’t know we are here. Help rally support from the organization from potential volunteers and donors,” said Medeiros. “There are a lot of generous people out there who just want to know there is help needed. Some of our clients would benefit from exposure for their own businesses that they create after working with Easter Seals and they have compelling stories to tell.”
I also wanted to get a sense on how another great organization is faring during these Covid challenged times. Home Base is a Non-Profit/Charity benefiting veterans in the Boston area run by The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Their Executive Director is Retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond who has a remarkable record of service to our country spanning operational experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and Paraguay.
“This is a very difficult time. As you can imagine many of our fundraising efforts involve events of different types,” said Hammond. “Many grass root community driven. Our largest event-the Run to Home Base held at Fenway Park was initially cancelled, and then it became a virtual race (raising half the projected funds), as was our Veterans Day Gala, and a number of golf tournaments. There has also been a tightening of the spikes from a number of corporate partners, based upon competing demands both Covid and social justice related support.”
“We were effectively able to deal with 2020 budget shortfall of 20% through a number of measures to close out the year above water. The wounded and injured veterans and military families we still treat still require our care and during this pandemic their issues have become worse-with a 20% increase in military suicide from March to September 2020.”
Now would be an excellent time for radio station managers to sharpen their commitment to Non-Profits and charities. Radio has always been critical to the successful work of these organizations especially in times of need. It always matters but it matters especially NOW.
Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]