Nonprofit and Charitable Advertising - Tips For Writing and Recording a 20-Second Radio Ad

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Local charitable and non-profit organizations often depend on free public-service radio announcements as one of their primary methods of getting their message through to their local communities.

While free radio advertisement is appreciated, often these are mere 20-second spots and writing advertising material for these slots presents unique challenges for organizations who want to get out to the public as much information as possible about their companies.

The following instructions provide the elements of a recruiting ad for a non-profit organization but can be used or modified for a variety of ads. Follow these guidelines to produce your own winning 20-second recruiting ad spot:

  • Write your message in one to two paragraphs, double spaced
  • Time yourself as you read it at a fast but steady rate of speed (it will be much longer than 20 seconds)
  • Start the "pruning" process by eliminating everything that is not central and relevant to the core message
  • Use FEWER words that pack impact
  • Eliminate as many useless words and phrases as possible (such as: a, and; as a result, etc)
  • Express a thought as succinctly as possible in order to use less words (e.g.: "are you a leader?" instead of "Do you have leadership abilities?"
  • Use words with less syllables (e.g.: the previous illustration uses 5 syllables in "are you a leader" as opposed to 10 syllables in the alternate form)
  • Mention your target market (use "you" for the general public)
  • Mention the qualities, skills, knowledge or abilities they need to have
  • Mention the opportunity (to serve, to help, etc)
  • Mention your organization's name at least 3 times
  • Mention the role that the recruit will play in your organization (Volunteers; mentors)
  • Mention what they will be doing (e.g. helping at risk students succeed)
  • Mention the benefit to them (community service bullet on their resumes)
  • Mention the phone number to call
  • Mention a contact name
  • Mention the website to go to for more information (if your organization has one)
  • Set timer and read your message again clearly, but at a faster than normal pace
  • Continue to prune, eliminate or substitute words until your goal is achieved
An example of an effective 20-second radio recruiting ad that I wrote for a non-profit organization that is seeking volunteers to mentor at-risk students is shown below. Compare the final product to the guideline suggestions and you will find that each element is fully addressed.

An Example of an Effective 20-second Radio Ad for a Non-profit Organization:
"Are you a positive person?

Do you have leadership abilities?

Can you motivate others?

Then (Name of Organization) needs you!

Become a (Name of Organization) volunteer!

Help an at-risk student succeed!

Build your resume - join(Name of Organization)!

Call (Contact name) about(Name of Organization) at 555-1212 or visit (address of website)."

(c) 2009

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Ruth M Tappin has 1 articles online

Ruth M. Tappin

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Nonprofit and Charitable Advertising - Tips For Writing and Recording a 20-Second Radio Ad

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This article was published on 2010/03/28