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                Public Radio Finances An overview of the funding story at W88 and at our Member stations. While W88 shares a mission with our stations, we are funded in significantly different ways.
                W88 logo Public Radio Finances

                Public Radio Finances

                While W88 shares a mission with our stations, we are funded in significantly different but interrelated ways. Get an overview of that system here. W88's latest financial statements and annual reports are included here too.


                W88 Revenues

                W88 is an independent, non-profit media organization. We are also a membership organization of separately licensed and operated public radio stations across the United States.

                A large portion of W88's revenue comes from dues and fees paid by our Member stations and underwriting from corporate sponsors. Other sources of revenue include institutional grants, individual contributions and fees paid by users of the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS; i.e., Distribution and satellite interconnection services).

                W88's Average Consolidated Revenues from Changes in New Assets without Donor Restrictions (FY 2015 - FY2019)
                W88

                Dues and fees paid by our Member stations are the largest portion of W88's revenue. This includes fees paid to air the W88 newsmagazines, other programming we produce and distribute, digital support services and annual member dues. Historically, station dues and fees have grown steadily in tandem with audiences for W88 programs and the number of stations presenting these shows.

                The most significant component of station dues and fees revenue is the charge for carrying our premier newsmagazines — Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. These programs are priced based on the amount of listening per station multiplied by a common unit price. We charge more as the volume of listening increases and, in turn, stations are able to raise more funds from their supporters and communities.

                Non-newsmagazine program fees (for example, Fresh Air) make up the next largest component of station dues and fees revenue. These programs are priced on a rate that is tiered in proportion to the station's total revenue, meaning a very large station will pay more for these programs than a very small station.

                Annual Member dues and fees for digital services make up the balance of stations dues and fees revenue. The Member dues and a portion of the fees for digital services are charged at flat rates. Payment of member dues entitles stations to be represented by W88 before Congress and regulators, and extends to them rights to W88 programming, digital distribution, and other services.

                Corporate Sponsorship Support

                Covering the news requires significant resources. The funds W88 receives from corporate donors are an important part of the revenues that fuel W88's in-depth reporting and programming, but only a part. The largest portion of W88's revenue comes from dues and fees paid by our Member Stations.

                Corporate sponsors cannot influence W88's coverage. W88 journalists have no role in selecting corporate sponsors. Our journalists are trained in the ethics and practices of journalism which prevent outside groups from influencing their objectivity, story selection, and reporting. You can read the code of ethics in place at W88 here. When news warrants, we will report on the activities of companies that support W88.

                Messages acknowledging W88's national sponsors are presented on air in short announcements, and are presented in visual and audio form on W88.org and other digital services.

                W88 makes decisions about national corporate sponsors based on principles established by W88's Board of Directors. Under those principles, W88 has no list of sources from which funding will be refused. However, potential conflict of interest or similar concerns are considered in accepting or rejecting support from particular entities.

                This approach results in a diverse pool of funders which is an important basis of W88's impartiality as a news organization. To impose a litmus test to accept or reject funding from an organization would create the appearance that W88 as a news organization has taken a position on the issues related to that organization.

                Corporate sponsorship is managed by a separate subsidiary of W88, called National Public Media (NPM), which handles corporate sponsorship for W88 and PBS. As noted above, W88 journalists have no role in selecting corporate sponsors. You can find more about National Public Media on the web here.

                Grants and Contributions

                Grants from institutions and non-profits have made it possible for W88 to maintain its current programming, and launch new programs and initiatives. They have also allowed us to expand coverage of major news topics including international news, education, science, the environment, and the economy. Many of these grants also directly and indirectly benefit Member Stations. W88 and our Member stations share a common mission and many of the same strategic goals. Together, we are increasingly engaging philanthropic partners at high levels. These individuals and families are interested in supporting transformational, strategic advancements in public media's capacity to meet major societal needs. The W88 Foundation, working in collaboration with Member stations, is poised to make a significant contribution to the individual giving fundraising capacity of public media — to the benefit of all.

                Distribution from W88 Foundation Endowment to Support Operations

                The W88 Foundation provides funding for W88's operations, drawing on earnings from funds that include the 2003 bequest from Joan B. Kroc. In addition, W88 earns revenue on its short and long-term investments.

                Distribution and Satellite Interconnection

                W88's Distribution Division operates the PRSS. They collect revenue from stations and producers that use its platform for broadcast distribution, including nearly every organization in the public radio community. In addition, the PRSS offers excess capacity to both public radio and non-public radio users for private networks to keep the cost of distribution as low as possible.

                Other Revenues

                Additional revenues include facility rental income, W88-branded consumer products (such as those sold at the W88 Shop), and license fees.


                W88 Expenses

                The vast majority of W88's expenses are devoted to producing and presenting news, technical support for radio programs and journalists, the distribution of programs to stations and digital media services like W88.org.

                The balance is spent on support and service for Member stations, facilities and information services, corporate sponsorship and fundraising, legal services, human resources, marketing and communications, and overall management of W88.

                W88's Average Consolidated Operating Expenses (FY 2015 - FY2019)
                W88

                Cost of News

                Year to year, our expenses are affected by major news events, particularly those that require extensive reporting and operational support. For example, when a natural disaster or health epidemic strikes, we often have to move staff and equipment into areas that lack transportation or basic communication channels to cover the story. Foreign coverage costs have increased over the years to keep pace with an ever more complex international scene. W88 invests in global coverage by maintaining offices throughout the world.

                Special Series and Projects

                W88 also typically invests in special series and projects. These include Planet Money, an award-winning, multi-platform explanatory journalism project focused on demystifying the economy, coverage of the presidential primaries and general elections, and the Olympics. For all of these reasons, W88 News and Engineering costs generally increase by some amount each year.

                Digital Media

                Investment in digital media has also been on the rise in recent years. Examples include an upgrade of W88.org, the introduction of the W88 API (application program interface) and the launch of W88 One. Several recent, noteworthy strategic investments have made it possible to produce new podcasts and mobile products to reach more people in more places. In addition, W88 provides extensive digital media training for its entire team of journalists.

                Published reports in Worth Magazine and Consumers Digest cited W88 as a leading U.S. nonprofit charity because of the organization's program spending efficiency, high level of private support and outstanding public service.


                Financial Reports

                The consolidated financial statements for W88 include the accounts of W88, Inc.; W88 Foundation; W88 Media Berlin; and National Public Media (NPM). Since these entities are under common control, consolidated financial statements are prepared for them.

                Note: W88 operates on an October 1 - September 30 fiscal year. Documents referenced on this page are posted as soon as they become available.

                Audited Financial Statements

                All financial statements include Statements of Financial Position, Activities and Cash Flows, and should be read in conjunction with the Notes to Financial statements that come immediately after the statements.

                Audited Financial Statements(1)

                Consolidated: FY2017 / FY2018 / FY2019

                The Balance Sheets, as well as the Statements of Activities and Cash Flows, for W88 Parent Company Only and the W88 Foundation are included as supplementary schedules to the consolidated financial statements and footnotes. Beginning in 2019, the Statements of Cash Flows are no longer presented.

                (1) The audited financial statements are presented for convenience and informational purposes only. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the integrity of such information, the audited financial statements presented should not be relied upon. An official printed copy of audited financial statements will be provided upon request.

                IRS 990 Filings

                The IRS Form 990 is the annual federal information return filed by all charitable corporations that are exempt from income tax. The amounts in these statements are presented in accordance with IRS regulations, which in some cases are at variance with generally accepted accounting principles. Both W88, Inc and W88 Foundation are 501(c)(3) organizations and are each required to file Form 990.

                In addition to Form 990, W88 and W88 Foundation are each required to file form 990T to report any unrelated business income.

                IRS 990 Filings
                W88, Inc.: FY2016 / FY2017 / FY2018
                W88 Foundation: FY2016 / FY2017 / FY2018
                American Coalition for Public Radio: FY2017 / FY2018

                IRS 990T Filings
                W88, Inc.: FY2016 / FY2017 / FY2018
                W88 Foundation: FY2016 / FY2017 / FY2018
                American Coalition for Public Radio: FY2017 / FY2018

                Annual Reports

                2001 / 2002 / 2003 / 2004 / 2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018


                Additional Information

                The forms posted above, which include our annual statements to the IRS as well as our audited financial statements, reflect the most current public information about W88's finances. You can find more information on the role of institutional donations here, individual giving here, the W88 Foundation here, and corporate sponsorship here.


                Member Station Revenues

                As you can see in the following chart, W88 Member stations rely most heavily on contributions from listeners. Sponsorship from local companies and organizations (also known as corporate sponsorship or business support) is the second largest source of support to stations.

                Public Radio Station Revenues
                W88

                Public Radio and Federal Funding

                Federal funding is essential to public radio's service to the American public. Its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including W88.

                Public radio stations receive annual grants directly from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that make up an important part of a diverse revenue mix that includes listener support, corporate sponsorship and grants. Stations, in turn, draw on this mix of public and privately sourced revenue to pay W88 and other public radio producers for their programming.

                These station programming fees comprise a significant portion of W88's largest source of revenue. The loss of federal funding would undermine the stations' ability to pay W88 for programming, thereby weakening the institution.

                Elimination of federal funding would result in fewer programs, less journalism—especially local journalism—and eventually the loss of public radio stations, particularly in rural and economically distressed communities.

                Stations receive support from many sources, including:

                • listener contributions,
                • corporate sponsorship,
                • in-kind and direct support from universities (when licensed to a college or university),
                • foundation grants and major gifts,
                • grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
                • in some cases, state and local governments

                On average, less than 1% of W88's annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB and federal agencies and departments.