I have been involved in a few fundraisers for the band, soccer, and golf outings. I usually get the job of collecting donations for sponsorships and collecting goods/services for gift baskets for the actual event. I have spent hours and hours and hit the pavement learning something from each experience. Still learning as well. Here are a few tips that I think are great to think about for a newbie or an experienced veteran.
I will say that dependent on what your event is for you may want to shift the audience or businesses you go after. I knew that music stores were great for the band event and I knew sporting stores were great for our golf outing supporting our soccer club. Not that each won’t donate to the other but it is something to keep in mind. Here are a few tips I have put together for you.
Tip 1: Collect pertinent information about your organization such as contact info, logo, tax ID# (important!), mission statement, and all information about the event.
Tip 2: Draft a letter for the businesses or people you will solicit. You may need 2 different letters but you definitely want to address what you are asking for whether it is money or a product or service donation.
Tip 3: Make a list of local businesses, small businesses, home businesses, friends’ businesses. I would recommend soliciting them first in person or over the phone. The smaller and the easier you can get in touch with the owner or person in charge the better. The larger the business the harder it can be, more hoops to jump through, and more time you must give yourself.
Tip 4: Find out if the business requires something to be filled out online as well. Larger businesses, sports teams, museums, grocery stores, zoo all require online forms to be submitted. Many of them require more than 60 days to answer you. Please give yourself ample time and you will receive emails or the actual donations in the mail without any responses.
Tip 5: Make sure you get the name of the person who makes these decisions so you can follow up with them personally. I would go and hand deliver letters and ask the name of the manager or owner even if I didn’t see them it made my follow up more personalized. I may have even gotten more donations because they probably thought they forgot meeting me.
Tip 6: It’s ok to reach out via social media, email, or phone but largest success is those in person visits.
Tip 7: Follow up. Most business owners are busy running their business and are solicited by people all of the time so please remind them.
Tip 8: Try to send proof or thank you cards after the event. Giving shout outs and tagging businesses on your event posts and tagging the businesses is also a great tip to give them advertising to those who were attended and to those who didn’t even attend but follow the page.
Tip 9: Keep contact info, emails, amounts, addresses year to year to try to start with past year donors. This list is also good to know how far in advance you need to solicit. Best lists can note the businesses that aren’t fits for you as well. Try to add a few new donors every year as the event grows. You will see that the longer your event has been going on I think the more comfortable owners are to donate. Maybe even invite your sponsors/donors to your event!
Tip 10: Always be polite and remember you are representing the organization you are supporting as well as yourself. These are a lot of local businesses that you may visit yourself so its always great to help show the owners you are a contributor to their business when not asking for donations as well.