Utilizing Local Businesses in Your Fundraising Efforts

by Joe Garecht

Guest Post by School Fundraisers

Connecting with your community is a vital role in any fundraising effort. There is no greater resource within your community than the local businesses. Most companies, both big and small, have an interest in supporting the local schools and non-profit organizations in the community. They want to be connected and show support whenever they can. But—make no mistake—in most cases, your group is not the only one interested in their support. There are dozens of school fundraisers, sports fundraisers, scout fundraisers, etc. in most communities, and it is unrealistic for a local business to support them all. They have to choose what groups will get their support and at what level. Here are some tips that will help guide you in soliciting local businesses to support your fundraiser:

Do your due diligence.

Before approaching a business, you must have a game plan. Gather a list of businesses that you think would be ideal partners. Have they supported your group or other groups in your community in the past? What businesses are new to the community and are interested in establishing new roots? What companies are struggling financially and are not in a position to support another fundraiser? Your local chamber of commerce / business association may be able to answer these questions for you and give you some guidance.

Be patient and take your time building a relationship.

Don’t expect to call up a business that will just give money. This does happen, but it is not that easy in most cases. They want to understand your group and learn about your group’s fundraising mission statement. Get them on your mailing list. Send them newsletters, Facebook updates, and photos of successful events. Show them how their support will benefit your group. Even if they choose not to support your group immediately, stay in touch and build the relationship. There will be other opportunities down the road.

Know your group’s elevator pitch.

If you are going to approach a local business, make sure you can clearly articulate your group’s plans, goals, and anticipate questions. Businesses get asked for support all the time. Why should they support your group? Be able to sell them on your group’s vision and how you will be promoting the fundraiser. Be able to explain the opportunities available to support your group – advertising & sponsorships, donation of goods or services, cash donations, etc.

Be nice.

This is obvious, but you would be surprised how many people fail to adhere to this simple maxim. Business owners are incredibly busy and their time is one of their most important assets. Be respectful of their time. Write introduction and thank you letters. Don’t bother them with unnecessary calls or emails. Keep them posted on your group’s fundraising activity, but don’t overwhelm them with updates.

Encourage your group and your group’s supporters to frequent the supporting businesses.

The greatest gesture your group can show to your local business supporters is to be customers and to encourage others to frequent the local establishment who supported your group. Businesses are incredibly thankful for your group’s support, and will be inclined to support your group again for future fundraisers.

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Marjorie Fine March 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for all your great advice. Could you do an article on building your fundraisng staff including the essentials and when to know it is time to add another person? Is it by additional amount being raised? Size of organization? by types of jobs? Thanks again.

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