event planning

Why Both Charities & Companies Can Benefit From Product Donations

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After months of planning for an upcoming charity event, now comes the time where you have to reach out to multiple businesses and ask for product donations or auction items for the event.  As a resourceful problem solver, avoid becoming timid or hesitant when you make the request, feeling like you’re asking the business for a handout. Instead, it’s important to realize that a product donation actually does benefit the business!

Having an item showcased at an event is an excellent marketing opportunity for businesses, allowing both you and the company to share in a win-win situation.  Understanding that both the nonprofit and the business can win is the key to receiving a successful amount of product donations. Below are some additional tips that can help to prepare as you approach a business asking for product donations or auction items.  

 

Do Research Upfront

Try to first learn what your attendees would prefer to purchase and then find businesses offering those items.  This ensures a better fit for both the attendees and the donor. Also, make sure you understand the demographics (age, gender, location, etc.) of the people attending your event.  Then when speaking to the businesses, you’ll be able to confirm that the event attendees are their ideal target audience.

 

Promote Social Good

With the topic of social good on the horizon, many companies are beginning to realize that supporting a cause can provide the business with successful ROI.  A study by Cone Communications found that 87% of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.  A business is not only receiving the opportunity to support an important cause, but is also being offered the chance to promote their product or company to hundreds of people at the event, with very little effort needed on their part.

 

Prepare a List of Benefits

Before speaking to the business, be prepared by compiling a list of benefits you’re able to provide to the organization.  For example, the company will benefit by having a room full a attendee at the event that are their ideal target market, while being able to benefit from a low cost method of marketing.  They will also benefit by being one product among a limited amount of featured items or businesses at the event. This will help the brand in standing out as a featured product. Don’t forget to offer the opportunity to help promote the brand through social media or provide the company with a social media image or video post-event.  Companies would also appreciate receiving links to their site from the event website. Feel free to ask what the company values that you can deliver. It often doesn’t cost more to deliver an additional benefit to the company and it could compel them to increase their donation.

 

If you can follow these steps when approaching a business regarding product donations, then you should be able to achieve a more successful outcome with a win-win for both your nonprofit and donor businesses.

 

Events With Benefits® Podcast

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Experts in the fundraising arena, Renee Zau, Danny Hooper, and Ian Lauth, have pooled their nonprofit expertise to create an educational podcast called Events with Benefits®. Covering topics related to nonprofits and fundraising, the podcast steps inside the world of event fundraising, seeking to provide insights to event planners, nonprofit staff, and volunteers. The episodes are designed to assist nonprofit organizations in achieving success with fundraising events and raising money.

The Events with Benefits podcast episodes are each 30 to 40 minutes in length, allowing listeners to gain quick access to new ideas for future events. Episodes feature special guests from many backgrounds within the nonprofit industry, who share their personal experiences and lessons learned. Listeners can subscribe, stream or download the podcast episodes, which are available on iTunes and at EventswithBenefits.com

 
 

One of the most popular episodes is #6: Thinking Big with Noah McMahon, Founder and CEO of Anonymous.  McMahon, who specializes in holding multi-million dollar events, explains his 3 building blocks for having a lasting relationship with donors and event sponsors, in order to multiply the impact of funds raised.  He also shares many extremely helpful event planning tips.  

Meet the Podcast Hosts:

  • Renee Zau, CEO & Co-founder of DonationMatch.com, has personally worked on over 50 charity events and mentored over 100 business owners.  She personally has experienced and understands the frustrations and challenges that people face during the in-kind donation process.    

  • Benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper has had an award-winning career through thousands of on-stage performances and the creation of Danny Hooper Productions.  He has also had experience as a recording artist, motivational speaker, comic emcee, and celebrity benefits auctioneer.

  • Ian Lauth, VP of Marketing at Winspire, works for a company that provides unique experiences for charity auctions or fundraisers, allowing users to place exclusive travel packages into their charity auctions.  

Where to Start Your Opening Bids in an Auction

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By Renee Zau, CEO of DonationMatch

Every year, Benefit Auctioneer Sherry Truhlar is asked by a few auction chairs, “Sherry, let’s review the opening bids on these live auction items.  Where shall we start them?”

In this video and the post that follows it, she addresses why you shouldn’t care about opening bids. The science behind it is just as important for increasing your results from your silent auctions, too.

[Thanks for being so generous about sharing your insider knowledge, Sherry!]

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Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar publishes "Benefit Auction Ideas," a bi-monthly e-zine for auction chairs seeking to improve the financial results of their charity auctions. Get your own copy - and a complementary procurement gift - at www.RedAppleAuctions.com.

10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Donation Drive

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Guest post by Nicole George, CEO & Founder of The Parent Quest

Our last donation drive took us almost three months until completion. We all felt so much more pressure this time because we were going to be on LIVE TV…yikes! When rallying the troops to find donations we weren’t allowed to tell the companies we were going to be on TV, which is usually a huge draw for companies to donate. So we had to get creative. We told them it would be at a surprise location no one would expect. What surprised me the most was how many companies are willing to give, just by our following their donation request process. Some took longer than others, but all in all most companies we asked gave.

A donation drive can be very daunting. The process takes months of coordinating, organizing, and “begging” for donations. This list should help you spend less time and energy on your donation drive, yet yield higher returns. The stress a donation drive potentially can have on an organization and your staff is intimidating, but with these tips you can focus on your goal.

My Tips and Tricks to a Successful Donation Drive

  1. Never be afraid to ask for a donation. The worst they could say is no. Most companies love to donate, especially if you are a nonprofit.

  2. Be quick to reply with thanks and gratitude if a company or person donates. Always follow through. You never know when you might need them to donate again in the future. Never burn a bridge.

  3. Keep a donor registry. You don’t want to keep asking the same donors to donate to your cause every time you have a new event. Try to mix it up and tap into different donor pools. This will keep your donors happy.

  4. Tell your story. The more a donor can connect with your cause the more likely they are to donate and donate generous amounts. Adding a video is always best, but adding at least pictures with a description is a must whenever marketing your event.

  5. Don’t send updates too frequently. People are easily annoyed by multiple updates, especially on Facebook. Limit postings to once per day or every other day. (Don’t be discouraged if you lose Facebook likes during these times. It is normal.)

  6. Don’t have multiple events at the same time. Focus all of your efforts and marketing for donations to one event.  This will make sure your donors aren’t confused as to which event they donated to.

  7. Use different avenues to market your event. Social media is a big money maker now, but Facebook and Twitter aren’t your only opportunities to get your story out there. Call your local radio stations or even post your event on their Facebook page. They usually don’t mind and welcome hearing about community events. Call your local news stations as well, they may want to cover your story live. Reach out to your community as much as you can.

  8. Don’t be afraid to use a crowdfunding website such as GoFundMe, GoGetFundingIndiegogo, or Kickstarter. There are upsides and downsides to each so do your research. They all take a percentage of your donations, but all have different rules on deadlines and meeting your goal. Do your research and do it well. You don’t want to learn the rules after the fact.

  9. Offer incentives. Some people won’t donate unless they get something out of it. It is a shame, but there are people who just can’t give because it makes them feel good. Offer a small token of your appreciation, a gift bag, or even a raffle with all monetary donors who give at least a certain amount. People love games and winning.

  10. Don’t be afraid to pay a little money to get help. Websites like DonationMatch.com that help you find donations are worth more than you could ever imagine. Their connections and consulting expertise can bring far more donations and happiness to your event than you could ever tap into yourself.

Hopefully these tips will help you be successful in your fundraising endeavors. Keep your eye on the prize and shoot for the stars!

 

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Nicole George is the CEO/Founder of The Parent Quest, a nonprofit online parent-to-parent mentoring program which runs 100% off donations and fundraising.

Infographic - Where Are We Now?

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If you saw our original infographic on Pinterest, you'll notice it was released in 2012, when DonationMatch was just over a year old. Apparently the statistics and data are still appealing, as it continues to be our most popular pin, but the numbers are frankly a bit outdated. So, it's with great pleasure that we share updated results. Congratulations to the schools, charities, businesses, and brands who made these win-win connections!  

 
DonationMatch Impact Infographic 2014

Many thanks to Bella Vidaña for contributing to this infographic's creation.

Introducing Free Event Help in Bite-Size Pieces

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By Renee Zau, Co-founder & CEO, DonationMatch

Recently a new benefit was offered to nonprofits who opt for our DonationMatch Pro Event Page upgrade--a one-on-one coaching session with an expert fundraising event planner. We introduced this largely to assist volunteers who were newer to the world of fundraising events, often without help from former committees.

Over the years, however, I've gathered a trove of clever hacks and fixes from which I think most event committees could benefit. These are now being shared as our new series of "Event Organizer Pro Tips." Follow DonationMatch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to receive them. (Thanks to Nailah of social communications agency Donna + Nailah for inspiring this idea!)

Do you have your own list of "must do's"? I'd love to hear what they are in the comments below!

 

Event Organizer Pro Tip
Event Organizer Pro Tip

Planning Tools Loved by Organized Auction Chairs

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Guest blog post by Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions

I thought about writing on this topic a few months ago and decided, “Nope. I need to save this topic until January.”

The reason being is that January is the month that many stores -- Home Depot, Walmart, Kmart, Target, Staples, The Container Store (the annual Elfa® sale) -- advertise one particular theme.

Getting organized!

This is THE month that many stores promote organization.

Volunteer Auction Chairs need to be organized. They are often working with many volunteers to plan the fundraising auction. Keeping track of the big picture -- AND the details -- is part of the job.

Here are four organizational tools I’ve seen other Auction Chairs have success using:

  • Google Calendar and Google Docs: This combination is perhaps the most popular online method for staying organized and sharing information. The tools are free and enable your entire committee to keep up-to-date.
  • Standard paper calendar: Whether it’s an “At a Glance” or some other brand, paper calendars are still popular among auction chairs. It allows for the entire month’s activities to be seen on one page, which many people like.
  • Electronic calendars: With so many people using their phone to keep up-to-date, it’s no surprise that tech-savvy Chairs opt to use their mobile phone as their master auction calendar.
  • Subject-related notecards (see photo): Last month I had a meeting with two Auction Chairs. One had brought notecards labeled with auction topics, such as Setup/Decoration, A/V, Silent Auction, Food & Beverage and so forth. As we talked through different subjects, she’d list “to do’s” on each card related to that topic. She could then follow up later on those tasks, or hand it off to the appropriate volunteer managing that activity. Clever!

Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar publishes "Benefit Auction Ideas," a bi-monthly e-zine for auction chairs seeking to improve the financial results of their charity auctions. Get your own copy - and a F'REE gift! - at www.RedAppleAuctions.com.

What other tools have you successfully used to keep yourself organized in the planning process?  We'd love to know in the comments below!

Nonprofit Spotlight - Scleroderma Foundation, Greater San Diego Chapter

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Scleroderma Foundation

By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador at DonationMatch

This week we are excited to spotlight the Scleroderma Foundation, Greater San Diego Chapter!

Scleroderma is a group of rare, progressive diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues — the fibers that provide the framework and support for your body. The purpose of the Foundation's San Diego Chapter is to "support the National Foundation's mission of Support, Education and Research." They hold a variety of events, from support and education meetings to walks and social events.

Here's a peek at their planning process from Kelly Davidson, Executive Director, and Cyndy Martin, Treasurer and Walk Co-Chair:

What kinds of events does your organization hold each year? 

Cyndy: Walk-a-thon fundraiser, free Patient Education Day, Ice Cream Social, Holiday Party with raffle, monthly support group meetings, bi-monthly chapter meetings. This year we plan to add a Padres Day fundraiser and a golf tournament.

What are your biggest fundraising event planning challenges?

Cyndy: Publicity! Getting more people to attend.

What are your most highly attended events?

Kelly: The Walk is by far the most highly attended event. The 2nd most highly attended is an annual patient education day where we typically schedule 3 to 4 expert physicians who speak specifically about scleroderma related symptoms and treatments.

How do you make your Walk-a-thon unique?

Kelly: We try to make it a Family Fun Day, and not just a 5K Walk. The location is somewhat unique in that it's right by the water on beautiful Shelter Island. We try to have something for everyone -  massage chairs, music, classic car displays, and a kid zone with face painting, bounce house, obstacle course and craft booth. We try to make it educational, so we invite other autoimmune disease organizations. And, we entice folks to stay around for our raffle fundraiser by providing a food truck with healthy options.

Which events raise the most money, and which help you raise awareness the best?

Kelly: The Walk definitely helps raise the most money and also gives us the most awareness. Our core members reach out to their extended friends and family to request donations and attendance at the walk. In addition, posts about the walk get more attention than any others on Facebook. It generates excitement and is something folks like to share.

What ideas and support has the national organization given you?

Kelly: Our National organization provides our fundraising site which enables everyone to have one common focus for fundraising, yet allows for personal fundraising pages. They set up the basic structure and auto-responders which are then customized by us at the chapter level. They also conduct an Annual Patient Conference each year and hold a leadership day where chapter leaders can share and learn from each other.

Do you have a favorite story of how your organization helped someone?

Cyndy: My favorite story is my own! I was diagnosed with scleroderma in 2010. I quickly experienced the 'Sclero-What?' syndrome of no one, not even many doctors, kn[owing] what it was. It was through the Scleroderma Foundation that I learned all about my disease, treatment options my doctors were not offering me, and met others coping and living well with the disease. In 2012 my disease became very aggressive and life threatening. Again, it was through the Foundation's education day, patient conference, and my new friends that I learned about clinical trials for stem cell transplants for scleroderma. In November 2012 I underwent a stem cell transplant that I believe saved me from becoming terminal. I now enjoy helping others on this path.

What is your favorite dessert?

Cyndy: Lemon Meringue Pie!

Kelly: Chocolate creme brulee!

Thank you both for all the good work you do, and good luck at your Walkathon on June 23rd!

Click here to learn more about the Scleroderma Foundation, Greater San Diego Chapter.

5 Minutes with Geraldine D'Silva, Executive Director of PAWS San Diego

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By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador, DonationMatch

For the past 20 years, PAWS San Diego has provided "essential pet services and support to low-income elderly, chronically ill and disabled individuals."  They currently run two programs - a PetCare/VetCare program which includes, among other things, in-home delivery of pet food, cat litter and flea medicine to their low-income senior, or chronically ill and disabled clients, and their PAWS Pantry Program, formally launched this year, in which PAWS sets up several distribution sites around the county to provide supplemental bags of pet food for families in need.

Here's what DonationMatch learned in 5 minutes with Geraldine D'Silva, Executive Director of PAWS San Diego!

What is the goal of PAWS San Diego?

"PAWS San Diego’s goal is keep pet families together. With our two programs we hope for the day when no more pets are relinquished to shelters due to lack of resources for pet care and pet food in San Diego County. Studies show that unfortunately low income is one of the main reasons for pet relinquishment."

You had different positions within the organization before you became Executive Director.  Do you think that experience has helped you become a more effective ED?

"I am so thankful that I started off with PAWS as Operations Manager two years ago. PAWS had just started moving from being a volunteer run organization to being staff driven. With the transition we were in need of a 'Manager,' especially when donors and others phoned to ask for one. When I was promoted to Operations Director after 6 months I had already learned so much, and after completing a Certificate course in Non Profit Management I was ready to take on bigger responsibilities. Now as the ED, I clearly feel the pulse of the organization and I feel privileged to work alongside our volunteers, amazing staff and an extremely supportive, talented and professional Board of Directors. Together we are effective."

Do you have a favorite story of how PAWS has helped someone?

"I have many, many wonderful stories to tell! The most recent one is a beautiful testimonial we received when we thanked a donor. They informed us that they were in fact a PAWS Pantry client a year ago. The family had suddenly become homeless and was living in their car with their dogs and cat. 'PAWS saved their lives' by giving them an emergency supply of pet food so they could keep their pets.

One of our PetCare & VetCare clients, Ray, takes almost 3 hours each morning just to get out of bed. Ray is a senior, chronically ill and disabled. He has been home-

bound for years and his only motivation to get up is his beloved dog and constant companion Ziggy. He talks to Ziggy all day and Ziggy is always right by his side. I personally deliver food to Ray and Ziggy and I always enjoy seeing the unique bond that they share. They clearly love and need each other."

What types of events do you hold?

"Fiesta is the major, annual event for PAWS San Diego. We also have an annual Volunteer Appreciation event and hope to hold a Donor Appreciation event regularly in the future. Apart from that, we participate in a few outreach events throughout the year, particularly PRIDE and PAWS in the Park and also the AIDS Walk where we run the water station."

What are your biggest fundraising event planning challenges?

"Our biggest challenge without a doubt is the need for an event planner. We are a team of four part-time staff with regular day-to-day responsibilities. Fiesta is our one major event each year, and in addition to it being time-consuming to plan, we are also heavily dependent on volunteers to make this event happen. Having the right event chair each year is of prime importance and fortunately this year we have a wonderful and very organized Chair. Coordinating and keeping volunteers committed through the whole process is a challenge in itself, apart from needing to market the event on a low budget."

Which events raise the most money, and which help you raise awareness the best?

"Fiesta forms approximately 15-17% of our budget. The outreach events help raise some brand awareness. We have small fundraisers throughout the year, hosted by restaurants, bars and stores that donate some of the proceeds to PAWS."

Where would you like to see PAWS in 5 years?

"In 5 years, I would like to see PAWS working more seamlessly with other human and animal welfare organizations and being more self-sustaining on a higher budget. I would definitely like to increase and diversify our funding base while growing and stabilizing our infrastructure and the number of people we serve."

If you were going to eat a brownie, would you choose a middle piece or a corner piece?

"If I were going to eat a brownie, I would choose the chewy center. But I would love a nibble of the crisp corner too, if I had that choice."

Thank you Geraldine and PAWS for all you do! Click here for more information on PAWS San Diego and their 20th Anniversary Fiesta Celebration on June 8th!