DEI's Mission Statement
DEI provides nationwide leadership in fostering integrated and innovative business practices so that local communities can sustain high-quality public radio.
The roots of DEI originate with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and its establishment in 1974 of a Station Development Unit to assist local public radio stations in establishing and expanding their fundraising activities. As part of its work, CPB's Station Development Unit began to host an annual Public Radio Workshop in the late 1970s to provide fundraising training. In 1982, in the wake of reduced federal funding, CPB discontinued its Station Development Unit and assisted with the formation of a new, independent organization to continue this important work. The Development Exchange, Inc. was incorporated in the District of Columbia in December, 1982, and the new organization opened its offices in January of 1983 in Washington, DC. The Development Exchange, Inc. was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in October of that year.
DEI's Early Years
The primary activity for the new member station organization (whose work was initially conducted by its Board of Directors) was producing the annual Public Radio Workshop, which expanded in 1985 to become an annual, multi-day gathering titled Development Exchange Workshops & Seminars. The organization also facilitated the ongoing sharing of fundraising materials and strategies among stations. In 1990, the Development Exchange, Inc. had matured to the point where the Board Chair and President functions could be separated, and the organization transitioned from an interim Executive Director (Linda Carr) to its first Executive Director/President, Cheri Wright, in 1991.
In 1993, the Development Exchange offices moved to Arlington, Virginia, and Anne Llewellyn became President. As part of an agreement to receive special funding from CPB, the Development Exchange's self-perpetuating Board temporarily converted to an elected Board for several years. Also in 1993 the Workshops & Seminars were expanded into the first annual Public Radio Development Conference, held in Chicago. The organization had grown to 85 member stations, then called subscribers. In addition to producing the annual conference and assisting stations one-on-one by telephone, the Development Exchange now produced a quarterly newsletter of fundraising recommendations and station success stories.
In 1997, following the interim leadership of Carole Nolan, Doug Eichten became President of the Development Exchange, Inc., and the organization's offices were moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Station membership had grown to 127 members (now called members). The organization ceased common usage of its full name and began branding itself exclusively under the acronym DEI.
The next ten years saw rapid growth for DEI as both station membership and conference attendance grew dramatically, as member services expanded, as new staff positions were added, and as DEI received significant project grants from CPB. DEI created a group of Station-Based Advisors: some of the most respected fundraisers in public radio, who were contracted to provide telephone and e-mail advice "from the trenches" to other member stations. DEI launched its first member station website in 1998, which housed DEI's first online repository of fundraising articles, station samples, and customizeable tools. DEI co-launched public radio's first fundraising listserve (PRADOlist) in partnership with the Public Radio Association of Development Officers in 1999. DEI continued to produce the annual Public Radio Development Conference, which in 1999 was renamed the Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference.
In 2005, DEI re-launched its website and converted its monthly print newsletter to an electronic publication, DEI eReport. By 2007, DEI had grown to over 250 member stations and the Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference had become public radio's largest annual conference, with over 750 attendees.
Current Structure and Activities
In 2007, DEI reorganized its staff to create its first Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer positions. The role of DEI President, still held by Doug Eichten, is now primarily focused on national leadership, external relations, and new business (including grant-supported projects). Core operations have expanded to include national benchmarking research, weekly training webinars, outsourced fundraising services, and member co-ops for group purchasing of data services. A full list of DEI member services can be found here. The DEI Board has expanded to 10 members. In 2010 the annual conference was retitled the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC), and DEI re-launched its latest version of the member station website in 2011.