In discussing the financing of a local radio broadcast, we will assume that you have obtained a contract (by your conference committee's consent) with a local broadcasting station for a fifteen-minute Sunday morning or evening program, at a cost varying from $15 up to $35 a week for that fifteen-minute period. Here are some suggestions as to how to raise that much money, regularly, without a great deal of campaigning.
First of all, how much can you expect from the conference? That will vary, of course. It would be very reasonable if you would request a monthly conference appropriation equivalent to the cost of one week's broadcast. This is a very small investment in large evangelism in any conference, and most economical from the viewpoint of soulsaving, to say nothing of the benefit to discouraged or isolated believers. Many conferences give the broadcaster a monthly appropriation equivalent to the cost of a two weeks' broadcast. (Let me suggest that you will enlist the cooperation and intelligent interest of your conference officers if you will render them a complete statement each month of receipts, disbursements, and cash on hand at the month's end.)
Now how can you figure the total cost of conducting a broadcast? I will use hypothetical figures merely as illustrative examples. The proportions, however, will be fairly accurate. Let us assume your broadcast is to cost you $25 a week for one fifteen-minute period. That will make $1 oo a month for radio time, if the month has four weeks, or $125 in a five-week month.
The cost for free literature offered, the book of the month* (described later), and regular postage will run about $30 a month. Now let us further assume that you are launching a Radio Bible Study Correspondence Course. You may have to employ a lay member or a sustentation Bible worker at a cost of perhaps $25 to $30 a month to help you in your radio work. You should not rob your other work by taking time to correct papers, mail out supplies, etc. The first three to five months are the hardest financially, in getting the correspondence course started. Perhaps your wife or some lay member will be willing to carry the clerical work until your broadcast is firmly established and paying its way. If this can be arranged, you will thus save $25 to $30 a month.
Of course, in your Radio Bible Correspondence School you will have additional expense in the cost of the correspondence lessons and the first-class postage in mailing back the corrected lessons weekly to enrollees. This cost is directly proportionate to the number of enrollees, but you can be positive that as enrollments climb, your income from listeners and enrollees will climb in proportion. To summarize the estimated monthly costs in a four-week month:
Broadcasting time ...................................... $100
Miscellaneous literature, books, stamps..... $ 30
Salary for helper ........................................ $ 30
TOTAL ....................................................... $160
Now add to this the cost of the correspondence school, which will be approximately $25 to $40 a month after your school has grown to larger proportions—perhaps two thousand enrollments. Your conference may be willing to give you an initial appropriation of $25 to help you in getting stationery, envelopes, rubber stamps, etc., to begin your radio work. I might add here, if your faith is strong and you are willing to work hard and sacrifice, you should start a broadcast even if your conference is unable to help at all. There are some conferences without any financial margin for radio evangelism. God will reward your faith if your only motive is to speed the message and to finish the work in your part of the vineyard.
Local and National Not in Conflict
It is not enough for us to broadcast over the national network only. The local broadcaster can often get on high-powered stations that do not carry the coast-to-coast program. Our people should be encouraged to support both broadcasts. Only one third of the contributions to any radio broadcast come from our own people, after it is well started. At first they carry the heavier load, but later more of the load is carried by the listening audience. This emphasizes the importance of a non-Adventist-supported evangelistic program, which may be more true of radio work than any other form of missionary endeavor.
Announcements in Union Paper.—It is very important that you announce your radio program in the union conference paper. Remind our people that it is a work of faith, that you desire them to give and pray to keep the broadcast on the air.
Rallying the Churches.—About two weeks before the first broadcast you should prepare an earnest, stirring sermon on the signs of the times, the unfinished task, and the rapid soul-harvesting plan of radio evangelism. Revelation 14:6, 7 and 18 :1-4, as well as Joel 3:9-14, are excellent texts. Give this sermon in each church in your district.
At the end of the sermon you should have a consecration prayer. Then pass out slips of paper asking each to write down his name and address and how much he plans to give each month toward the broadcast. Explain to the members that this is not an iron-clad pledge, but an approximate statement of what each will endeavor to give monthly, and that it will enable you to plan the financial part of your program. Following this you may even wish to take an initial radio offering to pay for the first broadcast. But first, call for the pledges and have the ushers collect them. You may get a considerable amount by asking all our people to bring in jewelry to help in the launching of your radio program.
Book of the Month. In one local broadcast while at, Kansas City, my regular money-raising efforts centered around the book-of-themonth plan—a new Crisis Series book each month. These cost twelve and a half cents each, and were sent to each contributor who sent in a dollar or more during the current month. Each month the offer was changed to a different book, and thus the supporters of the broadcast were encouraged to be regular in their contributions. This encourages monthly "repeat" offerings. Besides the book of the month, each dollar contributor is sent whatever you are offering free over the air during the current month.
Sometimes I have talked on the same subject as contained in the book of the month during the first or second broadcasts of the month. For instance, if you are offering "Prophecy Speaks," you might take one or two broadcasts on kindred material, and tell your audience that "this month's book of the month, 'Prophecy Speaks,' gives a full coverage of the most precise, striking, and almost unbelievable Bible prophecies —a unique book which even infidels enjoy, etc." "Prophecy Speaks" is an excellent book for your first offer, or some new Crisis book, just out, which deals with world conditions. When you advertise a book over the air, first make sure of its contents. Some have striking, catching titles, but cover material of a nature which you might not want to use too early in your radio work. You probably will not offer any book, or request contributions until you have been on the air three or four weeks. Your announcement for a certain book of the month over the air may run something like this:
"And now for our book of the month for September. We have one of the finest books ever written to offer you—These Tremendous Times.' The author is an outstanding editor, author, and lecturer on current events in the light of Bible prophecy. His reading audience is immense, and this is one of his greatest books just off the press. We are giving this to each of our listeners who is able to, or cares to, help with the broadcasts this month to the extent of a dollar or more. Just listen to these chapter headings:___ [Read four or five of the most striking.] I wish we had television so you could actually see this wonderful book for September ! Remember, you are the sponsors of these broadcasts, and we do appreciate your help. Address your letters to Station
If your station will not allow you to ask for donations in this way, it may allow you to offer the book to all this month's "sustaining members." In all your appeals for money, keep the bright side out. Thank the people for their wonderful response. Do not paint a gloomy, bankruptcy picture of having to go off the air if they do not give. "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given." If your listeners feel that your program is prospering, they will support it more wholeheartedly.
Sometime you might suggest that a listener may care to sponsor (pay for) one broadcast in loving memory of one who has passed away. This appeals to some of our people more than an expensive monument.
—To be concluded in March
* Our radio evangelists may have to avoid using this specific name in connection with their offer, so as not to conflict with the "Book of the Month" by a New York publisher. At present, the Voice of Prophecy broadcast is using a slightly modified expression on its program—"our book for the month."