Before you contact a business for a donation, you’ll want to do a little research on their website about how they handle donation requests. Some businesses strictly accept item requests online to be more organized and efficient. Submitting your request online will get you a faster answer and is more likely to result in a donation. (BiddingForGood offers a service like this to businesses called AIRS) Most companies do still accept donations via letter, email, phone, and in-person requests, but be sure to submit your request online first, if that is their stated preference.
Ask for the Decision Maker
When you do reach out to a business by phone, you’ll want to find out who you need to speak with about your request. If you make a cold call to a hotel, whoever picks up the phone probably isn’t the person who can give the approval for a donation. When you call, ask for the name and contact information of the person who handles charitable donation requests, so you can reach out to that person directly.
Develop New Methods of Reaching Out and Following Up
It’s a good idea to reach out in more ways than one. Writing a letter is one of the best ways to summarize who you are, what your organization does, what you’re asking for, and why. Follow up will most likely be needed, so it’s a good idea to mention when you’ll be making your follow up phone call in your letter. When you call you can reference your letter making for a more efficient conversation and an easier “yes.”
Ask for a Specific Amount
For example, it’s better to ask a hotel manager for a three night hotel stay than to just ask for a donation. You’ve done the hard part by coming up with an idea for the donation, and if you ask for what you really want, you may just get it. With this strategy, you have also left the door open for a counter offer. You may not be able to get a three night hotel stay, but you may get a one night stay instead.
It is also important to explain what your organization does. A donor is more likely to make a donation when they understand the impact that your organization has and how they can support it. Being specific is also to your advantage. Saying “Your donation will help our animal shelter” is not as effective as “Your donation will help to pay for vaccinations for our puppies”. As in all “asks”, telling your story in a compelling way is one of the best ways to assure success.
One of the most crucial parts of any donation request is the “thank you”. Whether you receive the donation you ask for or not, sending a timely thank you note will go a long way. You are much more likely to receive a donation in the future if you do. A genuine “thank you” will leave a positive lasting impression that your donor won’t forget.