Catch the money wave: getting donations for your company, non-profit or product

You probably all read all about Lauren Scruggs, the 23 yr old model and blogger who accidently walked in to a turning propeller. The incident was/is awful, and I was one of the over 350K plus that visited her website to get more information. The site itself is rather basic, and her message of hope intriguing. Most helpful was the easy to find button to donate for medical costs.

This is a must for any non-profit organization that has an on-line presence. Most schools foundations have this in the obvious bulls-eye red, to the upper right of the page where scientists have proven the eye goes first. (If yours in in the bottom left of the page, fire your web designer and move it. Now). A second must is to have monthly newsletters that go out to your constituency that includes photos of past members (alumni), and yes, a link to donate for a specific initiative. A third must is to identify specific uses for the proceeds. Studies from alumni organizations have got to great lengths to determine what motivates a person to donate to an entity that, from the outside, isn’t hurting for cash. Providing a ‘specific-use’ statement is one of the top reasons an individual or entity will donate.

A few examples include:

  • technology revamp (computer equipment upgrade, back-up systems, staff training
  • Infrastructure improvement (path lighting, gate improvement, security system)
  • Internal upgrade (updated lighting, electronic whiteboards)
  • Arts, music or library programs (with specific dollar, or subject focus that is unique and compelling).

Another approach that I’ve seen gain a lot of traction in recent years is rallying a group to support a single cause for a single year. Take a person on Roger’s (spouse) hockey team. This year, one of the players suggested the entire team get around the Ronald McDonald House,(note the button at the upper right, also in red) and that every fundraiser, for the players and those supported by players, all go to financial support the RMH. Rog agreed (as did the others) and so far, the team has raised over $20K for the organization that helps children with all sorts of diseases.

One way this large number was achieved by 15 or so players was that each one sough opportunities for matching dollars. In lay terms, it means if I contribute 1 dollar, I have an entity that will also contribute 1 dollar. Many large corporations do this for employees, but very few small or mid size firms. It is encouraging when an organization of 150 people or so offers a matching program.

Just this last week, my husband and I attended a function for a group have worked with for years. This consulting firm is doing extremely well in this down economy, finding it is filling a niche on the technology and personnel side for larger firms that have been forced to downside. Prior to the event, we received an invitation to donate to our “non-profit of choice” up to the amount of $250.00 US, that the entity, Cascade Consulting, would match. We wrote a check for $250, and thanks to the generosity of Cascade, that donation was $500. Love that.

If you are a part of an entity looking for money, consider your strategy for improving your chances of being the lucky recipient of a donation check. Web site and newsletter are givens while using your alumni to extend their reach for “full-year fundraiser drive” is a sound approach. I’m going to be employing all three for the non-profit where I sit on the board and also work with the alumn fundraising. You can bet that inviting the alumn to join in the drive is going to be on my to-do list for 2012.