A Very Rich K-LOVE Uses Disaster Relief to Raise More Money

KLOVE CarToday 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.
Contributions/grants:                       $170,313,699
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?

Listener Supported K-LOVE Accepts Paid Advertising

KLOVE CarOne of the most frequent slogans you hear when you listen to Christian music giant K-LOVE radio is that the station is “listener supported.” When the fund drives are going on, listeners are bombarded with the message that the station wouldn’t be on the air without listener donations. As I have noted in the past, K-LOVE is sitting on millions in cash and investments and pay the executive staff extremely well, so they don’t really need all those “EZ Gifts” to remain on the air. In addition, K-LOVE is accepting paid ads for services.
I recently heard an ad for Medi-Share and learned from the health care group that Medi-Share paid K-LOVE for the ads. According to Michael Gardner, communications director with Medi-Share, “Christian Care Ministry receives media placements on K-Love because we support their programming through paid underwriting.” I also heard one from Pure Flix, a Christian comedy and entertainment group.* As far as I know, K-LOVE stations are licensed as non-commercial stations.
This might come as a surprise after hearing K-LOVE’s on-air personalities criticize other networks which use ads to underwrite programming.  In the past, K-LOVE has even boasted of being “commercial free” (see also here). Judging from online comments, listeners think the station is supposed to be commercial free (see for examples here, here, here, and here).
Also, K-LOVE recruits artists to make the pitch. Watch:
According to the K-LOVE website, avoiding commercials is a selling point.

The K-LOVE Difference is…

Most Radio stations play an average of 19 Commercials an hour. Not at K-LOVE.
This means we can play more songs every hour than most radio stations.

No doubt they play fewer commercials per hour. However, they do air commercials and they air spots from Bible teachers such as Luis Palau, Proverbs 31 Ministries, etc. I wonder if those ministries pay to play as well.
*This post is not meant to detract from either Christian Care Ministry or Pure Flix. Both groups may be fine organizations. My interest in this post is to inform donors who might be trying to decide to give to K-LOVE or allow their child to register for Little League or go to summer camp. Go with the child.
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Spring Pledge Drive: So Far K-LOVE is Just Asking for Money

KLOVE CarIt is Spring Pledge Drive time at K-LOVE, and so far, the Christian mega station is just asking for money.
During past campaigns, K-LOVE has used other non-profits to provide a misleading incentive to give. One year, donors were told a $40/month donation would trigger a the gift of a pair of shoes for a poor child. Another drive, the hook was a warm coat.  However, as it turns out, those shoes and coats would have been given anyway.
So far this year, as far as I can tell, the pitch has not included a misleading marketing partnership. Watch:
Also, the K-LOVE website doesn’t mention a marketing partnership.
KLOVE 2017 Spring Pledge
About the only gimmick I see is the contests for a vacation and an Apple prize pack. While it may be a little tacky, it isn’t dishonest. I assume someone will win those things.
While I continue to believe donors should carefully assess whether or not K-LOVE really needs pledge drive funds to remain on the air (as opposed to using them to expand), so far the station has avoided the troubling marketing gimmicks of past campaigns.
If you hear any changes, let me know…

K-LOVE Discontinues The Shack Promotion

KLOVE CarNear the end of February and into the first week of March, K-LOVE promoted the movie The Shack on air. It had all of the trappings of a paid promotional campaign, complete with a ticket giveaway contest.  However, many K-LOVE listeners were not amused (e.g., Tim Challies), viewing The Shack as promoting heresy.
In response, K-LOVE discontinued the promotion. The announcement was low-key and in response to a listener post on the K-LOVE Facebook page:

Thanks for sharing your concerns, Julie. We discontinued this promotional earlier this week and are no longer airing it. If you do have any questions or concerns about our biblical values, you’re more than welcome to call our K-LOVE pastors at 1-800-525-5683.

Just a few days prior to yesterday, K-LOVE defended the promotion but the reaction may have been strong enough to change their minds.
While I cannot be sure, I think the promotion was probably about to end anyway since the ticket giveaway campaign ended on March 5. I wrote K-LOVE about the details but did not hear anything back.
K-LOVE can be responsive to listeners when the leaders perceive it will impact them. I will be watching their Spring fund drive to see if they modify any of their claims to make the promotion more transparent.

K-LOVE Removes NASCAR Content; Still Sponsoring Michael McDowell

KLOVE nascarNote: When I first published this post, I wondered if K-LOVE had dropped sponsorship. According to Gene Krcelic at McDowell Motorsports, K-LOVE is still racing.
(Original post)
Radio giant K-LOVE may have dropped sponsorship of car #95 with Michael McDowell as driver. A search of K-LOVE’s website finds a link to the old article introducing McDowell, but when one clicks the link, it goes nowhere. A site search shows several news article relating to NASCAR were once available via K-LOVE news, but they have been removed from the site. An archived page regarding McDowell and K-LOVE is available via the Wayback Machine.
I asked K-LOVE and Michael McDowell for comment but there has been no reply. I have been unable to find any indication from NASCAR sources that K-LOVE will be involved in the 2017 season.
I wrote about the K-LOVE NASCAR connection several months ago as an indication that K-LOVE may not need donor money just to keep stations on the air.
UPDATE: Gene Krcelic with Michael McDowell Motorsports wrote to say K-LOVE is still a sponsor. No word from K-LOVE about why all NASCAR content has been removed.