How to maximize getting a donation from a business

The secret revealed

As a restaurant manager for over 8 years I have been asked numerous times for donations. It seems that this gets more and more frequent as nonprofits and organizations need to raise funds. This information is based on my 8 years of requests and what I looked for in who I would give to.

The first thing you have to know is that your time is what will get you the donation. I can't tell you how many letters, faxes or emails I have received from well intentioned individuals that I refuse to give donations to. You are probably wondering why? Well here is the simple secret: If you don't have the respect to come see me face to face, I am not going to give you a donation. Also forget about calling either and asking. Call for an appointment or to see when a good time is but you need to have a face to face meeting with the manager. This will let them see the passion you have for your group and also make it harder for them to tell you no. Keep in mind that they do have a budget for this, which can mean they might not be able to help you out if you aren't fast enough. First come first served is what you need to know. Remember it is very important for you to go into the business and not make it impersonal. I know some businesses will respond but you will get more items of greater value if you go in to see the General Manager. Also you will be setting yourself up for a long term relationship with that business. I just had a great 40 minute conversation with a customer in which I would graciously give to her event again.

The next thing you need to know is this: Ask for what you want and be brave. Be specific in what you want. Most businesses can give you Gift cards but don't be hesitant to ask for a basket. I was a store manager for a well known coffee company and I would donate my expired coffee beans as well as my discontinued retail items. These make great gift baskets. Some coffee shops (the one I worked for rhymes with Far Ducks) have already made donation kits. So don't be afraid to ask.

Another thing to know is: Just because they are a big company doesn't mean they won't help you out. Walmart is known for it's generous contributions and I have heard they even provide all the equipment and supplies for car washes in their parking lots. The bigger the company the more they will be picky about who they can give to. Religious organizations will have a harder time with certain businesses but don't let that stop you from trying. You really never know unless you ask. Just an FYI here, they budget this as marketing.

Understanding that all businesses would rather spend money giving you items to promote their businesses than spending that money on advertisement can help you maximize your donation request. Don't be afraid to ask and please don't be impersonal. You have to invest time to get something for free. Cause in reality you don't get anything for free. I hope this information helps you. Please leave a comment and share any stories you have.

Comments 27 comments

Roger Devine 8 years ago

Thanks! I'm involved with a LOT of fundraising auctions, and although this is not the first time I've heard this advice, it is always welcome - it always seems so much easier (and less scary) to just write a letter. But I know from personal experience that what you say works, and is by far the most productive way to go. I'm going to chair the auction at my son's school next year, and will ask everyone on my team to read this Hub.

Roger Devine

lulu 8 years ago

this is good but lets say that you can't see them in person because of various reasons. will giving them a straight-to-the-point letter work? and how can you go up to the manager and say can i have a donation? don't you have to make an appointment because it would be rude to disturb them in the middle of their work.

Tgunnnzzz 8 years ago

Lulu, face to face is the best way to not be rude. Mail is so impersonal. Think about this as well: If your organization is important to you then you should be there to show the passion. A letter is impersonal and I always would throw them away. I don't have time to read letters but I am paid to interact with you and give you the best customer experience. This is why it is so important for you to have the face time. The best times to go in are between two and four. These are the down times in a restaurant. You can always call ahead and get an appointment. That is the most courteous way to get in the door. Also this allows you to get the managers name. Use their name for your benefit. It makes it harder for us to say no if we are more personal with you. Letters may work here and there but the face time will most likely get you what you are looking for.

k witt profile image

k witt 7 years ago from Eastern Iowa

Also it is important to be prepared. Being a long-time employee of a certain large well known restaurant chain, I've seen what works also. When requesting donations from our restaurant, the person must provide a letterhead or flier also. This helps the company keep track for tax reasons.

Sage 6 years ago

Thank you, I am working with a small film group that is trying to find ways to get funding and support from local businesses in the area in exchange for advertisement, but none of us have experience looking for funding, it is pretty intimidating but this was very helpful!

leafa 6 years ago

I'm about to start asking for donations for a fundraiser I will have in about a month or so. My brother and his wife just found out that the baby they are going to have in about 2-3 weeks is going to need heart sugery once the baby is born. The baby is going to be in the hospital 2 hours from home for an estimated 2 months, maybe longer. Insurance doesn't cover all of the hospital bills. Not to mention their bills and the two other children they have to worry about. We are in such a state of shock. Thankfully they had decided to have the 3-D ultrasound done even though they had to pay for it out of pocket otherwise the child would probably have been born and died shortly after. In a way it's a blessing that we found out, but now with so little time to find the necessary funds I'm at a loss about how to go about it. This was helpful though.

Smalls 6 years ago

Thank you very much for posting this. As a small non-profit, annualy we pick a community and have our "Back to School Festival" to bring in community vendors and give away brand new donated school supplies to school age children. It is with requesting and receiving school supply donations that has been a challenge. I look forward to using your words of wisdom to help have a better festival this year and from now on.

Tad 6 years ago

This was very insightful information. Thank you very much for posting!!!

cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

Great ideas. We are looking for donations for our Relay for Life cancer walk and I just might stop by "far ducks" to ask, thanks!

Annon 5 years ago

Thank You very much! Very helpful insight :)

Travis 5 years ago

Thank you very much for such insightful information. I'm in the process of seeking donations from businesses similar to yours in the coming weeks for a sanitizing product line that would be marketable to restaurants and other establishments.

Dave Parker profile image

Dave Parker 5 years ago from Seattle, Washington

Thanks for the post on the topic. It's a great reminder to folks seeking donations. I referenced your post in my blog as well, has built an application to automate the donation request process.


Rose 4 years ago

Whilst I'm still very nervous at the prospect of approaching businesses about them donating to our charity event, hopefully some of this will stick in my head and it may go smoothly! Cross my fingers and toes.

Bryan 4 years ago

I feel much more motivated to go out and ask for donations now. I was planning on mailing letters but I can see that isn't the best. I just hate rejections, and I dwell on them for the rest of the day. It's something I need to fix but it does mature me.

I'm planning on asking businesses for gift cards to give out as raffle prizes for a street donation competition I'm starting. My neighbors will all have a yard sale on the same day, and at the end donate everything that wasn't sold to a non-profit that will come and pick up everything. They will get raffle tickets for their donated items and win prizes as a reward for donating.

Thanks for the article, it was very helpful.

Kerri 4 years ago

Thanks for the information. My 6 yearl old and two of her friends held a neighborhood food drive and collected 225 pounds of food! We want to hold another food drive in a few months and I would like to be able to present the small pantry we donated to a few gift cards for fresh items as needed. Your advice will definitely come in handy! Thank you!

Sanita 4 years ago

Thank you for the information. Wish me luck!!

Jamie 4 years ago

I am actually in the process of setting up a benefit for a friend of mines little girl who is 5 months old and has spent all but a total of 63 days in the hospital do to her having the rarest chromosomal abnormality in humans. She has Trisomy 17 Mosaicism and the doctors just don't know enough about this to be able to get ahead and get her health under control. So, myself and others are uniting to raise money for medical expenses, travel, and anything else for Avery and her family. I am hoping that a lot of companies will feel for this sweet angel and help us out so this advice is wonderful. Thank You so much.

mbk 3 years ago

Thanks so much for your suggestions. I agreed to get sponsors for my son's wrestling team's tournaments and have not ever done this sort of thing. I really believe in our team and now I won't feel so bad showing that pride when I make my calls.

Leona 3 years ago

Thank you for you in sight.

I'm such the nerves nelly when it comes to asking for


You nailed it for me with the word 'Passion'. That struck a nerve that made my back sit up straight. Your advice has given me what I already had but didn't know and that's 'Passion' for this organization that I'm with. Thank you! :)

CJosey 2 years ago

This was certainly good information for me as I can't hardly get anything out of people who say they want to help. You have given me the edge to go forth and I am on my way. Thanks!

Rose G 2 years ago

This was most helpful and to have a letterhead or other material to give the companies for tax purposes was just what I needed to know. I am currently in the beginning process of asking for donations, but I think having a brochure explaining what I am doing will be a huge help.

Even just starting out with letterhead is a huge step in the right direction, when finances are tight. But thank you so much in letting me know to have a meeting with the manager.

Katia 2 years ago

When i call the store/company do i just ask them if i could make an appoinment with the manager, are they going to ask me for what?

tgunnnzzz profile image

tgunnnzzz 2 years ago from Buena Park Author

Kat is, Just call and ask when a great time to talk with a manager would be. Usually that is around 2 pm as the lunch rush is over and they have time to give you. But just be honest and sometimes they will do things that surprise you, in a good way. Good luck! :-)

Patrish 2 years ago

Thank you for valuable information. I have dropped off a few flyers but I become very nervous asking for a donation(s). Our community has been hit so very hard with benefits and can't ask for donations. I feel so very guilty knowing these businesses have been hit hard.

Jennifer 2 years ago

mertyce 21 months ago

THANK YOU! this helped me tremendously. So true, face to face is the best.

Khadija 13 months ago

Hi, I loved this article, it is sooooo true. But for me this is very difficult, I have recently returned to work at our family business and I have taken the grants and project funding files, we have a private University. But we are in Gaza, Palestine, which makes life so hard. I can not travel freely, although I am originally British, and the economical situation here is at its worst.

I was wondering ---- would a phone call do in my circumstances???

As I want to target International groups or individuals .

I hope it gets read soon & thanks in advance

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article