Nonprofit organizations looking for new ways to interact with donors should consider radio as a venue. A broadcast is a great, inexpensive way for new and current contributors to engage with charities.

In Seattle, the Federal Communications Commission approved a new nonprofit radio station that will reach listeners in West Seattle neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Belltown, Queen Anne and more. The West Seattle Herald said the station, called Seattle University Radio / KXSU / 102.1 FM will be active beginning in October of this year. The goal is to provide the West Seattle area with quality information on community happenings, education, entertainment and residents working to help each other.

Sabrina Roach, a philanthropy specialist for Brown Paper Tickets, stated that despite the many advances in digital listening, radio is still doing very well. It’s an inexpensive alternative to listening to broadcasts and music through the Internet.

“They can pull in attention on various parts of the city and community,” Roach said, regarding the new station discussions. “They can become community information hubs.”

Nonprofit stations becoming more popular

Back in 2013, The Nonprofit Times reported that the FCC allowed a nonprofit group just 10 miles south of Seattle to apply for a low-powered FM radio station license. This was the first time the FCC had opened up application availability since 2000. The group, called OneAmerica, advocates for immigrants in the U.S. It was having trouble reaching out to the many different types of people living in Washington State and the Seattle area. An LPFM station was the best solution to this problem.

A low-powered FM station operates on a 100-watt frequency, which only reaches listeners within the surrounding 3 to 5 miles of the station’s physical location. This means that nonprofits with a specific focus in a particular area will have more luck with a station like this than larger organizations. However, it is still an incredibly valuable tool when it comes to recruiting volunteers and spreading the nonprofit’s mission and message. OneAmerica found this channel particularly effective because it’s target audience was comprised of a variety of non-English speakers. The charity was able to broadcast in multiple languages, reaching many types of people with which it would otherwise have been unable to connect.

Alternatives to full stations

While listening may come at no cost to donors, it can be more pricey for an organization. The application with the FCC doesn’t cost anything, but setting up a station could run anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000. Even if a nonprofit organization does not have the funding to begin its own individual station, taking the time to connect with local broadcasters is a smart way to reach many people at once. According to Nielsen, more than 90 percent of Americans over the age of 12 listen to the radio every week. On top of that, public radio reaches 32 million adults weekly, and 13.6 million of those listeners are between the ages of 18 and 49. This is a group that is passionate about helping others and willing to spend a portion of their income on causes they believe are doing right in the world.

Rather than tackling the prospect of devoting an entire station to the charity, make an effort to partner with local stations when hosting events, fundraisers or targeted campaigns. Radio provides nonprofits with access to a huge market for expanding a donor database. When embarking on this type of marketing tactic, it’s important to maintain quality records of any new constituents that hop on board. A fellowship management software platform that accurately tracks donor information is a crucial part of any nonprofit’s operations.