Skip to content

The Eight-Percent Club

  • rkurrasch 

Some years ago, having dutifully called in my pledge to our local public radio station, I wrote a letter, a nice letter, to the development person in charge of the semiannual pledge drive.

In my very nice letter I pointed out that the only thing worse than making loyal contributors listen to the week-long harangue about pledging to public radio is making loyal station personnel do the haranguing. Surely there is a better way??

In due time I received a very nice response from the station’s development person in which she very nicely pointed out that these techniques had been very carefully tested and that they were assiduously followed because they worked.

True, only 8% of the listeners bothered to pledge, but apparently if you keep at it long enough, those precious eight people in every hundred will come up with enough money to support the cause, in this case, public radio.

Maybe that is what it takes. After all, we all receive a constant barrage of appeals for good and necessary causes that we would willingly support. Pretty annoying, the seemingly never ending fund drive, but it must work! Otherwise why do it and risk alienating good and loyal people who write letters self-righteously suggesting that there must be a better way.

It reminds me of the 80-20 Rule. The Rule applies to most any group where participation is voluntary (think of a church or service club, if not the listeners tuning in to a public radio station) and the simple observation that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.

In other words, when it comes to our discretionary commitments of time, talent, and treasure, so much depends on so few—a minority of workers and a majority of freeloaders, it would seem. Quite possibly, a goodly number of that untapped crowd of “freeloaders” are themselves part of the 20% of other organizations, over-committed, Type-A persons comprising the membership of countless voluntary groups these days.

Maybe the message is to double-check our “8% Club” Memberships … and write checks accordingly.