Requests for donations seem to come in waves. Lately, it's been a tsunami of all sorts of nonprofits, businesses, schools and well... just about anyone asking for a donation of some kind to their cause. As an owner of a couple of small businesses, and the manager of several other's social content, I consider many requests per week - as many as several a day.
With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to provide a perspective as to what it's like to be on the receiving end of that request . So without adieu:
"Larry's Random List of Possibly Helpful Fundraising Tips"
It's all about me. Yes...I know...you're passionately anxious to present your cause, and recruit me to your brand as an avid fan. And honestly...I may think it's worthy - but. I want to understand you know who you're connecting with, and have done a bit of research as to my brand, culture, and position in the marketplace. Far too often, I receive donation requests on a blind-copy list - and it's generic to the group, and not engaging to me. Sadly, I may never open them because of that initially impersonal approach. Take a moment to acknowledge me and my time taken to consider your request. Try to establish a little rapport before "landing the punch". Why are you asking me specifically?
Be prepared. In today's digitally quick world, you've got about 30 seconds to get my attention - and keep it. But not for long. Make sure your presentations are easy to read and understand, with options for donation levels (if any) clearly explained. There's nothing worse than spending a half hour in discussion with a donation request, only to learn it's entirely up to my discretion. If you have printed materials, be sure to have a set to leave behind for my review. I'm never excited to open an attachment from someone I don't know - so just sending them to me digitally isn't always the best approach.
Tell Me Why. Besides good karma, of course. (See #1 above) Be clear about the benefits of partnering with you. Will I get exposure at your event and in your materials? Will someone mention my name at the event? In short, besides the goodness of my heart, why should I donate to your specific cause as opposed to others? How will my brand benefit by associating with yours? And as importantly... is my brand aligned with yours? As a cocktail bar owner, I hesitate to give to your child's school or athletic team. I understand it's for their parents, but I'd never want to seem as though we're enticing underage children to partake in our product or service. I'm sure there are other similar examples of brand misalignment.
Follow-up! It's not my responsibility to track you down after I've agreed to donate to your cause. That's your job - and if you don't do it, you may not get what you need in time for my donation. The sooner you confirm the donation in writing, and follow-up to get any related materials (certificates, gift cards, swag, etc.) - the better. And while you're at it...follow-up after the event with some photos of what transpired so I can share them with my circle of friends - thus helping spread your good message!
Let me be clear - I want to provide a donation to you - really...I do. But I also want to make sure it's going to a cause that my brand can align with completely, and hopefully expand my audience to potentially new clients and customers. Quid Pro Quo? Yes...to a degree. My donation is worth much more than the dollar value - and even that can be substantial. As a business owner, and your charitable partner - I want a win/win for both our teams.
But you have to help me help you...and those four things - if done well - will make it much more fun and efficient for us both.
What am I missing in this list? Let me know in the comments below, and if I agree, I'll add them!