In this post, I’ll explore the very best ways to get donations for your PTO! Whether you’re looking for items to put on a fantastic week of teacher appreciation events, or for silent auction items, or Carnival raffle items, the process is pretty much the same.
Draft a letter explaining the type of donation you’re looking for and why you’re asking the business for it. Also make sure to state in the letter a little background about your PTO and what you’ll use the donation for.
Have someone unfamiliar with your event or fundraiser read over the letter and offer up their constructive feedback. The letter needs to be pretty spot on so that you can successfully get donations without having to get a lot of “so sorry we can’t help” or worse yet, no response at all.
Businesses and the people that run those businesses are far more likely to make a donation when they know exactly what their contribution is helping to support. Think about it for a second. What motivates you to give?
Think back to the last time you were asked for something by an organization. Was the ask a general “we’d like $5”? Or was it a pretty specific ask of “we’d like $5 to go towards our scholarship program for college bound high school seniors.”
Which one would make you more likely to give? The second one, right? So your asks should be that detailed and specific too.
You absolutely cannot sit on your hands and expect for donations to rain down upon your group. You have to get out there and ask for them!
What businesses or services are in your immediate area? If you’re in the suburbs of a metropolitan area, what businesses or sporting clubs are in the area that you could approach?
Some of the best businesses to ask for donations are going to be the same companies that families in your school do business with. Because form the businesses’ perspective, yes they want to help their community with their donation, but there’s also the business sense to think of too.
Don’t be afraid to ask faith-based organizations and other non-profits in your area.
Make a list of every place that you could ask. An Excel spreadsheet does the trick and can also be used to track when asks have been made and when the last time the organization made a donation.
Go in person
For some businesses, it make sense to mail a letter or send an email. But for a lot of businesses, you’ll find that donations come flowing in when you actually ask in person! This is especially true for smaller businesses and independent retailers. They like to know who they’re doing business with and I’ve found they are much more likely to give when I personally inquire.
Take your kid
The one time I made sure to take my littlest with me, we raked in the donations! But it really was more than me just taking him along with me to visit different stores. He was totally my partner in crime for this effort and I coached him to ask for the donations. The store owners and managers thought it was so cute and 9 out of 10 times couldn’t resist giving us something. It was a fun way to get my child involved in the effort to raise funds for his school and he enjoyed the time we spent doing it too!
Remember to follow up with a thank you note for each and every donation you get. And make sure to do it pretty quickly after a donation has been made or the event happens. When I was in charge of the Silent Auction at my PTA’s Carnival, I would make sure the thank you notes were ready to go within days after the event. I hand wrote, yes, meaning I grabbed a pen and some note cards, all of the thank you notes to all donors, no matter the size of the donation.
This surely helped to make the donors feel appreciated and also primed them for another donation request the following year!
Even more help
All of these strategies that I’ve gone into here are really part of a larger fundraising game plan that your parent group needs to have in place. What sort of plan? I outline just that and even more in what I’m calling the Fabulous Fundraising Guide for PTO/PTAs. And it’s recently been updated to include a detailed planner to keep Fundraising Chairs super organized and on task!
It’s 61 pages of essential fundraising information with all the information Fundraising Chairs need, like:
- When to avoid having a fundraiser
- Exactly how many fundraisers there should be each year
- The easiest and best way to get teachers involved and supporting fundraising efforts
- How steer clear of fundraisers that aren’t worth your time
- How to pick the very best fundraiser for your group
- And so much more!
It really does have everything you need for easy fundraising!