There are several ways you can use the air waves to get the word out about your cause. You could opt for a public service announcement, but if you have the opportunity, you could also get a member of your organization onto a talk radio show.
Public Service Announcements
FCC licensing often requires radio and television stations to include some amount of public service programming. As a nonprofit organization, you can run PSAs on radio stations. PSAs are generally fifteen to thirty seconds in duration, and occasionally as long as sixty seconds. Call the station and ask who handles PSAs and community affairs. Find out what restrictions the station may have and whether it wants PSAs submitted on CD or if it wants the script for its announcers to read.
Determine how many people you want to reach. You shouldn't reach out to 100,000 people to tell them about a silent auction that will only hold 200. Plan your advertising and promotional campaign in accordance with your size and space restrictions, as well as your budget limitations.
You may be able to coordinate your publicity efforts with a particular radio or television program. For example, one year the Philadelphia Old House Fair coincided with a local network's efforts to promote its own home restoration programs. A very short trailer mentioning the Old House Fair appeared after the home restoration shows for a couple of days prior to the fair. The placement was perfect for the audience the planners of the fair were hoping to reach.
Going on Air
Almost any city or town has its fair share of talk radio stations. An ideal way to get your message out there without spending money is to try to get someone from your organization, or a spokesperson for your cause, on talk radio. Television is another possibility, but unless you have a speaker who is comfortable in front of the camera, you may do better with radio.
A local celebrity can also be beneficial in promoting your upcoming fundraiser. Contact radio stations in advance, possibly ones that already know you from running your PSAs, and find out which talk shows might work for you.
Even music stations are generally required to have some time devoted to community service programming. Unfortunately, this may be at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. Always consider whether an opportunity will let you connect with your target audience or whether it will be a waste of your time and resources.
You'll do better on an all-talk station, where you might fit into one of its daytime programs for a short interview. Most often, the program host will ask you in advance what you want to talk about. Prepare questions you have answers to and that feature highlights of upcoming fundraising activities.
A subtler way of getting your message across is to call in and talk about a topic on a primetime radio call-in show. Keep in mind that radio prime-time is during the morning and evening rush hours when people are heading to and from work. Mention your organization or fundraiser in the course of the conversation.