Event Donations: 6 Tips to Help Nonprofits Raise More Funds

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All nonprofit professionals are no stranger to the time and money it takes to run a successful event. In fact, many nonprofits understand that hosting an event isn't something they can run all on their own.

Organizations need volunteers, monetary donations, and supplies to help make their event a reality. 

But where can organizations find the support they need?

Look no further than for-profit businesses and major donors. Whether you're reaching out to fortune 500 corporations, local mom-and-pop shops, or major supporters, many are willing (and eager!) support your mission. 

That's why we've created a list of expert tips to help you raise money for your event.

Organizations can seek assistance from companies and major donors by:

  1. Being selective about who you reach out to.

  2. Writing a professional event donation request letter.

  3. Asking for event donations as corporate sponsorships.

  4. Partnering with local retailers.

  5. Requesting in-kind event donations.

  6. Encouraging supporters to give event donations using nontraditional methods.

We'll discuss how you can raise money to help fund your event. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Be Selective About Who You Reach Out to for Event Donations

As tempting as it is to request donations from every corporation that has a philanthropic program, it can actually be more effective to reach out to a select few. 

Why?

Think about it this way: every corporation has a corporate social responsibility program with different guidelines on the types of grants they give as well as the types of nonprofits they work with. 

These guidelines aren't arbitrary as companies are looking to support nonprofits that align with their core values.

Plus, corporations receive hundreds of requests from nonprofits every year, and unfortunately, they can't support every single one. 

Therefore, it's important to research various programs to help narrow down the corporations you reach out to. 

Focus your search on finding businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • Supported you or similar organizations in the past.

  • Is located locally or has offices in the areas you serve.

  • Has as a similar mission and/or values.

Carefully read over all the guidelines before submitting a request. If you feel like your nonprofit is a good fit, you'll have a much better chance of receiving a grant.

For more information on asking for donations, DipJar has an article on three ways you can get donations for charity events

The bottom line: Companies are looking to support organizations and projects that fit with their values, so be selective about which corporations you decide to ask for donations. 

2. Write a Professional Event Donation Request Letter

Donation request letters, the classic way to reach out to companies, should be your first approach when asking for donations. 

Letters are such effective tools because you have plenty of space to express your need and explain why your cause is important. 

Look at how this fundraising letter template from Qgiv asks for donations from a corporation:

It's important that your donation request letter show corporations the impact that your nonprofit has made as well as the success of past events. 

While not a requirement, it's still a good idea to let corporations know how they can benefit from the partnership. Perhaps you'll showcase them during your event as one of your supporters or post a shout out on social media. 

Either way, displaying your gratitude can show that you genuinely care about their support and strengthen your relationship with businesses for future assistence. 

Additionally, be conscious of your readers' time. You should cover all the points we mentioned above, however, using concise and compelling language will keep them interested in your message. 

The bottom line: There are a plethora of corporations that donate to nonprofit orgnaizations—all you have to do is ask. That's why creating a thoughtful, compelling donation request letter is so important. 

3. Ask for Event Donations as Corporate Sponsorships 

Similar to donation requests, a sponsorship is when a nonprofit asks for support and provides the company with promotional benefits.

These mutually beneficial agreements mean that the organization will get the funding it needs and the business will be able to market their products and services to your event attendees. 

Sponsors are commonly used to help organizations raise funds for events like walkathons and marathons, but you can request sponsors for a variety of different fundraising ideas. 

For instance, if you're hosting a fundraising gala, you can ask corporations to sponsor tables. You'll get the money you need to fund your event and the company can brand the table with their logo and other promotional materials. 

Before you start asking for sponsors, you'll need to create a document that illustrates your different donation levels like the one shown below.

Furthermore, your sponsorship letter should include: 

  • Information about your event and any past successful years.

  • A detailed explanation of how the funds will be used.

  • Contact information in case potential sponsors have questions.

Sponsorships can bring in a large percentage of the funds you need for the event because they offer so many opportunities and incentives for corporations (they'll have no choice but to say "yes!").

The bottom line: With sponsorships, your organization can fund an event with the help of interested corporations. Make sure to come up with giving levels with perks that will be valuable to your partners. 

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4. Partner With Local Retailers to Obtain Event Donations

If you're familiar with the term cause marketing, then you know how effective these campaigns can be for nonprofits. Essentially, cause marketing is when nonprofit and for-profit businesses (usually restaurants and retailers) work together. 

One of the most widely known types of cause marketing campaigns is the checkout charity. You've probably been asked to contribute to checkout when the cashier asked you if you'd like to support X nonprofit.

Checkout charities often get a bad reputation for pressuring patrons into contributing, but that's far from the truth. In fact, with the right strategy, these campaigns can raise money and new supporters. 

Just look at this example from The Salvation Army:

They placed donation kiosks in retail stores in the Denver area, and as a result, they were able to raise $3,700 in one year at a thrift store with no previous cause marketing experience. 

Part of their success can be attributed to the fact that The Salvation Army used giving kiosks over their traditional red kettle buckets. 

With the bucket, The Salvation Arm was only able to collect cash donations, limiting the number of patrons that could contribute. 

By using donation kiosks, they opened the opportunity to donate to anyone with a credit card. Plus, kiosks are easy for retailers to implement; all they have to do is power the device.

Additionally, the kiosk made the donation process quick and simple, which meant that customers didn't have to hold up the line to contribute. 

As you can see, hosting a checkout charity is a great way to raise money and generate excitement for an event.

If you're interested in learning more ways to improve your charity checkout, read DipJar's excellent article

The bottom line: Reach out to local businesses to conduct a checkout charity that works for your nonprofit.

5. Request In-Kind Event Donations

Your organization doesn't have to just request monetary donations. Another option is to request in-kind donations. Generally, organizations can request in-kind donations from corporations or major donors in the form of items or services.

Depending on your event, you can ask for: 

  • Sound equipment

  • Tables and chairs

  • Prizes for charity auctions and raffles

  • And so much more

It's important to do your research to determine which companies have in-kind donation programs or are most likely to give in-kind donations. Some corporations will have applications while others will just ask you to send requests via email or direct mail. 

When writing your application or request letter, you'll need to request specific items from each corporation that you ask. 

In most cases, the products and services are related to the business giving them.

For instance, Outerwall provides promo codes for free Redbox rentals—a great option if you need prizes for a raffle. Alternatively, companies, like Cisco and Sony may provide technology as in-kind contributions. 

If you don't need items, you can always request services or the expertise of corporations. Volunteers with skills in marketing can help you promote your campaign as well as generate excitement for your event. 

The bottom line: Organizations don't just have to ask for monetary donations; they can also request services and items to support their event. 

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6.  Encourage Supporters to Give Event Donations Using Nontraditional Methods

Aside from sending out donation requests to corporations, organizations should also reach out to major donors.

When organizations bring major donors into the mix, they can not only receive monetary donations but also in-kind contributions and the support of a leading figure in the community. 

The first step to gaining support from major donors is conducting prospect research and wealth screening to determine which supporters have the capacity and willingness to give major donations. 

Additionally, you should use your board members and their connections to connect to major donors and ask for donations.

Here are two out-of-the-box ways you can propose major donors to support your cause:

  • Challenge matches. Ask your major donors to participate in a challenge match. This fundraiser can go two different ways: the major donor (or corporation) will match all donations made on a specific day or the donor will match the donations you raised after reaching a certain amount (like $5,000).

  • Place a donation kiosk in your office. Having a donation kiosk in your office is a great way to collect smaller donations when you meet with supporters in person. Even if they decline to contribute a major gift they might feel compelled to make a smaller donation using your kiosk. As every contribution counts, these small gifts can add up to help reach your goal.

Ultimately, there are even more ways you can encourage major donors to support your event. The trick is to come up with ideas that work best to meet your needs, whether that's through monetary donations or in-kind contributions. 

The bottom line: While corporations can offer support to fund your event, don't forget to ask your major donors for support as well. Reach out and encourage them to support your event using unique ideas.  

Start incorporating these six tips into your fundraising strategy, and you'll be closer than ever to reaching your event fundraising goal.

If you want to learn more ways you can collect event donatons, check out these awesome additional resources:  

  1. Ways to Raise More with Giving Kiosks: This article may have convinced you to consider donation kiosks. If so, you're in luck! Keep reading to get even more tips on how to maximize funds using this handy device.

  2. Donation Jar Ideas: Collecting donations at events, during checkout charities, and other in-person events is a great way to raise money. Learn about the different ways you can collect donations.

  3. Donation Kiosk Features: Interested in using donation kiosks to fundraise? Check out this list of must-have features to help you find the perfect device for your nonprofit.

 

If you have more questions about nonprofit strategy you can always reach out to the DipJar fundraising experts for help. It's what we love to do!