Dogs are great at begging, but it's not so easy for humans. There's a lot of competition for charitable dollars. With so many worthy causes and nonprofits needing assistance, it's important to approach companies the right way when you're asking for support. We found out what works and what doesn't straight from those who have gone through fundraising experiences. Don't worry, no puppy dog eyes required.
Make a Targeted List
Jill Mahoney, a Missouri-based marketing specialist, is working to raise money for the St. Louis nonprofit Chesterfield Arts through a "Make Your Mark" event. She decided to organize a pin-up campaign and invite local retailers to participate. Customers are invited to add their name to a sign that is posted on a store wall or window for a minimum $1 donation. "Before asking businesses to participate in the campaign we made a list of which businesses to target," explains Mahoney. "We considered factors such as location, audience and foot traffic of the businesses and focused on family-friendly establishments because the Make Your Mark event is family-oriented."
Leave Behind Materials
When you approach businesses about donating to your cause, don't come empty handed. They may forget about your request or want more information about the charity. "We created informational folders for the business so we could have a visual and a leave behind and worked on pitch and developed answers to questions the retailers may have," explains Mahoney.
Create Value to the Donation
Ideally, everyone would give to your charity just because it's a worthy cause. But it doesn't always work that way. A great way to stand out from the crowd of requests is to create value to the donation. Make it easy for them to say yes by offering perks, free promotion and exposure. "The key is to ask in a way that shows the advantage to the donating company: the press and personal exposure they'll get, the association with a good cause and what that means to their business," says marketing author Shel Horowitz.
Focus on the Company's Goals Too
You may be working on your cause, but when you turn the focus on the company you'll have a better shot at getting them to hand over money. Joan McCoy, President of Little One Books says it's very helpful to make a meaningful connection with someone in the company and research their goals. "Most companies think of donations to nonprofit organizations as investments, and therefore, they want to know how their investment is going to benefit them," says McCoy. "You have to be able to explain how the donation will help the company with whatever goals they are trying to achieve with their contributions program."
Yes, postmen still exist and people still mail letters. And according to Elizabeth Finch, Public Information Coordinator for Fox Valley Special Recreation Association, that's a great way to ask for monetary support. "Believe it or not, in an age of burgeoning technology it is actually, generally, easier to request donations via snail mail," she says. "Or, at least, more effective. With the onslaught of social media and persistent email spam, companies are less likely to open an email request than a letter."
Bottom line, try to put yourself in the company's shoes. Think about the best way to reach the right person, develop a strategy and try to serve them. That way you're creating a win-win situation for both the charity and the company willing to donate.