It’s interesting that many sponsors choose not to pursue one source that can prove to be of extreme value. They may have considered going after corporate donations, but may not know how to pursue them. Is it a lack of confidence and vision, or perhaps not knowing what to say?
Failing to have, and effectively integrate, a ‘business ask strategy’ into your campaign leaves money on the table. Successful fundraising groups already know what to do and are reaping the financial rewards. Corporations often have money set aside for charitable causes and products they can donate or may be able to provide hands-on volunteer assistance.
Both local businesses and national chains alike are used to getting solicitations from nonprofit organizations. This can make the donation process competitive, but it also creates windows of opportunities. This is why it’s vital to find ways to excel in this space by making your organization stand out.
Having a good understanding of your group’s needs and knowing how to approach and sell a business on your cause is important for securing donations. Here are some things to consider.
Local businesses are often already invested in their community. For example, if you’re looking to raise money for a school, there are many social ties at stake since business owners are often parents themselves. Or they might know people who are associated with a school. Therefore, if they already have an idea of who’s going to benefit from the donation, they may be more willing to contribute.
Business managers will often donate gift cards, for instance. This will bring people back into their stores later on. Or sometimes, they may provide actual merchandise. These items can, in turn, be used for raffles, or even as selling incentives for a future campaign. Gifts that are associated with the business are examples of goodwill promotional gestures that can help put companies in a positive light in the eyes of the community.
Many fundraiser companies have an online store that the school’s parents can promote to friends and family. People can also make online donations directly to the school or group. On the other hand, if you’re a church, Donorbox provides 10 practical tips that will increase online donations.
First, be clear on your purpose. Be prepared to explain how you plan to use the donor’s contribution. In other words, what is your implementation strategy, and how will your intended recipients benefit? The goal is to encourage them to relate to your cause at an emotional level. It’s just as vital if the company knows how they’ll benefit as well.
Make a list of businesses in your area that you feel would be good prospects. Be sure to carefully consider your reasons for approaching each company. In other words, have a good understanding of what specific outcome you hope to achieve from each business.
Second, make sure you know when to make your approach. For example, visiting a restaurant during the dinner hour is probably not a great idea. Plus, some businesses prefer to donate at certain times of the year based on their fiscal calendar. It’s important to do some research ahead of time on the types of businesses that you plan to target.
Document everything. Take detailed notes on what you learn along the way and organize your thoughts into an outline. Your end goal is to create a well thought out donation letter that effectively communicates your mission and can be tailored to specific businesses.
Introduce yourself and your organization and ask for the person who can make the donation decision. If they’re unavailable, request contact information and let them know that you’ll be sending a letter that provides specific details on what the contribution will be used for. If you’re able to make an appointment, bring the letter with you. The letter should be printed on your school or organization letterhead and should contain your contact information.
Be sure also personalize your letter by including the name of the contact person and the business name. This shows your attention to detail and that you are respecting the decision-maker. For more information on how to build a donor list, see 6 Event Fundraising Tips to Identify and Retain New Donors.
Turning your request into a mutual benefit can make a big difference. Your donation letter should include information about how the business will benefit. For instance, schools provide an excellent resource for the business to be able to reach out to their families. Make sure your business contact knows that you plan to promote their generosity. You should talk about them at any future events or meetings, as well as in any printed literature that you intend to hand out.
Social media is also a great way to get the word out about what the company has contributed to your cause. Posting how the business has supported you on Facebook or Twitter is always appreciated.
If you’re a PTO or PTA and are a 501(c)(3) organization, donations can also be tax-deductible for the business, so be sure to provide them with a receipt. For more details on this, learn how to make your PTO tax exempt.
Make it a habit to send a hand-written thank you letter to every business that donates to your organization. This gratitude will help you stand out, especially since many organizations don’t do this. And take the time to make it unique and personable. If you’re a school, consider getting your students involved in some way to make it even more special.
Nonprofits and businesses alike can form great partnerships by following some simple and easy tips to incorporate strategies.