Will a Business Care Enough to Donate?

The business donor who gleans some benefits for donated merchandise, services and money will often become an enduring resource for a charity. There is no doubt that business owners do care about the communities their customers live in and show that commitment through business donations. Billions of dollars are “donated” to causes around the globe in an effort to increase revenue and stabilize their customer base. With little effort some of the easiest perks an auction can offer are already in place within the organization and easily implemented. These basic marketing tools: a business listing in a charity directory, advertisement and logo in the auction catalog, social media and ongoing reporting via a blog or printed newsletter are typically in place within every non-profit organization. All that is left is brand positioning at the charity event.

Who Should I Ask?

Most prospects and leads are gleaned from businesses you are acquainted with and people you already know. Contact businesses that appeal to the guest demographic. If you don’t have that information stay focused on items with broad appeal and trending. “Broad appeal” simply means items most people would want to buy based on an average consumer demographic.

Any business of any size will likely offer a service or product that can be positioned to raise money in one or more profit centers. Profit centers are the individual pieces of the auction that generates revenue. An insurance company may not give an insurance policy but they could become a cash sponsor of the live auction or they could purchase a package or product that can be sold in the live auction. Many business owners enjoy sharing their time and talent for a cause. Russell Lowell of the popular Eastside restaurant known as Russell’s selectively donates private dinners and sometimes attends the event. This visibility enhances his commitment to Woodinville and fine dining and is very good for his restaurant.

What Should I Say?

Before you contact the prospect, first view the company on line and uncover who is in charge of charitable giving. Make a record of the name, title, address, email and phone number and add to a simple data base. Take the time to compose a brief email and/or letter. Include: A short paragraph describing your organization and how the need will be met by their contribution.

  1. Give a brief summary of the event and the purpose of the charity auction.
  2. Share the projected attendance and known demographic.
  3. Include the ticket price, auction location and link to auction website.
  4. Customize and personalize the letter for sponsors and live auction donors.

What should be My Commitment?

Become a donor yourself. Even if you don’t own a business, many of your friends do. Involve that business owner and become part of the donation. If you don’t know what to donate collaborate as a team and help each volunteer, board member and employee create a unique contribution as a training exercise. Many will become actual items sold in the live auction.

How do we Get Started?

Create a hit list of sorts to guide the procurement team stay organized and focused. Assign different categories of procurement to individual volunteers. The typical categories are restaurants, accommodations, adventures, electronics, services, tangibles, and gift cards. The categories are endless. The chosen business categories an be deciphered by sharing the interests of the individual players on the procurement team. The Procurement Chair can then manage the results and modify the strategy if needed.

Author, April Brown, Auctioneer, Charity Auction World, Seattle, Washington auctions@aprilbrown.com 206.235.4697