Member Drive FAQ

How Important are Member Drives?

Each year, MPR receives funding from a variety of sources, including regional businesses, events, foundations and institutional sponsors. The largest source of that funding is contributions from individual members and donors like you.

In order to continue the high quality programming you’ve come to expect from the stations you listen to – and improve upon it in the year to come, MPR is hoping to receive 157,600 Member Gifts in Fiscal Year 2017 (July 2016 through June 2017). These Member Gifts come from multiple sources, see the chart below for full details.

You can join the team of Members who make MPR an invaluable resource in your life – and this community – by making your Member Gift today at or by calling 1-800-227-2811.

Why does MPR need Member Drives?

We do Member drives because we are different than other media organizations. We believe in a direct accountability to our audiences, and drives provide regular opportunities for our audiences to support what we do. We trust that as we create value for audiences and invite them to support what we are about and what we create, listeners will want to be a part of helping to fulfill our vision to be an indispensable resource for our audiences and an essential public service for our communities.

On-air fundraising is the least expensive and most efficient way for MPR to acquire new members – and 4 out of 5 of our listeners are not members. While MPR does receive revenue from other sources – state and federal grants, foundations, local businesses, and events – members provide the largest and most reliable piece of the pie.

Members’ investment in MPR – at any level they can give – means that we can stay independent, weather uncertain economic climates, and consistently improve and expand our offerings.

How many Member Drives per year does MPR air?

MPR holds three drives per year – fall, winter, and spring.

You may know that many of the shows you enjoy – like All Things Considered, Morning Edition and more — come to us from National Public Radio (NPR). Twice a year, public radio stations get their bill from NPR, and drives are a large part of how they pay it (hence the timing and cycle of drives).

In addition to the bill for NPR, MPR has the added expenses of running a robust regional newsroom and two stellar music services (Classical MPR and The Current), plus an increasing number of digital products, including free apps, listening streams and podcasts.

On occasion, MPR has needed to fundraise for a few days at other times due to budget shortfalls. When this happens, we communicate the need to members and listeners transparently.

How long is each Member Drive? How long is each break?

A typical drive takes place over a nine-day period (but we do not interrupt weekend programming for fundraising). On a weekday during the drive, about four five-minute breaks per hour are devoted to fundraising.

Fundraising always takes a backseat to breaking news. During the events of the Arab Spring, for instance, we suspended fundraising for several hours during the drive to deliver breaking news as quickly as possible.

How have MPR’s Member Drives changed in recent years?

In recent years, we’ve been especially focused on trying to create more listenable Member Drives. Some of the changes we’ve been able to make have been buoyed by the growing number of Sustaining Members.

  • We currently fundraise fewer days than we did five years ago (21 days annually, versus 27.)

  • Our fundraising breaks are, on average, about 2-3 minutes shorter than they used to be. They’re also some of the shortest in the industry.

  • We got rid of a lot of the extra “noise” associated with public radio drives (like music playing behind our hosts)

  • For the last five years, we’ve been committed to not swapping out programs during drives – you’ll hear exactly what you came for.

How much revenue do these Member Drives raise?

Member Drives account for about 20% of overall membership revenue. That may seem small, but drives are still vitally important, as they’re our single best way of acquiring new members.

We think of Member Drives less in terms of revenue-gathering, and more as way to broaden our base of support for the future.

Where does the money go? Am I supporting national programs produced by American Public Media ?

Money raised during Member Drives goes into MPR’s unrestricted general operating fund. This fund pays for everything from reporters to equipment to some of the organization’s shared staff and services, including engineering, marketing, operations, membership, finance and human resources.

For every dollar donated to MPR, 75 cents comes back to you in the programming you enjoy, and the rest goes to support these shared resources.

American Public Media programs, like The Splendid Table, get their revenue from national distribution (public radio stations airing their shows), from underwriters and from listeners who chose to donate directly to the show.

If I become a member of The Current, does my money go to News and Classical?

To provide any of our radio services, we draw on the resources of the entire organization.

This means that when a listener contributes to The Current, that contribution becomes part of the operating resources for all of MPR. The support is not restricted to just The Current.

Many Members listen to more than one service, and many listen to everything. Our goal is to have a family of healthy, growing radio services that continue to be worthy of your support.

How about a Members-only stream so I don’t have to listen to the Member Drives?

At this point, we don’t have a members-only stream in the works – but we do have some great online streams that we keep drive free, such as:

Classical Choral Stream: 24/7 choral music from around the world
Local Current: all Minnesota music
Radio Heartland: the rootsier side of The Current
Rock the Cradle Radio: music for kids and grownups alike