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Four tips to increase your success rate with online donation requests

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Soliciting food and auction item donations for nonprofit fundraisers is time-consuming and frustrating. Nonprofits send out hundreds of applications to companies with online donation requests, only to receive a handful of responses.

Having had to solicit donations ourselves, I built TheShareWay, along with my Co-Founder, Nathan Eidelson, to help nonprofits discover the most responsive companies that donate in their cities. We have matched over 300 nonprofit events to companies that donate food, beverages, raffle items, and auction items. We analyzed the nearly 2,000 applications that came through TheShareWay and found some interesting statistics.

Start soliciting online donation requests two months before your fundraiser to increase the success rate by 43%.

Nearly 60% of nonprofits submit online donation requests less than a month before the event date. We found that applying two months in advance increases approval rates by 43%. Get those applications in early!

Start one month before to get the most options.

About half of the companies with online donation requests that we cataloged specified how far in advance applications need to be submitted. Out of those that specified an advance notice time, 39% of the companies require a one month notice. 23% require a two month notice.

Follow-up at least twice.

I signed myself up to secure breakfast, lunch, and snack donations for 400 attendees at Teach for America’s Bay Area Education Summit. In six weeks, I secured 17 sponsors, totaling $2500 worth of food. I tracked all of my communications and found that 45% of the sponsors I secured said yes after the first or second follow-ups! I also lost a donation from a Chipotle that I secured six weeks in advance because I didn’t follow-up to remind them.

Pitch events with 50 or more attendees.

Events with more than 50 attendees have a 20% higher chance of getting donations. From the companies’ perspectives, donating products takes time, from reviewing applications to coordinating shipping and pick-up. For their time to be worth it, they want their products to reach as many people as possible. For nonprofits, this might be a good minimum threshold too because it is likely not worth spending over 10 hours filling out online donation request forms only to get 25 cupcakes for a small event. It would have been much easier to buy that at Costco for $20.

I hope these tips help you secure more donations! Our mission at TheShareWay is to connect companies that donate with nonprofits: those who have something to give, and those who can use that something for the incredible.

If your upcoming fundraiser is going to be in a virtual format and you want to make sure you’re on the right path, check out the Candid Learning blog post, “Four tips for organizing a successful virtual event.”


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