Today is the next to last day of the Fall pledge drive for Christian radio giant K-LOVE. The last time K-LOVE had a pledge drive, they did not use confusing appeals to ask for money. They used and are still using contests to draw in donors but they didn’t use the deceptive strategy of saying a $40/month pledge to K-LOVE led to new shoes, warm coats, or food for disadvantaged children.
Now K-LOVE has partnered with a new group to tempt donors. Natural disasters are hot right now so K-LOVE has partnered with disaster relief charity Convoy of Hope to promote the following promise:
Your NEW $40 monthly EZ Gift not only supports K-LOVE, it also provides disaster relief by supplying food, water, and hygiene kits to those impacted!
The following video pitch makes vague claims that a gift of $40/month to K-LOVE will lead to disaster victims getting food, water, and hygiene kits.
To learn more, I wrote a K-LOVE spokesperson and I called and talked to a couple of listener service representatives. I also wrote Convoy of Hope. After these contacts, I still don’t know for sure what happens when a new donor pledges $40/month.
Disaster Relief as Bait
I emailed Molly Erickson, Senior Director of Public Relations at Convoy of Hope and asked for an explanation for the following claim from K-LOVE: “Your NEW $40 monthly EZ Gift not only supports K-LOVE, it also provides disaster relief by supplying food, water, and hygiene kits to those impacted!”
I asked her to explain how someone giving $40/month to K-LOVE provides hygiene kits to Convoy of Hope recipients.
She told me
When someone gives to K-LOVE, K-LOVE in turn gives that money to Convoy of Hope so we can procure and deliver the food, water and hygiene kits to storm survivors — which is something we are already doing, but K-LOVES support enables us to help even more people.
If true, this would be a new wrinkle and unusual for K-LOVE. A review of their 2016 990 indicates that K-LOVE gave away just $100,580 in grants during the year.
Although I doubt it, it sounds like she is saying K-LOVE takes some of that $40/month and gives it CoH. I wrote back and asked if any of the $40 pledge goes to CoH since K-LOVE had always told donors that 100% of the donation goes to K-LOVE.
She wrote back to say:
I would encourage you to reach out directly to K-LOVE if you have questions about their pledge drive and donations to Convoy.
Earlier I wrote to a K-LOVE spokesperson but received no answer. Today, I called and talked to two customer service representatives. One told me that Convoy of Hope gives a disaster kit for every new $40/month pledge. When I asked who pays for the disaster kits, I was transferred to another representative. The second representative wasn’t sure if K-LOVE gives money to Convoy of Hope from the $40/month pledge. Although she didn’t know how, she repeated that $40/month pledges resulted in a disaster kit being given away.
It is disappointing that representatives of donor supported ministries can’t answer a basic question about a major fund raising operation. It is hard to believe these organizations don’t know how their relationship works.
To me, K-LOVE and CoH describe a scenario where the disaster relief kits are being held for ransom. The K-LOVE donors pay the $40/month ransom and Convoy of Hope will release a disaster kit already made to a needy person. In fact, those kits are going to go to needy people whether K-LOVE listeners pledge $40/month or not. At least, I hope CoH isn’t holding on to disaster relief. It is unconscionable to think that CoH would take money from a CoH donor, create a kit for a homeless disaster victim funded by a CoH donor, and then hold on to it until a K-LOVE listener pledges $40/month during pledge drive. Making it worse is that K-LOVE tells their donor that disaster victims have a kit because they gave.
Using disaster victims to add more millions to K-LOVE’s surplus is disgusting. I had come to believe K-LOVE was making an ethical turnaround, but this erases any hope of that.
If CoH or K-LOVE believes I have misrepresented what happens with the pledges and disaster kits, I will provide space for them to correct the record.
K-LOVE Is Very Rich
K-LOVE sends out their on-air personalities to beg for money every pledge drive as if the results of the drive keep the wolf from the door. However, a review of K-LOVE’s 2016 IRS 990 form reveals a very rich organization.
Surplus (Revenue less expenses): $63,043,532
CEO Total Compensation: $ 563,767
PR Coaching for pledge drive: $ 355,146
Number of executive staff making over $100k: 53
So when you are making your $40/month pledge, remember it takes 1175 of you to make the CEO’s compensation. It takes 740 of you just to pay the consultants who coach the K-LOVE on-air personalities in how to get you to give your money (“we need 10 callers during this song!”). So if you want to help disaster victims, giving $40/month isn’t a good way to do it.
K-LOVE Should Take Advice from K-LOVE
K-LOVE asks donors who don’t have enough money to afford necessities to trust God to supply their need. Why doesn’t K-LOVE do that? If K-LOVE really believed what they pay $355k for some consultant to tell them to say, why don’t they believe it enough to practice it?
Just stop with the contests and the gimmicks and tell donors on your website what you need and why. If God is really in it, He will supply you with what you need, right?