When trying to get donations - whether for a bake sale, uniforms for a sports team or a $5000 a plate art gala dinner - asking tends to feel a lot like begging. If asking makes you uncomfortable, follow these steps to create a smooth, easy process. Here's how to ask for charitable donations.
- Know your goal. Whatever your reason for seeking donations, you need an end goal in mind. Even blood drives that know they will always need more blood set a goal for each drive, each campaign or even each location. Before you start asking for a donation request, know the precise amount you will need.
- Find out your organization's tax status. Charitable or nonprofit organizations must be organized under the 501(c)(3) tax code guidelines in order for donations to be tax deductible for donors. Before you get donations, know your status with the IRS so you can provide potential donors with an answer when they ask about tax implications. People tend to want to donate to charity even more so if they know they'll get a tax benefit from it.
- Organize your call list. Get to know who you will be asking for help. In the case of a bake sale you are seeking donations from parents or a local pastry shop to provide baked goods. Sports teams are better off looking to local businesses for sponsorship.
- Get your message out. Even the local panhandler knows this step. You need to advertise to your specific audience. Send flyers home to parents or hang posters around the school. Advertise on radio or in the newspaper if that is where your audience is most likely to look.
- Make a deal. You may be thinking that all this work of getting donations can cost a lot. You're right, it can. Try to cut costs by forming mutually beneficial partnerships. Negotiate air time with a radio station by agreeing to include their logo on your flyers or have them at the event. Include the pastry shop's name on your signage and use their labeled packaging in return for donated pastries. The shop gets their advertising and exposure to customers in exchange for the donations.
- Tug the heart (or stomach) to get to the wallet. People want to give and they want to help. With so many good causes out there it may be hard for some people to know where to donate. By knowing your audience you can reach them through what matters to them. For some it is the sentimental message of a cute puppy or an ill child, while for others an excellent meal in high company is motivation enough to donate.
- Don't discount peer pressure. One reason larger foundations list their sponsors and levels of donation are that we live in a culture where keeping up with the Joneses is common. Get more donations by inspiring guilt and peer pressure. Sometimes if people find out their friends are donating to a cause, they may decide to donate as well.
The task of getting donations for your cause may seem daunting but it doesn't have to be. Follow those steps to use the format that helps professional fundraisers succeed.