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Do you hate asking businesses for donations?
I assume you do because about 98% of PTO volunteers I’ve worked with over the years hate it.
They hate feeling awkward and worry about interrupting busy people to ask for something -- especially when they’re probably not the first person that week (not by a long shot!) to ask that business for a raffle donation.
They hate the feeling of rejection that comes from hearing “No” – even when the people who do say No usually say it very nicely.
They hate feeling like they are spending way too many hours making calls or driving around for the number of donations they do get.
Many parent volunteers feel these things at times. But we just keep asking because getting donations from businesses is still the best way to get school raffle prizes, school auction items, and fundraising incentives we need for successful PTO fundraisers.
So, here’s how I make the process of getting donations from businesses as pleasant and productive as possible.
Asking Businesses for Donations on Facebook Step by Step
Facebook is a fantastic tool for finding companies that give donations for raffles, school auctions, and other fundraisers. Using Facebook will help you reach more of the
Right people (decision makers) at the
Right businesses (ones that often donate to schools) at the
Right time (when it’s convenient for them to make a decision)
all in a fraction of the time and effort that it takes in person or by phone. It even works better, in my experience, than starting with email.
In the Facebook search box, enter the name of a specific business if you have one in mind. If you don’t have one in mind, type in a word or phrase for the kind of businesses you’re looking for – like axe throwing, escape room, or go karts, just to name a few fun ideas.
Leave the search filter set to “POSTS FROM Anyone” and “POST TYPE All” and click on the magnifying glass icon to search.
Look over the results for businesses near you that have Facebook business pages. If you see one or more business pages that look promising, click on the business name link to open a page.
If the Messenger window does not open automatically, click on the “Send Message” button to open the chat window.
In the chat window, enter a short message similar to this one, which I have successfully used versions of hundreds of times in recent years to get donations for schools:
This brief message gives the business important information:
What you want (a donation)
When you want it (before November 12) and
Why the business should care (because they will be helping a local school and reaching 300 families at the same time).
Enter the name of the business you contacted in your notes. I suggest using a spreadsheet, so you can easily add contact information as you receive it and track incoming donations.
Repeat steps 1-6 as many times as you like to create a list of companies that might be willing to donate raffle prizes, school auction items, and other fundraiser prizes.
Your success rate will vary with the kinds of businesses you are contacting and the size of your search area. Here in Western MA, about 1 ½ hours west of Boston, I have the best success focusing on businesses that sell admission, tickets, memberships, and lessons (e.g., museums, sports teams, theaters, family fun centers, theme parks, fitness centers, dance studios, etc.), especially those within a 1-2 hour drive. I also have good success with other types of businesses that have an interest in reaching our families (e.g., stores, especially those that are NOT part of large chains, and service providers, like auto care, home/lawn maintenance, salons, dentists/orthodontists, etc.).
If you really need to hit the ground running…
And your brain is a bit tired of pumping out ideas… and you don’t have a fundraising request letter you’re confident in… or a convenient way to track donations… or a nice thank you letter… check out my School Fundraiser Business Donation Request Kit. I put all the stuff I use in a handy kit for you. Buy it now risk-free.
Review responses on Facebook Messenger and reply as needed.
You will get some automated responses right away, and most businesses will respond within one business day. Here are the most common responses and how I recommend handling them:
Yes – We’re happy to donate to your school fundraiser; tell us where to send it / please pick it up – Thank them and attach a PDF of your PTOs business donation request letter to your message so they have your contact information, or just so that have it if you are going to pick the item up.
Yes – We consider fundraiser donation requests; send it to name at email address/mail address – Thank them and then send your PTOs business donation request letter as directed by email or mail. For the best results:
In your email or letter, include a short note that refers to your Facebook query, e.g., “Hi! I contacted you all on Facebook and John said I should send this to you.”
If they ask you to mail a request letter, including a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) will definitely improve your success rate – assuming they haven’t mentioned donating an item, like a gift basket or product, that won’t fit in an envelope. The small cost of including a SASE, especially when contacting museums, theaters, and other attractions, will be pay off many times over because you will get more responses from busy donors than you would otherwise.
Yes – We consider donations for school fundraisers; please use our Web request form – Many business chains and large companies only accept donation requests through Web forms, but a growing number of smaller businesses are using these too. Thank them and then use the web request form to submit.
No – We do consider donation requests, but we’ve already hit our limit – Consider keeping them on your list of business donation prospects for your next fundraiser.
No – Sorry, we do not accept requests – Cross them off your list this time. Businesses do change their minds sometimes, so they might be worth contacting in the future.
No response – If a business has not responded after 3 business days, they’re not keeping up with their Facebook chat, so you’re better off calling them if you still want to ask for a donation.
Track responses - As you receive responses, update your notes with key details and the contact information you need to follow up, including sending a thank you letter (very important!).
Thank donors - I can’t overstate how IMPORTANT it is to send thank you letters to donors! Not only is it the polite thing to do, but it also makes it much more likely that they will donate to your PTO in the future.
Do not worry! If you don’t yet have a good fundraising letter, or a ton of great ideas for businesses who donate raffle prizes, or a handy donation tracker or thank you letter, check this out. I created a ready-to-use School Fundraiser Business Donation Request Kit to save you time and brain pain. Buy it now risk-free.
Special Note: The Best Way to Ask Restaurants and Grocery Stores for Donations for Your PTO Fundraiser
Restaurants (single location or part of small local chain) – Ask in person, ideally when you are visiting with your family or ordering takeout! Even if you’re not a regular, asking in person just seems to work better for smaller restaurants. Restaurants depend on customers from schools like yours and try their best to fill as many requests as they can. But they are swamped with requests from every school, sports team, church, and more in the area, so don’t feel bad if they say No or don’t get back to you.
Restaurants (large chain) – Some restaurant chains only offer donations in the form of “dining for dollars” restaurant night fundraisers. If it’s part of a large chain, start with their web site to see if they have a donation request form. If they do, fill it out and there is a good chance your PTO will receive a small gift card worth $20-25. Some chains will encourage you to speak with a manager at a location near you, so keep some copies of your donation request letter in your car and stop in when you’re running errands or getting a bite to eat.
Grocery stores - The best way to ask grocery stores for donations is to fill out a web request form if they have one or visit a customer service desk at a location near you. They handle so many requests routinely that you don’t have to worry about feeling awkward; just smile and hand them your request letter. Grocery stores are huge supporters of schools, and you can usually count on at least a small gift card, which is always a popular auction item or raffle prize.
Ready-to-Use Business Donation Request Kit
Hate asking businesses for donations? Need raffle prizes and school auction items and don’t have time to waste? This School Fundraiser Business Donation Request Kit gives you everything you need to get great fundraiser prizes the easy way including:
Clear, step-by-step instructions on
Using Facebook to find local businesses that donate to schools.
Exactly how to ask for donations on Facebook to get the most Yeses.
Growing your base of business donors through creative searching.
Fundraising template letter
Business donation tracking spreadsheet
Business donation thank you letter template
Email support - Every group has its specific challenges, so please feel free to contact me with questions!
14-day Money-back guarantee - If you're not fully satisfied with this Kit, I will gladly refund your money.
If you have questions about this Kit or something else in PTO world, let me know! Just send me an email using the link below.
I’m here to help :)