Has NPR’s Carvin found the future of fundraising?

“Wanna support my #egypt tweeting?” NPR social media guru Andy Carvin asked his followers today. “Pls donate to your NPR station http://n.pr/b7N0RZ then tweet amount & station w/ tag #gave4andy. PLS RT.” Carvin tells Mallary Jean Tenore that his solicit for donations is an “elegant solution” to giving people a way to channel their support for him. || Related from Megan Garber and Phoebe Connelly.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/andycarvin Andy Carvin

    These are all fair comments. Like I said before, though, I didn’t do this to move the bar, as it were, in either direction. I’m not a fundraising person, and I’m the last person you should ask about how to monetize digital journalism. As the Egypt story was reaching its climax, people started asking me if they could donate to me personally or to a charity of my choice. Since neither was appropriate, I merely suggested they donate to their local station. It seemed like a reasonable solution, and a number of stations have received donations they otherwise wouldn’t have received. And I think it’s important to experiment, whether it’s through spot.us, Kickstarter or whatever method.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Neal, it sounds like you fear that somehow the donors could indirectly influence the coverage by giving for specific topics (like the Egypt uprising). Would a news organization cover a subject more if they thought it might generate donations? It’s an interesting question. And a little like chasing page views or ratings. When a topic is trending in search terms or a newscast or broadcast does well, do you take advantage of that information to keep leading with the same thing? Another way of looking at it, though, is as a gauge of audience interest, which necessarily is a factor in our editorial decisions, even when we decide to ignore its relevance in pursuit of important stories that might not have registered yet with the public.
    –Julie Moos

  • http://twitter.com/gredin Neal Jackson

    As another former NPR officer (and onetime Chief Ethics Officer – though I was not in charge of news ethics) I can see what Jeffrey is saying. People rely on the independence of the journalists in determining the scope and depth of subjects covered. Here the Tweets could be seen by some as votes on coverage, potentially undercutting the independence of the journalists in reporting the news. It’s a subtle issue, and I seriously doubt that Andy would ever use the results in that way, but it does offer a potential in some circumstances with some people…

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Jeffrey, it’s great to hear from you as a former VP of News and Ombud at NPR. Can you elaborate on why you think support for targeted coverage — or during a time of targeted coverage — is moving in the wrong direction for fundraising? I’m intrigued by the idea of asking listeners (or Twitter followers) during news coverage to support the information they’re relying on, rather than isolating those requests to a few weeks a year.
    –Julie Moos, Director of Poynter Online

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeffrey-Dvorkin/819349465 Jeffrey Dvorkin

    Inventive, to be sure. Precedent setting? Um….maybe not entirely. It’s not much different from pledge drives where
    Robert Siegel, Scott Simon or Rene Montagne ask for donations to support NPR. But getting specific about support for targeted coverage is moving the bar slightly in the wrong direction.