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Asking businesses for donations can be a great way to collect items for a charity or nonprofit organization.  YOU want to help others, but it’s overwhelming.  Do they need Food Items? Clothing? Hygiene Products?  School Supplies?   I’ve volunteered with many different organizations and was able to direct thousands of items I received for FREE to people who desperately needed them.  Today I’m going to teach YOU how to get donations from businesses!

Who Can Ask for Donations?

Google, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Johnson & Johnson are just some of the top companies that donate millions every year.  They will not work with individuals as generally, large corporations will only work directly with a nonprofit’s Donor Ministries Manager director.

YOU can still make a huge difference, however, to your favorite charity by asking for specific needed items.  Take a chance, be creative, and expect lots of “no” answers – BUT there will be surprising “yes” responses!

Do I Need A Tax ID?

A tax ID (also known as an Employer Identification Number or EIN) is often used to receive donations to be used for a non-profit organization. This number is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is used to identify your organization for tax purposes.  Not every business will require one, some do.  Many times I PERSONALLY did not need one.  Check with your group, your church, and your school and see if you can use their tax ID.  Don’t give up!

How to Get Donations from Businesses

Here is a Step by Step Guide:

  1. What Are The Needs

  2. Identify Potential Donors

  3. Prepare Your Request

  4. Contact Businesses

  5. Follow Up

  6. Pick up Donation

  7. Acknowledge and Thank Them

Now let’s take each step one at a time.  Don’t let this overwhelm you!  YOU can do this!  

What Are The Needs:

A box of donations from businesses stuffed with school suppliesWhat does your nonprofit or group actually needTake your time.  Because you will be more successful when asking for DONATIONS if you can narrow your focus rather than say “EVERYTHING”.

Are you helping the homeless and need socks?  Maybe a Women’s Shelter needs fresh produce?  How about a PTA hosting a Basket Raffle that needs gift items?  Does a church packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes need soap or toothbrushes?  A sewing group making dresses for children in Appalachia?  A low-income school project needs school supplies and snacks. Maybe a Little League Team that needs sponsorship.  You might even need something as simple as cardboard boxes.

HERE ARE ALL MY FAVORITE ITEMS TO PURCHASE TO DONATE TO VARIOUS CHARITIES IN ONE PLACE!

Before you ask, think about EXACTLY what you need and why it matters.  

Do you also fundraise for cash? Check out my 150 Fundraising Ideas! There are suggestions for individuals, small groups, and large organizations.

Identify Potential Donors:

  • Make a list of businesses you will contact.
  • Start with local companies and stores.  Think about places that you love to shop or visit. Small local businesses will help quicker than larger ones – it gives them free advertising and widens their presence in your community.
  • Some National Chains MIGHT donate something.  They won’t be able to give you a large cash amount (corporate giving restrictions) BUT often individual store managers have the ability to give small gift cards.  I’ve been able to get $25 cards from Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Supermarkets, etc.  Every manager and area will be different.  I’ve been able to get items from Chain Banks, Hotels, Restaurants, etc.
  • Think Outside the Box.  Not just stores can donate, but businesses as well.  Printers might have pads, paper, and even donate printing of posters for your cause.  They might have misprints but perfectly useful water bottles or pens if you don’t might the logos.   A restaurant might be able to give boxes of towels to your Dog Shelter.  Dentists might donate toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Bibles.com Some Unusual Items Donated:
  • We received a truckload of thread from a bulletproof clothing manufacturer going out of business that we’ve been able to use for sewing dresses and dolls to donate. 
  • We got rubber bands from a vegetable marketer that we used to wrap handmade jump ropes.
  • Several pallets of school supplies were donated from a printer simply because a certain campaign ended and they had too much inventory clogging their warehouse.
  • From several corporate retailers, we were able to receive huge discounts on items (not quite donated but 90% off) IF we would take all they had.

Remember to be creative and think outside the box when it comes to finding businesses to approach for donations. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people that you might not expect to support your cause. You never know who might be willing to help! Dream.  It’s ok!  What’s the worst they can say?  No?

Prepare Your Request:

You now know what YOU want – but HOW will you explain it?  Before approaching businesses, practice a short and clear explanation of why your “group” needs donations and how they will be used. Be very specific.  They will assume you want something they CAN’T give you.  When you tell them your specific need, they will be surprised and more willing to help.  You also tell them the benefit of donation like more exposure in the community.

Contact Businesses for Donations:

– Email, Phone, Social Media, In-Person Contact –

A bright red ask button to remind you to ask for donations from businessesEMAIL:  Check each business website for their contact information.  An email is quick because once you write your proposal you can copy/paste it to dozens of companies. Make a new email with your name or group in the name – much better than sending it from MOM2345, etc!  Send a friendly message to introduce yourself and your cause. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. In my experience, this method is a great start but I’ve received very few responses.   It’s good practice.

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Contact through private messaging on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  You can use the same email message.  They may or may not respond.  Not every small business monitors their socials very well.

SAMPLE REQUEST:

Dear [Business/Donor Name],
I am reaching out to you today on behalf of [Organization/Personal Cause].  It helps [list the ways this group helps others]. Our local group here in [list local town or county] frequents your business and would love your support.
We are currently in need of [list the specific items], which will enable us to [describe how the items will be used to benefit the cause].
I understand that you likely receive many requests for donations, but I hope that you will consider aiding us in this way. Even a small donation of [list the specific items] can make a big difference in the lives of those we serve.
Thank you for considering our request. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our work, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [Your Contact Information].  Here is our Tax ID Number [….]
Sincerely,
[Your Name]

PHONE CALLS: Call and ask for the manager.  They are the ones that will be able to actually help you.  If they are not available, get the name and time they will be in.  Make sure to call back.  Visit them if you haven’t been able to get through.

IN-PERSON CONTACT:  While extremely time-consuming, I have found it by far to be absolutely the most effective and successful.

  • Ask for the manager by name. (You’ve already called ahead of time)
  • Be clear about what you need and why.
  • Dress and act professionally.  Wear some sort of official nametag, tee shirt, hat, etc. that has the name of the organization you are helping.
  • Be very friendly and cheerful.
  • If the manager can’t see you, leave your brochure, letter, and contact information.
HERE ARE ALL MY FAVORITE ITEMS TO PURCHASE TO DONATE TO VARIOUS CHARITIES IN ONE PLACE!

 

Follow Up:

If you don’t hear back, send a friendly reminder or call.  Be patient and keep a positive attitude. If a business has expressed an interest in donating, be sure to follow up with them to provide additional information or answer any questions.  I’ve often found that managers want to help but simply forget.  Or they have the items ready for pickup, but neglected to contact me.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Some may not be able to donate now, but may be willing to contribute in the future. I had asked a hotel chain for cases of soap.  Year after year they declined.  The manager moved on, and the new manager was thrilled to be able to help.  Not only did they donate 3 times what I needed but I was able to meet their team to share about the charity.  They were so excited, the hotel held a donation event with their staff, then had it written in their statewide newsletter further advertising our nonprofit.  It was an investment of time that paid off.

Pick Up Donations:

It is important to pick up your items quickly.  If you’ve promised a time, make sure to be there.  I’ve received many carloads of items because another charity failed to arrive and pick them up – these stores wanted their shelves cleared and couldn’t wait.   Being prompt, dependable, and friendly goes a long way to fostering a good relationship and more donations in the future.

Acknowledge and Thank Them:

When you get a donation, be sure to say thank you! Tell them how much you appreciate their support, and let them know how it helped your cause.  Whether or not a business decides to donate, it’s important to express gratitude for their time and consideration. This can help build relationships with businesses in the community, which may lead to future donations or support.

Remember to keep it fun and positive! Even though asking for donations can be intimidating, it can also be exciting and rewarding. Therefore, don’t be afraid to be yourself and have fun with it. Good luck! Above all it’s important to approach businesses with a clear plan and a specific ask. By providing a compelling proposal and demonstrating the impact of the charity or organization, an individual can increase the likelihood of receiving donations for their cause.

Do you also fundraise for cash? Check out my 150 Fundraising Ideas! There are suggestions for individuals, small groups, and large organizations.

SAMPLE THANK YOU:

Dear [Donor Name],
On behalf of [Organization Name], I would like to express our sincere gratitude for your generous donation to our cause. Your contribution will help us to [describe how their donation will be used to benefit the cause].
Your support means the world to us and will have a positive impact on the lives of [describe who the donation will benefit]. With your help, we can continue to [describe the organization’s mission and how the donation will help fulfill it].
Once again, thank you for your kindness and generosity. We are honored to have your support in our efforts to [describe the goal of the organization]. Your donation will make a real difference in the lives of those we serve.
Sincerely,
[Your Name] [Organization Name]

Here are some examples of smaller donations I’ve received:

  • Pens, pencils, paper, candy, coloring books, and logo wear from local banks
  • Toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste from local dentists
  • Crayons, coloring pages, and logo wear from restaurants
  • Soap, pens, and pads from hotels
  • Gift Cards from Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Chain Supermarkets, Bed Bath & Beyond
Show how their support will make a real difference.

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Mary

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