Nonprofit organizations need imagination and persistence to get free, radio air space for activities. Radio, like other forms of commercial media, is competitive. Advertising is costly. However, community radio stations might consider promoting local events for nonprofit organizations. The best method of gaining free radio space is to build a relationship with local radio stations and become the resident "expert" on a subject. If a news story breaks, the programmers could turn to the nonprofit organization for a comment. That will help gain publicity and reinforce the organization's name and cause with the program listeners.
Identify any publicity opportunities that you can promote to local or national radio. For instance a local radio program often includes events, such as a sponsored walk, if they are of interest to the local community. Try to make the event different. Turn that sponsored walk into a sponsored three-legged race. All media, including radio, are looking for a good story. Give them one. When you are planning your year ahead, pinpoint any events that would be suitable for radio publicity.
Target community radio in your area, initially, as it will look more favorably on a nonprofit organization than a commercial radio station. Build up a relationship with the PR department, or the program editors if it is a small radio station. Contacting someone you know by telephone for some publicity is far better than starting from scratch each time. Let the news producers know that you are available for comment and interview for any local news story the radio station is running.
Contact the local or national radio by sending a one-page press release about your news. If it is a major news story, for example if a local celebrity is lending support to your cause, then try to arrange an interview with the radio station and the celebrity. If you have the resources and the story is good enough, use a national press release distribution service. All types of media, including broadcasters, will pick up on your story and you could get national coverage.
Ask the program producers if they would be interested in a piece on your organization. If the subject is topical, for example, you run an organization on homelessness and this hits the news, a local angle could be useful. Pitch story ideas to local radio stations regularly.
Try promotional exchanges with community radio stations. For example, a radio will give you coverage of your sponsored marathon, in exchange for the runners wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "99.3 FM" on. It could be a win-win situation for both parties.