Public Radio Finances
While NPR shares a mission with our stations, we are funded in significantly different but interrelated ways. Get an overview of that system here. NPR's latest financial statements and annual reports are included here too.
NPR 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.
NPR's two largest revenue sources are corporate sponsorships and fees paid by NPR Member organizations to support a suite of programs, tools, and services. Other sources of revenue include institutional grants, individual contributions and fees paid by users of the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS; i.e. Satellite interconnection and distribution).
NPR's average consolidated revenues from changes in net assets without donor restrictions (FY18-FY22)
Fees from NPR Member organizations
NPR's Member organizations support NPR financially in two ways:
- A core fee for the NPR newsmagazines (Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition), as well as an array of digital content, tools and platforms, and a suite of services designed to drive audience engagement and support
- License fees for a portfolio of broadcast programs other than the NPR newsmagazines
The core fee calculation is based on a percentage of stations' membership revenue, as a reflection of the value that NPR programs and services provide to Members and their audiences.
The license fees for individual news/talk, entertainment, and music programs (e.g. programs like Fresh Air, Here & Now, 1A World Cafe, or Throughline) are set using pricing tiers based on each Member's total revenue.
The fee model includes provisions that recognize NPR Members with particular characteristics that contribute to NPR's audience service mission, including Members designated by CPB as serving rural and minority audiences.
Corporate Sponsorship Support
Covering the news requires significant resources. The funds NPR receives from corporate donors are an important part of the revenues that fuel NPR's in-depth reporting and programming, but only a part. One of the largest portions of NPR's revenue comes from dues and fees paid by our Member Stations.
Corporate sponsors cannot influence NPR's coverage. NPR 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 NPR here. When news warrants, we will report on the activities of companies that support NPR.
Messages acknowledging NPR's national sponsors are presented on air in short announcements, and are presented in visual and audio form on NPR.org and other digital services.
NPR makes decisions about national corporate sponsors based on principles established by NPR's Board of Directors. Under those principles, NPR 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 NPR's impartiality as a news organization. To impose a litmus test to accept or reject funding from an organization would create the appearance that NPR as a news organization has taken a position on the issues related to that organization.
NPR is represented by National Public Media LLC (NPM), a majority-owned subsidiary of NPR Asset Holding Company, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of NPR. NPM also handles some corporate sponsorship for NPR and PBS. As noted above, NPR 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 NPR 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. NPR 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 NPR 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 NPR Foundation Board-Designated and Endowment Funds to Support Operations
The NPR Foundation provides funding for NPR's operations, drawing on earnings from funds that include the 2003 bequest from Joan B. Kroc and other endowment funds, as well as a Board-designated fund. In addition, NPR earns revenue on its short and long-term investments.
Satellite Interconnection and Distribution
NPR's Distribution Division operates the Public Radio Satellite System ("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.
Additional revenues include facility rental income, royalties, licensing of programming, and other fees.
The vast majority of NPR'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 NPR.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 NPR.
NPR's Average Consolidated Operating1 Expenses (FY18-FY22)
1Non-operating expenses (e.g. depreciation, amortization, interest, losses of disposition on fixed assets) are not included.
"Content production and distribution" includes expenses incurred by NPR's News and information, Programming, Engineering, NPR Music, and Distribution divisions. "Digital and other" program services includes expenses incurred by NPR's Digital, Member Partnership, and Consumer Products divisions. "Support services" includes expenses incurred by the following divisions: Development; Sponsorship; Facilities; Information Technology; Audience Growth; Communications; Finance; People Team; Office of General Counsel; and Executive leadership offices.
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. NPR invests in global coverage by maintaining offices throughout the world.
Special Series and Projects
NPR 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, NPR News and Engineering costs generally increase by some amount each year.
Investment in digital media has also been on the rise in recent years. Examples include an upgrade of NPR.org, the introduction of the NPR API (application program interface) and the launch of NPR 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, NPR provides extensive digital media training for its entire team of journalists.
Published reports in Worth Magazine and Consumers Digest cited NPR as a leading U.S. nonprofit charity because of the organization's program spending efficiency, high level of private support and outstanding public service.
The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of National Public Radio, Inc.; NPR Foundation; American Coalition for Public Radio; NPR International Operations, Inc.; and NPR Asset Holding Company, Inc. (which includes 1111 JW, LLC; 1111 Media Enterprises, LLC; and National Public Media LLC).
Note: NPR operates on an October 1 - September 30 fiscal year. Documents referenced on this page are posted as soon as they become available.
Audited Consolidated Financial Statements
All consolidated financial statements should be read in conjunction with the notes that come immediately after the consolidated statements.
Audited Financial Statements(1)
Consolidated: FY2020 / FY2021 / FY2022
The Balance Sheets, as well as the Statements of Activities and Cash Flows, for NPR Parent Company Only and the NPR Foundation are included as supplementary schedules to the consolidated financial statements and footnotes.
(1) The audited consolidated financial statements are presented for convenience and information purposes only. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the integrity of such information, the audited consolidated financial statements presented should not be relied upon. An official printed copy of audited consolidated 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 NPR, Inc and NPR Foundation are 501(c)(3) organizations and are each required to file Form 990.
In addition to Form 990, NPR and NPR Foundation are each required to file form 990T to report any unrelated business income.
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 NPR's finances. Other NPR About pages offer additional information on the role of institutional donations, individual giving, the NPR Foundation, and corporate sponsorship.
Member Station Revenues
As you can see in the following chart, public radio 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 (FY20)
Public Radio and Federal Funding
Federal funding is essential to public radio's service to the American public and its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR.
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 NPR and other public radio producers for their programming.
These station programming fees comprise a significant portion of NPR's largest source of revenue. The loss of federal funding would undermine the stations' ability to pay NPR 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 NPR's annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB and federal agencies and departments.