I'm not giving them any money this time around, and here's why:
They're too into the two-party system.
At least 50% of this is because they're merely a re-broadcast of NPR or other public radio most of the time. Back when we were still watching the Republican Candidates self-destruct to give Romney the nomination, I took to counting the number of times OPB/NPR mentioned Ron Paul vs. Santorum vs. Romney, and unless you were listening at just the right time, you wouldn't have known Ron Paul was running, despite how many states he had actually won.
They're already hyping the Romney/Obama debate tomorrow. I had to find out Jill Stein exists through Google+, and I certainly wasn't going to hear about her debate with Gary Johnson (the other person people don't know is going to be on the ballot, despite the Colbert bump).
The Sustaining CircleBefore the turn off of candidate coverage, I joined the sustaining circle/subscription program. Ten bucks a month to support my favorite station. Hell, its worth it just to hear 'This American Life' on the weekends. Got my girl at the time a nice tote bag for doing so.
Of course, the next fundraiser I didn't get anything and I still had to listen for a week while the stuff I wanted to hear was interrupted with panhandling attempts.
Here's an idea:
Starting months before financial crunch time, start mentioning 'becoming a member' and 'the sustaining circle' in little commercial-size bits. Tell us how much more money needs to come in through sustaining circle members to avoid the next round of fundraising. I'd help pay for that. Chipping in and then still getting penalized (by having to listen to fundraising instead of programming) is a big turnoff.
So are the fancy gifts, actually. The sustaining circle is a perpetual subscription. It's better to make a one-time donation every year so you can get fresh OPB swag every year. How bout a yearly gift of swag to the sustaining circle. Give us a reason to keep sustaining other than convenience. If you're going to be giving away stuff, don't you think your subscribers deserve it? After all, they can quit sustaining at any time.