How to ask for Donations and Prizes are super common questions to ask when planning a Prize Table for your Fundraiser. You have Grand Prizes to worry about, as well as a full Raffle Table and this requires some strategic planning! Lucky for you, we have a few super valuable pages dedicated to helping you figure this out.
Donations & Prizes FAQs
First let us apologize for the picture. It was just too cute to not post here! We certainly do not recommend you to beg lol. But you are probably wondering how to get Donations, and we have some great tips.
This is a tricky task – it can be hard to ask for free stuff sometimes, but you have to do it! A party is not a party without prizes! It is imperative that you understand how to get Donations for Fundraisers. Do not be afraid to ask people! Think about what kind of donations would best suit your event’s needs. If this party is for a couple in their early 30’s, chances are there will be many couples there in the same age group, so choose age appropriate gifts. A gift card to Laser Tag is probably not going to excite too many people unless they have children nor will it encourage them to pay for a game as a way to win this prize.
So if you are using Prizes when someone wins a game, make sure it will be worth their while to play the game. You can match themes too – so for a Golf Game, you can have the prize be golf or sports related.
How to Start the Donation Process
- Create a list of friends, family, and co-workers who may be able to provide donations for your event – those who may own their own business or hold a management role.
- Write a list of everyone you know that have a small network marketing business (Avon, Arbonne, Scentsy, DoTerra, etc)
- Next make a list of local businesses that you hope can provide you with gift certificates or free stuff, and that you think your guests would like to bet on.
- Make it a team effort and get all of your committee members to help.
Who is Donating?
- We could give you a list, but this list is forever changing. What might have worked for one person, won’t work for the next.
- Companies have a certain amount to give out each year, so if you are coming to them in September, they probably have already met their quota and won’t be able to help you.
- With that said, there are some tried and true companies that seem to never run out of donations:
- Splitsville in Hamilton, Steam Whistle in Toronto, Lazer Mania in Hamilton, Club 54 in Burlington, Ice Dogs in St. Catharines, Ray’s Reptiles in Hamilton, and Hooters in Niagara Falls religiously donate without a fight.
- You can email Steam Whistle and they will mail the tickets to you!
- You can try Molson if you are selling their beer – they usually donate some paraphernalia but not 100% of the time.
- But in the Niagara region especially, we have many Stag & Doe Facebook pages that share these company names. What happens, is that 100 people read it that day, and then they all email that company. The company gets overwhelmed and shuts it down! This is why we say the list is forever changing.
- One of the best ways to get donations is to ask a company where you you have an “in” – so you would ask for it in person at their place of business or by writing a professional letter.
- Any mid-sized to large company may have to clear their donations through their head office with the use of your letter anyhow, so this is probably the best avenue.
- You can also ask some network marketing companies, as they are often eager to sell their brand and get their name out.
- You can attempt to try out some Wineries or smaller businesses that you frequent, such as your massage therapist.
- You are better off talking to businesses, that YOU do business with. Get your committee members to help as well, as they will have special businesses that they do business with and might have a relationship with. That helps!
The Do’s and Don’ts of Asking for Donations
- Go in person wherever possible!
- Asking in person usually gets a better response than using the phone or email.
- It puts people on the spot a little more and they are more likely to say yes, since it is so easy to type “sorry I cannot help you out”.
- SMILE! Look happy and be positive. Make them remember you.
- Always bring a typed letter for them, that has their company name printed on it – make it look like an official request.
- Visit restaurants at a convenient time for them when they are able to get the manager. The best way to do it is WHILE you are eating there. Ask the manager to come to the table and hand them the letter in person. They want you to be happy so may comply on the spot!
- You can always try some free online ads begging for help on some Facebook Stag & Doe pages or through Kijiji, but you won’t get too much of a response that way, since this method is totally overused and annoying for people to read over and over.
- Don’t facebook message everyone in your friends list asking… Nobody will respond! Especially if some of these people you NEVER talk to or maybe haven’t talked to in 10 years.
- They will be offended that you are asking when you haven’t communicated with them in such a long time.
- It will put people off, so only choose people who you have some sort of a relationship with, or maybe who YOU have helped in the past.
- Don’t waste your time going to the mall and talking to the managers of places like LuLu Lemon or the Gap which are mostly corporately owned.
- They won’t do squat for you!
- Those types of companies only deal with super large fundraisers for the United Way as an example and get inundated with tons of donation requests, so they won’t have time for your tiny Stag & Doe. Sorry, but it’s the truth!
- Don’t go restaurant to restaurant in a food court but instead go to stand alone restaurants that have franchisees – such as Boston Pizza or another one that you frequent
- Don’t visit them at busy times when they are more likely to “shoo” you away.
What to do AFTER leaving the letter with them/emailing them?
- Get the person’s name that you left your letter with and thank them for their time.
- Make sure to follow up within 3 days of them receiving the letter, by saying – I am just checking in to see if the request has been reviewed as I am excited to see if you can help!
- Do not leave voicemails, as they often will not be returned.
- Just keep calling till you reach them, or ask when a better time would be to call back.
- Make a list of all places you leave your letter with, who you left it with, the date it was, and if you followed up with them
- Don’t hound them! Just be pleasantly persistent – its our favourite term to use
They said “YES”
- Make sure to show your gratitude!
- Make an announcement on your Facebook Event page about the new prize and get people excited about it
- Make a sign with all the businesses that donated and hang this up at your Fundraiser.
- Include business cards or print their logo on this sign
- Show your appreciation as they don’t have to help you, they chose to help you.
They said “No”
- If they refuse to help you with a free donation, you can always ask for this option instead: Some places will match what you buy – so if you buy a $50 gift card, they will give you a $50 gift card.
- Another alternative is to ask for a discount on a service – so would you be willing to offer 50% off your Massage Services (this is IF they refuse to give you something for free).
- If they say no – still thank them for their time! They don’t have to help you out, and are inundated with people asking the same things, so if they helped everyone, they would not be in business!
- First of all, do not hand write your Donation Letter Request!
- Type it up and print in advance.
- Keep it in your car and when you are in the area, drop it off!
- Give to your committee members too if they live close to the location.
Step by Step Instructions on what your Letter should say:
should be addressed to their company name / person’s name – don’t make a generic one that you hand out to everyone
- ie) To: Manager/Owner of Boston Pizza
include a picture of the person the Fundraiser is for, or a company logo on its letterhead if a Corporate Event
- coloured picture is best!
who and what the Fundraiser is for (if different)
- This letter is to request a donation for myself (first and last name) and my fiancé (first and last name) to use at our Stag & Doe (or insert type of Fundraiser) that we can use to raffle off for our Prize Table
say something unique about your sitaution
- I can appreciate that you get a lot of donation requests, but we hope that you consider our circumstance a bit different. (insert your story in one sentence. Here is an example – My fiancé and I met in high school and we have been dating for the past 12 years. He has been overseas for work and has finally moved back to Ontario so we we have decided that now is the right time to tie the knot and start our new journey together!)
what type of donation you are looking for
- Specifically, we are hoping that your company is either able to donate a $50 gift card, a free service, or a gift that we use to raffle off, however we would be grateful for whatever it is that you are able to donate!
when the event is
- Our event is being held on (insert date with year)
where the event is
- at the (insert hall name with city)
how many you expect to show up (be realistic and don’t inflate the number!)
- We have already invited (insert number of people) and are expecting approximately (insert number of people) to attend our event in person
why you thought of this particular company
- We love your company because we love (insert reason – your prices, your location, your staff, your line of products, etc. But be specific)
your favourite product
- We especially love your (insert item that they sell that you legitimately enjoy. Google their company to get specifics and to spell things right, and don’t sound too general)
how you anticipate people will react to their gift card/prize, etc.
- We know this will be a popular prize to win because (insert your reason such as – there will be a lot of golfers there, there are lots of people with young children in attendance, lots of moms who love wine, etc)
show your appreciation
- We would be so grateful for whatever it is that you can to do help us out
how they can contact you – give several options (text, email, phone)
- Please contact me anytime by text/call (905-555-5555) or by email (email@example.com)
tell them you will follow up if you don’t hear from them
- If I do not hear from you within the next week, I will be following up with you as I am so excited about the prospect of using your product/service for a prize!
put your name down and sign
- Thank you for your time, (insert name & then sign below)
- Staple an actual ticket of the Fundraiser to accompany it – it just shows it is more legitimate.
- Do not make your letter sound vague (I am requesting a donation) but instead be straight to the point and clearly state what you want (I am requesting a gift certificate for $50).
- Do not make it too generic like this one (I am asking for a donation to my stag and doe and appreciate your help). Boring! Make yours stand out because they literally get these weekly if not daily, so make yours stand out from the rest, so they remember you. Make it personal with something they can relate to you about. Talk about how you and your hubby met if it is a romantic story, the kids you have, how much you love shopping there, or a memory of the first time you purchased from them, or a favourite product that you cannot live without. Add a picture of you with your spouse or kids, as it is makes it much more personal.
- Just remember you are in competition with a LOTTTTT of others, so make your letter and story special.
- Do not rely solely on donations!
- You may have to spend some money to make money, so look for the sales.
- Save up your Air Miles, PC Points, or credit card points and purchase prizes
- BBQ’s, TV’s, iPads, concert tickets, sporting event tickets, gift cards, or even gift baskets are great prizes and they are things that you can usually find on sale.
- Never pay full price for prizes… there are deals everywhere.
- Keep your eyes and ears open and ask around for some sales.
- But really do your best to focus on donations so that you are not spending hundreds or event thousands on prizes. Free is better for Fundraisers!
How Many Prizes Should I Get
- Be weary of one thing – sometimes people think the more prizes, the better.
- It always looks impressive when the prize tables are absolutely loaded with loot.
- Consider that it takes time to draw a ticket for a prize, so more prizes mean more time drawing, and guests can become agitated.
- If you have a lot of smaller prizes, consider consolidating them into “Prize Packs” or letting the DJ give some away for spot dances – a great way to get your guests up dancing and enjoying themselves.
- A good problem to have, is that you have TOO many prizes to give away.
- If this is your case, then use these prizes for games, rather than giving away money.
- Plan to have 1 huge Grand Prize, 2-3 smaller but still big prizes, and then a Raffle Table of about 20 -30 prizes. You can consolidate some of them into baskets as we mentioned before. Too many, and it will take too long to coordinate. Too little, and nobody will want to buy tickets!
- Consider renting our Raffle Containers as you see pictured above. Keeps things neat and tidy!
Carrie (owner of Jack of all Spades) just had her own Stag & Doe in June 2018, and 99.9% of her prizes were donated so pretty much…. All. Of. Them. She bought an LCBO gift card for the toonie toss, but besides that, she was not out of pocket for anything. She worked hard, and worked for months getting prizes, she got a quadrillion “NO’s”, but her persistence paid off. Definitely get help though, as its a huge undertaking. Good luck with requesting Donations for Fundraisers – see our other pages to help with Writing your Donation Request Letters and how to ask!