If you're like most organizations, funds are tight. But you may also want to host community events, such as happy hours or picnics, to engage your constituency. Here are some ideas on how you can simultaneously solicit donations for these events and build great community relationships to make your events the talk of the town.
The process of soliciting donations is a wonderful opportunity to connect with small business owners in your community, many of whom are more than willing to help out great causes. But how do you effectively approach them, make your case, build a relationship and obtain a donation? Here's my process:
Go in person. It might be easier to send an email or make a call, but you'll be much more effective if you can meet the owner or manager face to face. This way they can place you and feel more of a connection to the cause they are giving to.
- Have a specific request ready. When requesting donations, have a template catered to the type of donation you are requesting. If you are requesting food, talk a little about what the food is for and who will benefit etc. Basically tie in how the donation will be used, and have it written out clearly.
- Explain how it benefits them. Owners and managers want to increase traffic to their business. Tell them how many people you're expecting, and show them that they'll be seen in a favorable light and get access to new clients.
- Offer them an opportunity to promote their business at your event. Ask the business if they have flyers or information about their business they would like displayed at your event.
- Follow up with an email. Business owners are busy, so email and phone calls are usually a good way to follow up from your in-person meeting.
- Show your gratitude. If you do receive a donation, make sure to send a thank you card. Include a photo from your event that shows people enjoying the donated goods. This will encourage them to donate again in the future!
We've had some great events, and built strong relationships with the local businesses who have helped us pull them off. And you can build relationships with these businesses around other issues too, like organizing them around issues you both support!
Renee Ridgeway is Office Space Manager (and Event Coordinator) at NOI
Photo looks yummy, right? Renee got all that and more donated for our Valentine's Day Happy Hour using this system!