Q. I’ve heard non-profits can obtain free advertising in many media outlets, is that true?

A. Yes. You can get entire advertising campaigns created, distributed and placed in magazines, radio and even television at no cost to your organization. That being said, receiving this donation of time and human resources may require you to give up bits of control – not in the message, but in the way the message is delivered.

Most advertising and marketing agencies donate a certain percentage of time and human resources to creating Public Service Announcements (PSAs). Agencies do this because of a relationship with a board member or staff person at the nonprofit . The agency may also undertake such pro bono work to gain exposure or because they want to win awards. Helping nonprofits can be mutually beneficial. If you have two sentences of pre-existing copy that you are hoping to look prettier if someone else puts it together This is not the way to place two sentences of pre-existing copy into a print ad or get a radio ad run between 10am-11am on a certain day. However, if you are willing to allow for creativity – with your approval at each step – your organization or event may gain huge amounts of exposure.

Is it worth it? The Advertising Council www.adcouncil.org lists almost 50 organizations, ranging in mission from early childhood development to family literacy, from historic preservation to youth volunteerism that have thought it would benefit their cause. Many schools that have academic programs in advertising and public relations in their Schols of Communication (e.g., Boston University and University of Texas) often have student-run agencies that create and place advertisements for non-profits. Even up-and-coming advertising executives turn to small organizations and non-profits to improve their portfolios.

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