Branding and public relations are important for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits spend resources spreading the message about their mission and work in order to assist with fundraising, inform the public about important issues and find clients to serve. Running public service announcements on the radio is a key way charities can reach the public. In order to reduce costs, many nonprofits seek out free radio airtime to run their announcements.

Operating in the Public Interest

Because they are licensed to operate on the public airways, radio stations are required by law to operate "in the public interest." Giving free airtime to nonprofits is one way station owners show that they are doing so. Radio personalities and managers also know that supporting local causes helps them show their audience that the station cares about the community.

Approaching the Station

The best person to approach at a radio station when seeking free airtime for a nonprofit is the general manager or director of advertising sales. Both carry significant sway at the station and help set policy on free airtime for public service announcements. Start with the general manager, then move to the director of sales if you cannot get traction.

Making a Case

To be granted free airtime, a nonprofit organization must demonstrate that it is an important and worthwhile cause and that its message is supported by or needed by a significant portion of the station's listener base. The charity should put together a portfolio and short presentation outlining its mission and detailing why that mission is a good fit for a particular station. The radio station will also want to be sure that the public service announcement that will be run is both appropriate and professionally produced. Many stations offer to help produce and edit nonprofit spots as part of an offer of free airtime.


Nonprofits that hope to build long-term relationships with broadcasters that result in regular free airtime should provide recognition opportunities for the station and its staff. Appropriate recognition can include listing the station as an in-kind donor, displaying the station logo on a donor recognition page on the organization's website, and including an acknowledgement of the donation of airtime in your nonprofit's annual report. The organization's staff should personally thank the station manager as well as remain in contact with the station as it would with any other donor.