In addition to listener support, NPR relies on its corporate and foundation sponsors to contribute to the cost of providing our award-winning programming. Sponsors choose to support us because they believe in the work NPR does and also because it provides real benefits to their organizations.
We recently completed an update of research conducted in 2003 and 2007 which demonstrates again that NPR provides a "halo effect" for sponsors. The "halo effect" is the positive association and shared values that NPR listeners attribute to the companies that sponsor us. Listeners have a higher opinion of those sponsors just because they support public radio.
Taking the "halo effect" on step further, the research suggests that our listeners take action as a result of sponsor's on-air credits. Among other things, listeners say the announcements have led them to attend cultural events or exhibits, consider new products, gather more information about a product or company, and visit sponsor websites.
However, the research also reminds us that we can't take this relationship for granted. Listeners' support for sponsors is also dependent on maintaining the non-commercial environment of public radio — limiting the amount of sponsorship announcements and keeping up our strong firewall between programming and sponsors.
Working within the limits of public radio's sponsorship guidelines, sponsors can find a unique place to build relationships with our active, engaged listeners.
Susan Leland is the research manager for corporate sponsorship and development.