New York City Public Television Station Aims for Fifty Thousand New Donors

Channel Thirteen (WNET), the New York City public television station that will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in September, is launching a campaign to boost its membership by fifty thousand new donors over the next eighteen months, the New York Times reports.

The station, which reaches 3.3 million viewers a week, currently has approximately 180,000 members — down from 350,000 in 2003 — who contribute some $22 million annually, or about 16 percent of the station's operating budget. According to a Corporation for Public Broadcasting report published in June, individual contributions to local public television stations in 2010 accounted for 22 percent of the stations' incomes on average.

The report also found that charitable giving for public television fell 13 percent between 2005 and 2010 — a development attributed to the economic downturn, increased competition from other nonprofit organizations, and an "apparent shift" away from giving for the arts and culture.

Although a basic WNET membership costs $60 annually, the new campaign will encourage supporters to give at any level with which they are comfortable. "It's a pretty ambitious goal, we know that," Lisa Mantone, WNET's vice president for development and communications, told the Times. "But we feel that it's within the realm of something we can achieve....We know they're watching us."

Elizabeth Jensen. "WNET, for 50th, Eyes 50,000 Donors." New York Times 07/03/2012.