In part one of my series on how to get donations for your fundraiser, I discussed how to get your committee organized for the task. If you are disorganized, you'll wind up with few donations and raise less money for your cause. There are several strategies to employ, as well resources for you to use in order to get as many donations as possible for your fundraiser.
Use Your Contacts
In order to get as many donations as you can for your fundraiser, you need to first go to your community, family and friends. For example, if it is a school fundraiser, a letter should go home from the PTA to both parents and teachers asking for donations. Be specific in what you need. Your community has business owners and employees of companies that may be able to help. And if they cannot, maybe they know someone who can.For example, if your spouse frequently has business lunches or dinners at a specific restaurant, have your spouse ask for a donation on your organization's behalf. If you child has taken dance lessons at a studio for years, ask the manager for a donation. If you have a friend who has a direct sales company, like Pampered Chef, ask them for a donation. It is key to remember that if someone says "no", she or he is not saying no to you, just the opportunity to help.
Local Mom and Pop Shops
Getting donations for your fundraiser is one way for local stores to advertise their businesses to the community. It makes them look good and it is a tax write-off.
It is imperative that everyone be assigned specific areas so there is no overlap and you wind up pestering the business owners. After you go to each place, check it off in a notebook. Sometimes you may have to go back a second time to get your donation, but in the end it is worth it. Always be sure to send the person in charge of the spreadsheet all of the information after you have received the donation. This spreadsheet will be invaluable for next year's fundraiser!
I would avoid going to businesses on Monday, as many times the manager is not in or comes in much later. It is best to go earlier in the day, when stores are not as busy.
Always ask to speak to the manager about your fundraiser, as s/he is the one who will be able to make the final decision.
Donations From Restaurants
If you are seeking a donation for your fundraiser from a local restaurant, there are a few good times to go and make your request. The first is early, between 11:00 and 11:30, before the lunch rush is on. The manager is typically there and is not stressed by a large lunch crowd.
The other best time to go is between 3:00 and 4:30, when the restaurant is between lunch and dinner. Managers will be more likely to speak to you in person.
The third best time to ask for a donation for your fundraiser is when you are actually dining at the restaurant. Ask your waiter if you can speak to the manager, and be sure to assure him that it is not about him! By asking for a donation while dining at a restaurant shows that someone from your area eats there. Always be sure to carry a few of your fundraiser letter in your bag and in your car.
One more thing-most people eat at restaurants out of their town. Be sure to do a Google search of "Restaurants in _____" Place you may never have heard of are there!
It is very possible to solicit donations for your fundraiser without ever leaving home! Using email to ask for donations is a time saver, because you can do it at any time you have and not only during business hours. Also, some businesses may only donate to certain causes, saving you time by not going into the store. All of this information can be found at the store's website.
Before you start you email campaign, make sure you have all of the necessary information scanned so you can send it along with request. It should go something like this:
"My name is ___________ and I am with the (organization name). We are having a (type of) fundraiser on (date) at (place) to (reason for fundraiser).
As part of our fundraiser, we are asking for donations for (raffle baskets/silent auction). Would you please consider donating a gift certificate from your business? I have all of the Tax ID information attached to this email.
Thank you for supporting (cause)
How to you go about finding the businesses emails? There are a few ways.
Go to the Company Website
There is usually am "About Us" section. From there, you will find if they donate and how you can go about getting a donation to your fundraiser. It will usually be under:
If the website does not have this, there is always a "Contact Us" or "Customer Service" for you to send your email. This is typically in tiny print at the bottom of the page. Be sure to leave out the part about attachments, since you cannot attach anything to a message or question box. You will almost always get some kind of response, either positive or negative.
Local Business Associations
Every town has a Business Association with a list of business and contact their information. This information is all on the web and waiting for you to use! Be sure to ask from the surrounding towns, not just your own.
Magazine and Newspaper Advertisements
Many businesses spend a lot of money to advertise in print. They typically have contact information, which includes phone numbers and websites. Cut those out and email everyone. Some smaller and newer businesses would love to get their name into the community and this is a great avenue to advertise, even if they are not located in your town.
Be sure to make three separate email folders to save your contacts. One should be for "Donations" One should be "Rejections" and one should be "Maybe Next Year". Some companies simply have used up their funds for the year, but may be able to help next year.
Don;t forget to read some great books about fundraising to give you even more ideas!
Now that you are armed with ways to get donations for your fundraiser, go out and get them!