Donation Soliciting 101

Are you planning a fundraiser? The following questions and answers are critical to consider as you plan and execute a successful event! Reading this may be daunting if you are starting from square one. Remember that Do Good Events is here to help guide, consult and manage this process with you!

What style of fundraising will best suit your event?
Live auction and fund-a-need appeals will generally make the most money for your organization. If the donor base is prepared to give in this way, it can be a powerful showing! Silent auctions and mystery box purchasing can take a great deal more work and organization, but it allows all attendees at the event to participate at varying levels. Consider a combination of ways to give at your event, to build excitement and increase participation! A consultation with Do Good Events can assist with determining the best process for your organization.

Who will attend your event?
Consider your audience when selecting the style of fundraising and items you plan to solicit. Unique sporting experiences, vacation packages and health and wellness certificates are great for live auctions. A wine wall or Scotch and cigar trunk can be a draw for enthusiasts. Mystery boxes filled with restaurant and merchandise gift cards can be sold for as little as $20, with prizes $20 and up. Silent auctions are visually appealing and create buzz during cocktail hour.

Where will you request donations?
Think about your normal routines for dining, shopping and services, and always carry solicitation materials and your business card or contact information. Within your organization, everyone should consider their network and think outside the box. A CPA could offer a tax preparation certificate. A hair stylist could donate a cut and color. A teacher could offer tutoring services. Then, before getting in the car or picking up the phone, check the website! Many large organizations have online donation forms to automate the process, try the organization’s url /donationrequest or /donation.

How will you manage physical items?
Consider how donors will get their items to the fundraiser. Do Good Events works in partnership with organizations to ensure things are well cared for and tracked in this process. If the request is for gift cards or materials that can be mailed, your gathering process is simpler but you need more lead time.  Silent auctions mean a mountain of items coming together, often more quickly and easily because anything can be part of a basket or donation! Have a large space ready and keep detailed records of who is storing which items and how they will be transported to your event.

When should you solicit?
As early as possible! Requesting donations 2-3 months prior to your event will yield best results. When entering online request forms for professional sports teams, for instance, they will often send an item 6 weeks after receiving your request. Be aware of peak and off times for businesses. If you are calling or visiting restaurants, 9:00-11:00 am and 2:00-4:00 pm, Tuesdays through Fridays are times general managers would possibly be in the building, and when there isn’t a dining room full of patrons.

How will you track donations?
A spreadsheet in a shared drive is an easy way for multiple solicitors to track items. Brainstorm a long list of items/places to solicit as a group, then assign specific people to make contact with each one. Throughout the process, gather a specific name, phone number, email and physical address for each donor. Record the item they gave, monetary value and whether it is in the mail or will be picked up.

What should you do first?
Draft a solicitation letter with the 501(c)3’s information and tax ID number, specific event details and an “ask,” or description of what you are looking for in a donation. If your organization has chosen to put together mystery boxes, let the business know that their gift card will go into a small box and be chosen at random. If your live auction will feature 5 big package prizes, ask for high resolution photos related to the items to create posters, bid sheets, etc. Include a specific person’s contact with the solicitation letter. The quick and easy way: staple your business card to the sheet! Ask the Do Good Events team for a sample letter!

How will you follow up?
Send a physical thank you note or letter to donors within 5 days of the event. Include the item and value of their donation and highlights of the event, including total funds raised. If possible, provide them a “save the date” for upcoming year, and encourage them to consider donating annually!

Best of luck in your donation gathering journey and remember, Do Good Events is here to help! We can put together nearly every aspect of your fundraiser, but it is your relationships and connections that will enhance giving at your event!

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