What happens when a nonprofit is challenged by a much larger corporation? How can an independent, community-funded organization compete with an established for-profit business with more resources? You rally your community, establish strong partnerships, and keep your mission at the center. This happened to KXRW, an independent, volunteer-based, values-driven, community-supported radio station in Vancouver, WA. Susan Galaviz (founder, president, and program manager of KXRW) shares their success story.
KXRW was already on-air, excited to celebrate their first birthday, when they got word Bustos Media was awarded an FCC Construction Permit to build a translator in the Portland area on the 99.9FM frequency. Bustos owns more than two dozen radio stations in Oregon and Washington. They bought the rights to a translator to also broadcast on the 99.9 frequency in Portland, OR, which would distort the signal coming from the same frequency in Vancouver, WA.
Get the word out!
Galaviz and her team immediately mobilized the Vancouver community. They shared their story through the Columbian Newspaper and Channel 6 News. Local businesses gave donations for silent auctions and raffles to fund the station. They organized a petition that was soundly supported by their community. And all of these efforts centered on their mission: we are committed to sharing knowledge and information to build relationships and community in Southwest Washington and beyond. Because of the emphasis on local voices, the local community saw how important it was for KXRW to retain their platform. They know have a strong case to present to the FCC to either stop Bustos from using their frequency or to redirect their translator in another direction so it will not interfere with KXRW.
Utilize your partners and resources
KXRW also had some strong partners. Their sister station in Portland, OR, XRAY.FM, plays KXRW’s content and also provides content for the Vancouver station. They promote each other and partner together on events. The Media Institute for Social Change trains the KXRW team members through their Radio U program. Radio engineers volunteer their time and talent to install equipment and make broadcasting possible. Local DJs and producers contribute their knowledge, time, and voices to the programming, and there have been some amazing guests, including Senators Patty Murray and Annette Cleveland as well as Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. And community at large has a real stake in the success of the station—the founding members and contributors, the board, and the listeners.
Are you ready to mobilize your community behind your mission? Take some tips from KXRW:
- Get your mission statement out. Authenticity in the mission is a major asset for nonprofits! People can connect with a meaningful mission, so keep it as the motivation behind your efforts. Use social media and newsletters as a low cost way to connect with your community.
- Stay in the public view by participating in events.
Host fundraisers like silent auctions or raffles with donations from local businesses. If you can, send someone to staff an exhibitor table at community gatherings. Galaviz knows the importance of connecting with people who care about your cause: “even if you walk away with one donor, it’s totally worth it.” That person could potentially be a major partner and supporter.
- Maintain strong partnerships. KXRW found a lot of strength and stability in their partnership with XRAY.FM. They also cultivated powerful relationships with local businesses. They offered their platform to businesses sponsors through many ways: business on-air audio spots, recognition in their newsletter, social media promotion, and invites to events. Galaviz adds that, “even if you don’t have the platform, many businesses want to support nonprofits.” Businesses have an investment in the community as well.
- Meet the needs of the community. The founders and supporters of KXRW saw a need for local voices to be heard. They also knew how important it was for voters in Southwest Washington to hear the voices of their political candidates in order to make an informed vote. Through broadcasted interviews and debates, the community learns more about a candidate and there is a greater possibility for meaningful change.
- Know your facts. Before you start a new major project, make sure that you are fully aware of all details, especially regulations that could affect your progress. Do your research from the beginning so you won’t waste any time!
Want to learn more about KXRW’s story? Watch this KOIN 6 News segment and tune in at 99.9 FM in Vancouver and online at XRAY.FM.
KXRW has been a member of Washington Nonprofits since 2018. They love Washington Nonprofits’ resources (especially finance and legal topics) that help keep their organization healthy and working smoothly so they can continue to provide a great service to their community.