The Donor Abides: Bowl a Strike with In-Person Requests

Psycadelic blowing with the title, "The Donor Abides"

I am heading a fundraiser that is in about 3 months. I am thinking of starting out by going to local store managers to see what possible connections I can make. Do you have any tips on things I should have with me? Thanks in advance!

Andrea B., Omaha, NE

First of all, deciding to go in person to ask for donations is a great step for making that personal connection that is priority number one for convincing a donor that giving to your organization is a benefit to the community and themselves, as well as that the donor is integral in helping your organization accomplish its mission. 

 Before putting boots to the ground, prepare yourself with all the information you might need to present. In particular, items that you should have with you in order to help expedite the process and inform the donor, include but are not limited to: 

  1. Copy of your 501(c)(3)/EIN
  2. Event flyer and/or business card
  3. Request letter on your organization’s letterhead

Being tangible, this information is especially important in the case of large businesses having customer service as the entry point to the process. Another scenario is, management at the various businesses you will be going to might be busy when you stop in. Don’t get your hopes up! Leave your contact information and anything else that can help them decide if your organization is one that they would like to be associated with. If you don’t hear back within a reasonable amount of time, follow up with an inquiry. 

When you are spreading your donation request radius, look into any business that would fit into your mission and/or event. Not all donors advertise that they donate! Sometimes, even if a donor has a national donation program through their headquarters, the local stores will typically have a budget for local initiatives. 

In the event that donations will be used directly towards the mission of your organization, figure out the bare minimum you need and what the most is that your organization can handle. Start out by coming up with what you need but don’t pigeonhole yourself.  

Be aware of what message a donor would possibly send by supporting your organization. Don’t look for donations from donors that would be inappropriate for your organization, event, or the donor themselves. As an example, if the event taking place will involve families, in most cases it is not appropriate for alcohol donations. If there is a question on this, it would be best to move on to a donor that would definitely fit.  

It can feel awkward if you are doing this for the first time, but you can do it! With practice and confidence, you will be amazed at how much direct communication can increase donations and create future beneficial relationships. Measured tenacity will go a long way with tracking down the people who can help and keep your organization in back of their mind. Good luck!  

For general information, our blog post on donation request tips is a great place to start.

P.S. While these questions have been coming from Ultimate Donations users who have emailed us, leave any questions that you have as comments on our forum if you would like to learn more.

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Ultimate Donations streamlines the often convoluted task of planning fundraisers and charity events by guiding you to discover donors more rapidly and effectively. If you have requested donations previously, you might be all to familiar with how tiring and time-consuming examining potential donors can be. Ultimate Donations has done a significant part of the research into who is most likely to donate to your organization. If you want a particular donation, we have the data on what is available.