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Business Donations: The Untapped Resource You’re Overlooking as a PTO

Have you ever thought of reaching beyond the school grounds for your PTO’s fundraising?

Beyond the school families and school community?

Too many PTOs limit their fundraising to just school families and the school community and in turn, miss out on a huge opportunity!

And no shade here from doing that because it’s super easy to fall into the trap of doing things like your group has always done things for a few reasons.  

First, it’s easy to do what you’ve always done.  

Second, it’s comfortable to do what you’re used to doing.  

But as easy and comfortable as it may be, it can be big time limiting.  

For example, with fundraising, the vast majority of schools rely on school families as the primary vehicle.  


But that’s a huge mistake.  Here’s why:

1.  Families only have so much money.


2.  Families with multiple children are getting called on multiple times.


3.  Families are the low hanging fruit, but have shallower pockets than other funding vehicles.

The solution to this problem is easy: look beyond the school community and students’ families for fundraising!

I really should’ve called this post How to Partner with Businesses, but that doesn’t sound like such an exciting post, right?  


Anyway, the rest of this post is all about how to use businesses as a fundraising source, so let’s get to it!

First, do some research.

Look at companies and businesses that are in your town/city/region.  

Figure out what companies would be a good business to approach.  

Not sure who to approach?  

Start with companies that serve children the same age the students in your school!  

Likewise, don’t forget about the parents and businesses that cater to their needs and wants.  


Basically, include any business or company who has a service or product that your school families probably want or already use!

Second, draft a letter.  

Don’t approach businesses with just your smiling face!

Instead, put together the info they’ll need to know in a letter and have a copy in hand when you contact them, whether in person or otherwise.

What to put in the letter?

Here are the details to include:

Be clear on who you are.  

All letters to companies should include a short introduction of who your group is to give the company an initial idea of why your group is a good candidate for a donation.  

Are you a 501c3 non-profit where donations are tax deductible?  Don’t forget to mention that gem of information in the letter.

Be clear on what you want the donation for and why they should participate.

If your group isn’t crystal clear on why you want a contribution, then your request is going to get denied in an instant.  

You have to be exceptionally clear on what you’ll do with the money and the more specific you are, the better.  

For example, if you’re running a 5k run/walk to raise money for new playground equipment and you’re looking for sponsorships, say just that.  


But also don’t forget to mention that your playground is in disrepair and has recently been deemed unsafe to play on by the school district service department.  

If your community has a large share of kids on subsidized / free lunches, then get the specifics from your school and share this detail too to let businesses know that they need to help since families don’t have extra to spare.

The details really matter!

Be clear on what the business will get in return.  

If you’re asking for anything more than something in the $50-100 range, I would definitely provide something more than a thank you letter to the company.  

In fact, you’d be best off offering some kind of public acknowledgment of the contribution.  

Maybe all sponsors are listed in the email newsletters in the weeks leading up to the event.  


Perhaps you’re doing a sponsor of the week post on Facebook for all to see.  

Offer up free publicity by printing the businesses’ name and logo on the back of the event t-shirt.

Get sponsorship banners printed up to hang up on the parking lot fence.

Get creative and also ask what the businesses would like.

Their input is valuable when tweaking your pitch.

For significant contributions, companies are going to want to see something where it is clear that they were a major contributor with publicity.  

And don’t for one minute discount the huge value of companies getting to directly target this publicity to everyone who the school reaches.  

It’s no small thing.  

Advertising, no matter the platform, save word of mouth, is expensive and no small thing.

Be clear on what you want.  

If you want a donation of $500, then ask for it.  

If you want $10,000, then ask for it!  

Ask for what you really want and need and since you’re being clear on why you want/ need it and what the company will be getting in return for their contribution, it should be an easy give for the business to make.  

And don’t be afraid to go for it!  

The answer to an unasked question is already no, so there’s absolutely nothing to lose by asking for what you need and want.

Want the specific language to use in such a fundraising letter?  

That and so much more is available in the Fundraising Success Kit.

Third, decide on the method of your ask.  

Will you go in person with the letter in hand?  
Mail it?  
Submit an online request?  

Depending on what companies and business you’re asking, you’ll have to tweak how you’ll ask.  You’ll probably have to invest some time into figuring out what is appropriate.  

Generally, for independently owned businesses, you’ll want to go in person and for bigger companies, they’ll likely have formal request submission process you’ll have to follow.  


Check out their website to learn about the details.

Fourth, follow up and follow through!

If you don’t hear back from a company, don’t let that be the end of it.  

People are busy and it’s easy for donation requests to be lost in the shuffle.  

Make sure to follow up within a few weeks of submitting your request for maximum impact.

If you do get a contribution from a business, make sure to send acknowledgement of the donation right away and also follow through on the publicity, etc. you promised to the company.


Without this, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that their donation is a one and done sort of thing instead of the beginning of a partnership.

Over to you!

Hope this helps you to bring in more fundraising dollars and support for your PTO’s programs, and events!

Be sure to check out the Fundraising Success Kit for even more fabulous strategies to bring in even more.SaveSave

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