Can nonprofits mention “free admission” to their events?
While cost information is not generally permissible in an underwriting message, the FCC does permit more flexibility for nonprofit underwriters, including the use of calls to action and other language not otherwise permissible. So from an FCC standpoint, “free admission” would be allowed in a nonprofit spot, but the question of how much flexibility to allow nonprofits really is up to an individual station. The nuances between for-profit and nonprofit guidelines really are a matter of station policy vs. dictated by the FCC. Many stations choose to apply the same rules to nonprofits as they do for their for-profit sponsors, for 1) tax reasons (UBIT may apply) 2) to keep their on-air sound consistent and 3) to avoid listener confusion, especially in categories where there are both for-profit and nonprofit businesses with similar services operating in the same space (e.g. Healthcare).
What about nonprofits that have a commercial workforce development arm?
If the organization paying for the announcement is a nonprofit, then the FCC permits more flexibility for their message, including if that nonprofit has a commercial workforce development arm and if they want to mention this aspect of their mission in their spot. So yes, this is likely permissible.
What about sponsors mentioning that a certain % of their proceeds go to charity?
A for-profit mentioning that a certain % of their proceeds go to charity arguably creates a more favorable image of the underwriter, and thus would be considered promotional by the FCC, and should be avoided. That said, a for-profit entity can mention the name of a nonprofit entity or charity in its credit, so long as it is clear that the for-profit has paid for the announcement.
What about nonprofit underwriters mentioning their own fundraising?
The FCC allows announcements that promote the activities of other nonprofits, including fundraising. The caveat is that these announcements cannot “substantially interrupt or suspend regularly scheduled programming or constitute ‘joint fundraising’”. Underwriting spots are not considered substantial interruptions to regularly scheduled programming so mentions of fundraising activities by nonprofits is OK. That said, many stations choose not to allow this, in deference to their own individual giving programs and fundraising efforts. This is a matter of station policy, not the FCC.