By now you’ve probably received a bevy of requests for donations for various raffles, races, galas and fundraisers of every possible ilk. While initially it may pose an overwhelming administrative nightmare; there is a silver lining. Creating an organized system to manage donation requests can simplify the process and make saying yes easier, more affordable and time efficient. Donations are a brilliant way to encourage free advertising and potentially carry the benefit of bringing more folks into your studio, all while strengthening ties to your community and supporting local charities where you live and work.
Here are some tips to help you set up a quick and effective system for receiving, evaluating and ultimately donating either gift certificates, or products to charities and causes that are a good fit for your organization.
How do you want people to ask for donations?
Fielding frequent phone calls can get messy and often requests can slip through the cracks. The less that phone rings for issues superfluous to your day to day operations, the better. Getting requests in the form of a letter, or a packet “drop off” can be equally irritating. It’s just one more physical thing to deal with, file, or simply recycle and forget. The easiest way to field requests is a uniform application with the basic information you will need from the organization, or an email to a dedicated account for fielding donations. (If you are already working with us can help you with both of these!)
Some ideas for basic questions to include on your form:
- Name of the organization
- Organization's website
- Date of the event
- Tell us a bit about your event
- Contact phone
- Contact email
- Relationship to the studio
- Current member?
The next consideration is deciding between a case by case decision or a standard flat rate donation. If you have a new member special: something like 30 days for 30 dollars, perhaps your standard donation would be a $30 gift card/certificate so that you could include literature about that deal. Choosing a flat rate saves time figuring out how much each charity should get. It also brings folks into your studio and is still very generous. This can be an attractive option for raffles or prizes and is certainly useful for people trying to raise money.
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How do you choose who gets a donation?
When you boil it down there are only two options, Make uniform choice or hand pick what you give each requestor. If you choose to tailor each donation you may find yourself saying no more often, or giving more when you do say yes. No matter how you decide to give you will have to decided how you will choose.
Some easy factors to consider:
- Are they a current student? This is important, you know they are part of your community so offering them your support strengthens an established relationship.
- Have they ever been to your studio? Then you know they chose you for a reason. This is a good opportunity to rebuild or strengthen a relationship.
- How local are they? If the answer is “very” it is worth the relatively minor investment to folks in your town. They will probably include your name in any fliers, brochures or webmaterial and the donation will have paid for itself in free local, focused advertising.
In general it is a good sign when the organization/ individual requesting support has a website, a well advertised event and clear event date with other local or recognizable sponsors. If they don’t, ask them to contact you again when they do.
How do you simplify the request process?
- Create a form on your website to streamline the application process (we can help with this) or dedicate an email account for this purpose.
- Set aside a time during the week to address requests and stick to it so you are not constantly fielding questions, rather than dealing with them en masse, giving you a better sense of the organizations most worthy of your time and resources.
- Respond back asking for a confirmation of the mailing address for the donation, then move the email to a labelled folder, if you never hear back they weren’t serious and you haven’t thrown away a donation. It’s an effective redundancy that acts as a filter.
- Have packages of promo material at the ready to distribute at events. You can even ask them pick it up (along with your donation) as a requirement for your support. It’s ok to ask them to send pics for you to use on your own website/ blog/social media.
Other ways to stay involved:
What if it is simply not in your budget? How else can you help?
- Offer to give events a shout out on your social media, or if you have the space/time in your schedule consider working with them to host a fundraising event at your facility.
- Lost and found items can be donated to local clothing shelters, and that is tax deductible. You can also find non-profit yoga groups that will gladly take lost and found mats and old props.
Create a system that is budget appropriate and fosters positive community relationships. This is good for your brand building, and your karma. Donations don’t have to be a constant guilt-inducing irritant! With some thoughtful planning and a little organization they can become a useful tool in your advertising and outreach portfolio. Ask us how we can help you streamline the intake process!
Have a method for handling donation requests that’s working for your studio? How does your studio contribute to the community? We want to hear about all the good you’re doing! Let us know in the comments!