This American Debate

2 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Today’s guest post is from Doug Naegele, founder of mobile media firm Infield Communications. An avid SmartBrief on Social Media reader and inveterate entrepreneur, Doug helps organizations use mobile media to reach important audiences.

Last Friday, Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life, which boasts 1.7 million listeners a week, posted a unique fundraising idea on Facebook for its 125,000 fans to read. Listeners could “Turn in a Friend” who doesn’t donate, and show host Ira Glass would call the offender personally and ask for a donation.

The resulting Facebook comment stream was a fascinating mix of support (“Have a sense of humor, people!”) disappointment, (“Ira, I’ve lost my job and medical insurance. Putting people on the spot is *not * cool”) and public radio financial debate (“I want to see your financials before I give”).

The debate seemed to pit This American Life super fans, many of which wanted to turn themselves in just to get a call from Ira Glass, against the more casual listeners who said they found the whole exercise “distasteful, cringe-indicing, and horrible” By the end of the campaign, many longtime listeners were urging the show to stop giving away its podcasts for free and just charge everyone — which, of course, falls in opposition to the mission of public radio.

So, what do you think? What constitutes going too far when soliciting donations using social media? How can organizations use social media effectively to raise funds in challenging economic times?

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