How to leverage business opportunities to raise money.
It's surprising how many school organizations don't reach out for business donations when augmenting their school's fundraising events. Having extra money, items, or even volunteer assistance from the business can make your projects more rewarding and productive.
Both local businesses and national chains are used to receiving solicitations from nonprofit organizations. This makes the donation process somewhat competitive, so finding ways to set your organization apart is important.
Understanding your group's needs and knowing how to approach businesses is important if you expect to secure donations. Here are some things to consider.
Advantages of Approaching Local Businesses
Local businesses have a vested interest in the community. Many social ties are at stake as business owners may be parents themselves or happen to know people who are associated with the school. Therefore they may be motivated because they already know who will benefit from the donation.
National Chains can be Good Resources too
Store managers can often donate gift cards or actual merchandise that can be used for raffles at school events or as selling incentives. Many fundraising companies have a place on their website where they'll accept online donation requests. The PTO Today website offers its Ultimate Donation List with tips from various parent group leaders.
How to reach out to Business Owners
First, know what you hope to receive from the business. Plan to sit down with your board members and discuss a wish list of items and how you would use them. Second, list businesses in your area that you'd like to approach. Make sure you know when to approach them. Visiting a restaurant during the dinner hour is probably not a good idea, and some businesses prefer to donate at specific times based on their fiscal calendar.
Introduce your organization and ask for the person making the donation decision. Let them know you'll send a donation letter providing specific information. Bring the letter if you feel it's best to make an appointment. Ensure the letter is printed on your school or organization letterhead and contains your contact information. Be sure to make your letter personalized by including the name of the contact person and the business name.
How to make it a Win for the Business
Your donation letter should include information about how the business will benefit. Schools provide an excellent resource for businesses to reach out to their families. Ensure the business knows you plan to promote their name at upcoming meetings or by using appropriate event promotional material.
Donations can also be tax deductible for the business, so if your PTO or PTA is a 501(c)(3) organization, be sure to provide them with a receipt.
Every business that donates to your organization must receive a thank you letter. Take the time to make it personable. Also, consider getting your students involved to make it even more unique and special.
School events and businesses can benefit greatly by following simple, easy-to-implement guidelines.
Want to learn more fundraising news and advice? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, where we share best practices, insider scoops, and more.
Clay Boggess has been designing fundraising programs for schools and various nonprofit organizations throughout the US since 1999. He’s helped administrators, teachers, and outside support entities such as PTAs and PTOs raise millions of dollars. Clay is an owner and partner at Big Fundraising Ideas.